Pink and Purple tulipsBulb planting, it’s what we do this time of year if we want easy spring color.  From daffodils, crocus, hyacinths to tulips now is the time to get them in the ground.

Bulbs are little prepackaged flowers. All you need to do is stick them in the ground and unless they get eaten by a squirrel or rotted by over watering, there is almost no way you can keep them from blooming.

Bulbs should be planted with the point up. On smaller bulbs it’s sometimes difficult to tell the top from the bottom.  In that case, plant the bulb on it’s side and it will find it’s way out of the ground.   Plant bulbs about 2 to three times as deep as the bulbs is tall. This means most large bulbs like tulips or daffodils will be planted about 8 inches deep while smaller bulbs will be planted 3-4 inches deep. Planting depth is measured from the bottom of the bulb.

Bone meal or a bloom booster fertilizer, one higher in phosphorus, can be mixed with soil and put in the bottom of the planting hole to encourage flowers the following season. Put some plain soil on top of the fertilizer so it doesn’t burn the new roots.

Squirrels love tulip bulbs but luckily will leave daffodils alone. You can try placing chicken wire on top of the planted area and anchor it with pegs cut from wire coat hangers or rocks. That will stop the squirrels from digging and you can remove it once the ground freezes.

Garlic should also be planted now, too, using the same method as with the flower bulbs. However, with garlic, it makes no difference if the point is up. The original bulb disintegrates and a new bulb is formed.

I was reading my Cooks Illustrated magazine the other day and found some interesting information about Elephant Garlic, the huge headed garlic we see at stores and farmers markets. I learned it’s not actually garlic.  While it belongs to the allium genus, it is a different species then regular garlic. Conventional garlic is Allium sativum and the elephant garlic is Allium ampeloprasum. Leeks are also in that species. Regular garlic can have as many as 20 cloves within one head. Elephant garlic never has more than about 6 gloves.

Elephant Garlic has a mild, garlicky onion flavor when used raw in dips. When cooked the flavor almost disappeared. It was found that the elephant garlic had the same flavor compounds as garlic, onions and leeks, just less of them. The article stated that Elephant garlic is not a substitute for true garlic.  If you want a milder garlic flavor, use less of the real stuff.

Our bulb planting window is narrowing. Plant some soon and almost nothing will make you happier come spring.

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