Another summer ending — begins with bulb planting

IMG_8682One of my favorite big-box stores had a big display of bulbs for sale. I smiled and ran toward it like a lost toddler who recognizes her mother’s shoes.
Normally I resent displays that “remind me” to stock up on seasonal items. Most often the items being sold are NOT things I need lingering around my home.
Halloween candy, for example, tempts me with ceiling-to-floor displays eight weeks before anyone puts on a costume.
Here’s how “stocking up” on candy would work in my house: I gobble 1,000 calories before getting home. Every time I looked in the cupboard one more “snack-sized” chocolate goes down the gullet.
After gaining weight, I might get depressed and say, “hey whatever, I might as well REALLY indulge myself.”
By the time Halloween comes around I would never fit into some sexy she-devil costume, so I’d stay home, turn off the lights and eat the rest of the candy.
Boy, those stores are smart. Always thinking about my “bottom line.”
Now that I’ve unleashed a rant, let’s talk about $10 stocking stuffers.
Around Labor Day we are enticed to buy early and buy cheap. To hide the loot, it’s “stuffed” into the deep darkness of the closet, and probably rediscovered in early spring.
I haven’t checked my facts, but I’m guessing the stores dispatch truckloads of Easter Candy the moment they clear the shelves of Valentine’s Day treats.
And yet, I’m willing to overlook profit motive when my path is blocked by a big display of bulbs.
Bulbs mean fall flowers, and the store must really want me to experience beauty, joy and heaven-scents — all for $11.99 for a bag of 50.
I might even experience the joy of buying for others.
Tulips and hyacinth need chilling, which means we can buy now and chill in the fridge. By the time the crisper drawer is needed for Thanksgiving leftovers, it will be time to plant bulbs.
Bulbs will be ruined if exposed to fruit, because fruit releases ethylene gas.
So wrap bulbs in newspaper or place in a second paper bag.
I like to write the date on the outside of the bag.

More to be uncovered
The timely appearance of bulbs at the store reminded me that I have bulbs stored in pots.
Planting in pots has helped to save my sanity because my back yard is apparently the gathering place for squirrel and gopher family reunions.
The experiment has been fun, if not fully productive.
After bloom in the spring, the pots are shoved into a corner of the yard. At the end of the summer I dump the soil into a bucket and see if there is anything to salvage.
Usually, there are perfectly good bulbs ready to be chilled in the fridge and planted again.
Often these are accompanied by “bulblets,” which I’m assuming grow larger next year and the year after that.
I throw these all in the fridge, then plant them a little bit at a time during rainless days in the winter.
I’ve had good luck with hyacinth bulbs, which have bloomed for at least three years now with my bury, chill and replant routine.
Tulips have only been of marginal success.
Because we’re talking about bulbs, we might as well mention daffodils.
Daffodils will bloom without chilling, and if the squirrels dig them up, they usually aren’t eaten. But like irises (which can be divided in the fall), daffodils need to be divided at least twice a decade.
Last year I poked little red flags into the clumps of fading flowers. If I want to avoid looking at those flags all winter, it’s time to get out there and make some decisions.
Do I put the daffodil bulbs in pots, hoping that I buy a house before next spring? Or do I decide to leave something nice for the next person who lives at my rental house?

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