Tulips and glad questions, please advise

Fundybayfarm(z5westernN.S.)October 16, 2005

Hi. Yep, it's me again with more questions. I am currently planting another 400 tulips, a job I'm not too fond of, and was wondering if there is an easier way than digging holes, and if you all put them in at the suggested 8" down? It's a pain here with our rocky soil, plus I should have saved one row for these things since they have to be fenced in the spring. Our tiller goes down 5", so after you're past that, it's not easy digging. The other question is about storing glads. I pulled them yesterday, they were still green due to our crazy weather, but since it's getting late, I'm letting the leaves turn yellow in the barn, then will cut them back. I usually store them in large pots, layered in sawdust, and in the basement. But I was wondering if they would also be ok in feedbags, with no sawdust, stored in the same place? It would be much simpler to say the least. It was a good year for growing the corm, and I'll be anxious to count how many more than the 400 I put in, came out. Thanks for all you help.


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Noni Morrison

Cheryl, do you have a spading fork? Much the easiest tool for attacking gravelly soil after rototilling. I prefer to make a trench, 4' wide and at least 8" deep for my bulbs. I think it is easier then digging individual holes. Lay a peice of plYwood along your trench and pile the dug out soil on it, then jusy Tip it up and dump the soil back in after putting the bulbs and fertilizer! I layer al the different bulbs for cutting in the same trench and get flowerd of different bulbs from March through June.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2005 at 4:17PM
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I'm not sure what a spading fork is, but it sounds like an easier way to do things. I did try digging out an area, laying in the bulbs, then piling the dirt back on, it was quicker putting the bulbs in, but harder on my back digging it all out. What other bulbs do you plant at the same time for cutting? I would have no bulb blooming in June, but sure could use some! I think you're a lot warmer than me though.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2005 at 5:19PM
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Jeanne_in_Idaho(z5 N.Idaho)

Glad corms like some air circulation while in storage. I put mine in single layers on mesh-bottomed flats and store them in something my husband designed to store them, with some breathing space between flats, in an unheated room. I've also stored them in old nylons in the past, single stack down each leg, hung up on a nail. I don't see why you couldn't store them in feedbags, definitely minus the sawdust. You probably should poke holes in those feedbags for air circulation (if they are solid, rather than a woven material that lets some air in) and don't put the corms in really big piles in the bags. Without good air circulation, they are prone to rot, which can spread quickly throughout the pile of corms.

I've gotten good performance from tulips at 6" deep, but have never tried 5". I would hesitate to put them on the bottom of your rototilled trench, mostly because then their roots are smack on top of the plow pan and have no good tilled soil to reach down into.

I second the spading fork, but it might not lift loose, tilled soil well. A shovel is better for that. The spading fork is great for loosening up solid soil, and for digging bulbs and/or plants in solid soil. LizaLily gave me hers, which proved to be indispensable for digging up hundreds of lilies.


    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 1:57PM
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OK, now I think I know what you mean, it's like a pitch fork, but has wider tines? We use a pitch fork for turning over solid soil in areas that we can't use the tiller. It works great. I know you're right about putting these tulips in 5 or 6", with hard pan on the bottom. I planted about 12 bulbs and quit, it didn't feel right. Then we got so much rain again, that the soil was too muddy to continue anywhere the next day. I swear I have been walking all around this place, and can't seem to find the right area. I have annual rows ready, but not per. Sometimes it's just HARD to time this stuff right, especially when it takes time to get a row ready. I need to start thinking ahead of these things.
Jeanne, if you do single rows of glads for storage, doesn't that take up a LOT of space. I have never had any rot storing them in sawdust, and I even get them sprouting 3 weeks to a month before I can get them in the ground. And thats in the basement where it pretty dark most of the time. My main challenge right now will be getting them dry enough to put in storage.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2005 at 7:16AM
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Jeanne_in_Idaho(z5 N.Idaho)

Yes, it's like a heavier, wider-tined pitchfork.

If your glads storage method works, great, no changes needed!

I've stored them in flats for years now, in single layers (not single rows). Up until last year, I sort of stacked the flats, using bits of scrap wood between them so the corms wouldn't be supporting the weight. Messy and difficult. Then my DH made a rack that holds 24 square flats. It holds four flats side-by-side on six layers. Having six layers really cuts down on how much floor- or shelf-space needed. I stored about 1,200 glads in it last year and didn't fill it up, only had about 17 flats. It's an easy system. I take the empty flats to the field, place the dug corms directly into them while digging, then put the flats in the rack in the house. To plant them in the spring, I take the flats right out into the field. One nice thing about putting them in a single layer (not single rows) in the mesh-bottomed flats is that there is no intermediate drying step needed before storage. They dry in storage.

I no longer need that amount of glads storage now, so I'll ask him to cut the rack down to one flat wide, but still 6 layers deep.

I am grateful every day for my ultra-handy husband. I certainly couldn't have had my market flower business without him.


    Bookmark   October 18, 2005 at 2:09PM
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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

Another bulbs I plant for cutting in May, June and July are Alliums and Lilies. I plant them helter skelter in the garden wherever I have a spot. However, I grow cut flowers for use at the temple, not for the market like any of you, so my planting is in a much smaller scale.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2005 at 8:27PM
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Jeanne, I meant to say single layers, not rows, I know you wouldn't make a single row. That sounds like a great system you have. I use the sawdust just because I was worried about rot in the damp basement. The heat from the furnace makes it a little dryer, but by no means does it feel like our upstairs. We are able to store potatoes down there with no problems, but not squash which needs to be dryer. It still might be worth a try, if I can get hubby to make me something, because it sounds like a real time saver.
Jeff, I always forget about alliums. That's something I need to plant. I do use the tops of leek, which look very nice in bouquets, but doesn't have the brilliant color of say, "purple sensation".

    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 6:45AM
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flowers4u(z6 OR)

I second LizaLily's trench method! That's how we planted 2000 tulips, 2000 daffs, 1500 liatris, 3000 lilies, and only 200 alliums last fall/last spring! My husband does the trench and I plant as fast as I can behind him...sometimes I catch up, but he's fast at digging and covering up! I, of course blame it on small hands! can't hold as many bulbs and keep planting without making mistakes! Now, I'm hopeful the tulips will come up next spring. I've decided not to plant any this year and see what happens! (crossed fingers here!)

I also don't dig my glads, and they seem to be doing just fine, but our winters the past 5 years haven't been that cold for any extended period of time. So, I don't worry about them.

I am going to order more purple sensation alliums...they're great and do store well in the cooler!
Good luck,

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 5:08PM
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Wow. You and your husband make a great team, that's a LOT of planting! Your soil must not be very rocky either. Do you do down 8" on the tulips? Good luck on all your flowers. I envy the fact you don't have to dig glads. What a labor saver.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2005 at 6:49AM
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