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Gardening A nticipation is half the fun for me when I'm gar- dening. As I walk through the garden in the early spring months, I spot bulbs popping up where I had forgotten I had planted them. Such a nice greeting when all the rest of the yard still seems asleep! Since November is the best time to plant bulbs in our valley, I'm going to buy more bulbs now. ough, ideally, the best bulbs are found in the early September market, I can still select good ones. If I find any moldy, soft, or sprouting bulbs, I'll reject them, because they won't perform in the spring. Here are a few ideas and techniques for using bulbs. Fooling bulbs: Bulbs can be "forced" into thinking spring has already arrived. Here is an easy way to plant bulbs indoors for holiday gifts. Place an inch of clean pebbles or gravel (I buy gravel from the fish aquarium store) in the bottom of a shallow bowl. Pack narcissus or daffodil bulbs close together in the bowl, and then fill around the bulbs with more gravel to anchor them in place. Fill the bowl with water just till the water barely touches the bottom of the bulbs, and set the bowl in a window with indirect sunlight. Within a couple of weeks, the bulbs will begin to sprout, and in 4 to 6 weeks they will be in full bloom. Rotate the bowl every couple of days so that the stems will grow straight. If the stems get tall and want to lean, tie raffia or ribbon around them, and use 2 to 3 long sticks or bamboo to anchor the stems into the pebbles. e amaryllis bulb is also a popular holiday gift. It can be found in many nurseries or home improvement stores in colors varying from red or white to pink or peppermint. A single bulb will provide cheer during the winter months. One of the beauties of amaryllis is that, after the blooms are gone, you can plant them in the garden for continued enjoyment. Over the years, my mother-in-law has planted all her amaryllis in the garden after their blooms were spent, and last year she had over 50 red amaryllis blossoms. Outdoor planting guidelines: Some of the most popular bulbs, which can be planted in the ground now are amaryllis, anemone, calla lily, canna, freesia, gladiolus, iris, narcissus (daffodil), and ranunculus. 1. Select firm bulbs, not mushy or diseased ones. 2. Soak the bulbs in water for ½ hour. 3. Loosen the soil where you will be planting to a depth of 12 inches. 4. Dig a hole 3 times as deep as the bulb is wide, amend the bottom of the hole with bulb fertilizer or bone meal. 5. Plant the bulbs with the tip up. 6. Plant bulbs in masses of 3 dozen to 500 bulbs to make a greater impact. 7. Water the bulbs well. Funny-looking bulbs: While most bulbs have a distinct bulb shape (pointed on top, round at the root), other bulbs like corms, tubers and rhizomes are tricky. Dahlia bulbs should lie on their sides. Begonia tubers have a volcano crater on top, which should be on top when planted. Ranunculus bulbs look like dancers at Radio City Music Hall, so, when planting, all their "legs" should be pointed down. Anemone bulbs look like little turtles, with very little root evident. If I can't figure out which is the top, I just plant the corm on its side, confident that the shoot will find it's way to the sun. Bearded iris are long rhizomes and should be planted more shallowly, because, like beach bums, they like their backs slightly exposed to the sun. Tips f or in t he Fal l Text by pegg y sullivan wikimedia commons Amaryllis belladonna flowers. A U T U M N 2 017 S E A S O N S M A G A Z I N E 9

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