Thursday, December 8, 2011

plant bulbs in fall for spring flowers, so I've been told.

bulbs

With the Indian winter we've been having (don't get me started) I've been able to extend my bulb planting into December. Which seems banana's when I write that down - DECEMBER - but it's true none the less.

peony

Let the record show that to date, 2,450 bulbs (and 10 peony tubers) have been planted at Worlds End. A lot of those are fritillaria which are tiny bulbs and sure help boost the numbers. Crocus bulbs also cheat like that. They're so tiny; you just toss them into a prepared bed. Shoveling the dirt onto them and singing "Good Nite Little Babies! Sleep tight!"




Figuring out where to put all these little suckers was quite a challenge. There's a lot of soggy ground, and bulbs in general don't tolerate wet feet. It seems there's also a lot of VOLES and MOLES around these parts and - please do yourself a favor and do not google-image moles; especially do not google-image "star nose mole..." DO NOT...

I digress. You know the difference between a mole and a vole? I do happen to know because I live in a place where this difference comes down to the safety of 2,450 bulbs planted snuggly in beds I dug with me own hands and amended with peat and covered with mulch and edged (sometimes) with stones. Voles eat bulbs, moles do not. There it is. Voles are the real enemy here, and as it turns out, they are the cute ones. But cute or not, they've already chewed up dozens of "ruby giant" crocus planted around a mountain ash, and so those burrowing nocturnal fuzzies are going down. I'm not getting a cat yet - but I'm real fucking close.



Digging these beds went in a few stages; once we figured out where to put them we had to start digging them. Which is easier said than done. In children's books I imagine it's like: Shovel! Dig! Plant! Water! Bloom!; one step leads to the next in a sort of picture-book ease. The progression of steps I experienced this fall was a bit different, and came complete with spousal arguments (One titled "Who's fucking garden is this anyway?" shines especially bright in my memory as does "If you really loved me you'd help me dig this.")

bulb planting

Then there were the rocks. So many rocks around here. Which explains all the rock walls in the forest. This is what people must have done with their children instead of television; Go build a rock wall. Why? Because I said so. If we ever have children I have to make sure that all of the rock walls are disassembled, the rocks scattered so I can make them do that work again. It's good honest work. [Speaking of children, here's a great idea for your kids next birthday party; An Archeological Dig Party! Get 10 of them together in birthday hats and give them all shovels. Have them start digging for treasure in your planned tulip bed, instructing them to remove the rocks to neat piles on the side. When they complain that after hours of digging all they have is a big rock pile, explain to them that Howard Carter dug for YEARS before finding Tutankhamun's tomb, and how serious are they about archeology anyway? If anyone starts crying, quickly serve ice cream.]

mixing bulbs

Then there was the triumphant trip down to the Agway to buy mulch - in bulk - a notion which, in the spectrum of gardeners excitement, lands pretty damn close to ... ok I have to keep this clean ...
"You got a truck?" the girl says to me when I request a cubic yard. Oh yeah I got a truck...

A truck with a cap on it. And so the gentleman who was supposed to use the back hoe to dump the mulch into the truck dumped it instead in the middle of the parking lot and brought me a shovel. Do you know what a cubic yard of mulch looks like? It's more than you think, trust me.

So it went. Mulching is the most fun part, I could spread mulch all day and be happy as a clam. We'll see what happens come April.

28 comments:

Monica said...

Sarah, you are my hero. I wait with baited breath for a one-day in the future future "Little Flower School" upstate NY edition.

Sarah said...

monica, it's coming - hopefully this summer we can do one if i get the barn cleaned out.

Bow Street Flowers said...

Like I said, whatever you're doing, we'll all be enriched by your blogging. If only I were young, you would be my light and mentor. I'm thrilled by your risks. I love following your path.

Liane said...

you look real pretty in the pictures, baby doll. farmer woman.

Foundation Design said...

oh man, i have personal experience related to your mulch adventure and therefore know what moving a cy of mulch feels like... in every inch of my body.

then i discovered contractors - they make that shit look so easy.

Desi McKinnon said...

Do I know voles? I know all about them. My mother has a feud going on with her voles. It makes for great Ranch update conversation. I do know that they are cunning and hungry. God's speed to you and your beautiful bulbs.

Julie said...

Sarah, the only cure for voles are hungry cats. Or well-fed fat cats. Trust me, I was never a cat person, but when two strays heard my animal-whisperer daughter calling...they became my heroes. In fact, other than finding their nasty little presents at the front door or in the garage, I never see signs of voles. I even am brave enough to plant the 1,200 bulbs that somehow appeared in my garage.

Get a cat. Pronto.

Can't wait to see your spring blooms!

flwrjane said...

I have a cat but she is blind in one eye and apparently can't see out of the other.

She is also v. old.

get a young cat.

count buckula said...

I'm pretty sure 'manual labor' was right up there with 'retirement plan' and 'failure of the rhythm method' on the list of reasons my parents had children

ValHalla said...

Oh yeah, a cat! 4 neighborhood cats took care of my vole nest. Though the voles don't like frittilaria, right? some frites are more clay tolerant. This will all be so worth it= mantra.

An Urban Cottage said...

I've never learned to listen. I looked up those star nose moles. I think they were in Alien vs. Predator. Now I'll be up all night.

Love your house and it looks like it's on a nice piece of property. Looking forward to seeing your bulbs in their full glory.

Zoe said...

What a rewarding first spring you will have!

I once upturned a peanut-sized baby vole while digging my potatoes. He was perfectly unharmed, and maybe a teensy bit distraught... But still programmed to Eat More Tuber, and so he sat and comforted himself by munching while I worked up the rest of the row. Every year, I think a third of my potatoes are recycled into meadow voles... But I don't mean to be discouraging. I've had much better luck with bulbs! Yours will be stunning, I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

Are those colorblends bulbs?

Sarah said...

anon: van engelen. they also sell smaller quantities through sister company Sheepers.

Idle Wife said...

I'm just about as excited to see your garden as I am to see my own. I've never done bulbs before this year and I planted a whole mess of them. I hope they make it (especially since I, too, have some animal furiously digging at them daily).

Meg said...

my hero too...especially for planting all those fritillaria! I love following your adventures and can't wait for Little Flower School Summer Camp on the farm, though I am hoping to attend your Northern California class first. You are the only blog I actually "follow," thank you for all the inspiration over the last few years. good luck with the voles!

Daniel-Halifax said...

I leave for two minutes and you buy a house and now are planting a garden!! Amazing! and i too don't think i'll be able to sleep tonight, ie: star nosed mole..

Fallon Shea Anderson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fallon Shea Anderson said...

We don't have Voles but we do have Gophers. Most of our prized roses go in gopher baskets to at least let the roots grow big enough to survive a hungry gopher. Maybe lining your beds with chicken wire?

Anonymous said...

maybe... a combination of chicken wire and geotextile can keep those voles away. I would also think in building raised beds for those fancy little blubs. And get a cat, or 2.
I love your blog and love your farm proyect. I'm just too far away to get to your Little Flower School
Can't wait to see what happens in spring

Becca said...

Get yerself 2 cats to keep each other company while you are away...(the cats will play?) that solution is so so so much better than more physical labor that probably won't work (chicken wire) and literally eat through your money. A flower farm has always been my dream- thank you for sharing & letting lots of us live it with you. Seriously though, get 2 cats.

Elizabeth said...

I had to do it... I deeeply regret it.. star nosed mole, you are HIDEOUS.

Love your farm!

Alice and Stuart said...

this might be my favorite post yet. you are so funny. and those arguments may not get any better. we still argue about some really really petty shit...spinach spacing, deer fencing, amendments, market displays. minor bumps though, just like those rocks.

flowers dublin said...

you have chosen a perfect leisure plan of planting flowers. And the pictures look so natural and nice and they clearly depict that you are actually enjoying it.

Aaran said...

Your house, your garden everything that you managed very nice, all are looking beautiful.
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flowers Dublin said...

Hi Sarah,
Looking great. But planting bulbs is not quite easy but we like the flowers in spring. Truth is that we like the spring and the reason behind thins is only flowers.

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