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16 October 2014
Gardener's Corner

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Summer 2002
John Cushnie On...

Bulbs In, Bulbs Out
1st Octoberr 2004

October is a hectic month for gardeners. Whatever the weather there are jobs that have to be done before the end of the month. A major task can be the lifting and planting of bulbs.

Most of those summer and autumn show stoppers have finished flowering with dahlias, autumn crocus and nerines still making a late display.

GladioliThe flowers of gladioli are long gone and by now the foliage will be yellow or brown. It is normal to lift the corms now and dry them before storing in a dry, frost free shed. The leaves are removed and the little cormels saved and stored separately. These tiny corms will grow like grass and after a few years will be large enough to form flowers.

Begonias need to be lifted before the first frosts of the autumn. Check the tubers for rot or damage caused when lifting. Pests such as snails and slugs left undiscovered will soon destroy a whole tray of begonias. When the soil has been removed and they are dry store them in a cool, airy room.

daffodilsThere is still time to plant the winter and spring flowering bulbs. Daffodils, hyacinths, bluebells, snowdrops and crocus should be planted before the middle of October. Tulips may be planted as late as the middle of November but buy the bulbs as soon as possible. By the time you are planting there will be few, if any, in the stores to choose from.

Don’t be tempted by the pictures of pretty flowers. Impulse buying for existing gardeners will lead to problems and the headache of where to plant them in an already bulging garden. Often the obvious space between plants is already home to bulbs that will appear later.

crocusWhere there is space, cultivate the soil and dig a hole with the base at least two to three times deeper than the size of the bulb. Space them two to four inches apart depending on bulb girth. Crocus may be planted closer than hyacinths. Remove stones larger than one inch. Add bone meal to each planting position to encourage the bulbs to increase in size for the following year.

Where space in the garden is limited, one option is to plant your spring bulbs in pots. They can be layered with the larger bulbs forming the bottom layer and small crocus and species daffodils and tulips nearer to the soil surface. They will all flower normally and the containers can be placed for maximum effect. After flowering they may be moved out of sight until the foliage dies and the bulbs are again lifted for storage.

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