Mary Beth: I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s time to start thinking about Spring. Go out to your garden or onto your balcony and imagine where you would like to see all the beautiful, bright spring flowers popping up. Imagine what a welcome relief all that lovely color will be after the long cold winter.
I know it’s a little shocking. Freezing temperatures sound foreign to me right now too because I’m melting from the heat and the unusual humidity that came with the rainstorm we had last night, but winter is on its way! And that means it’s time to get those spring-blooming bulbs ordered so you can get them in the ground in September and October. When you’re choosing bulbs for the mountain area, you can’t go wrong with Daffodils, Narcissus, Grape Hyacinths, Snow Drops, Dutch Iris, and Tulips. (Warning! Deer love tasty tulips so be prepared to protect them with deer spray.)
In high elevations don’t plant the bulbs deeper than 2 1/2 times the width of the bulb — the ground takes longer to warm up in the clay-heavy soils that we have here. I always sprinkle a little bone meal and kelp in the hole before I plop in the bulbs. Another nice touch is to plant a few bulbs in each hole (like 4-5) so you have a pretty bunch of flowers popping up like a bouquet rather than single flowers coming up here and there. I can just picture them now…
Speaking of bulbs, you might want to try an edible bulb like garlic in your vegetable garden this year. I plant mine in the end of September, or sometimes in early October. It’s really easy to do and the garlic will be ready to harvest in July. Directions for planting garlic are included in the bulb packaging and it’s usually posted on most of the online stores. Garlic likes to start its roots and feed in the fall in rich, well-fertilized soil before the cold sets in. When spring arrives garlic picks up where it left off as the soil starts to warm up.
Mulching is always a good idea after planting your bulbs. It conserves water and keeps soil temperatures more consistent lessening plant stress.
Don’t wait too long to order because many varieties sell out fast. I find it very hard to select which garlic to grow each year as there are so many fantastic choices. This year I browsed through The Garlic Store and, after a very long time trying to make up my mind, I chose Baby Elephant, Susanville, Chesnok Red and Morado Gigante — all of them are certified organic. Pick the garlic that’s best for your climate and your taste buds and you will really be happy you planned ahead. It’s so much fun digging them up!