It’s Bulb Buying Time!

August 26, 2010

Blink, blink…where did summer go??!!  It’s been sweater weather here in CT for the past few days…cold, wet and generally lousy.  I know the sun will come out and the temperatures will rise again, but the summer drought and heat wave have passed and I’m thinking of  Autumn, which is a HUGE planting season for us.  We plant perennials, trees, shrubs and bulbs.  We prepare gardens for winter and create garden beds for next year’s  gardens.  September and October are incredibly busy gardening months – so if you think we are almost done here…think again my friends!

I just finished placing huge bulb orders…looking at the thousands of bulbs we will be planting this Fall makes my heart sing, but my knees ache! Bulb planting is done here in October – but for the best selection we order well before that.

My first priority is ordering garlic bulbs.  I absolutely love fresh garlic and I think several beds devoted to growing garlic is ideal.  Of course I’m not alone in this love of garlic – so order fast…many varieties are already sold out!

Here are our sources for organic garlic seeds:

If you are new to growing garlic, try a variety pack and taste test the garlic next year.  Alternately, 2 Sister’s has a great page called “How to Choose Your Favorite Garlic Variety”

Seed Saver’s has a great garlic growing guide.  In a nutshell – garlic likes nutrient rich soil (add lots of organic matter to the garden bed now so it will be ready for planting in about 6 weeks), softneck varieties are better in milder climates and hardneck varieties do better in colder climates, each individual bulb of the clove is planted and it’s pretty darn easy.

I will create a bulb planting tutorial post closer to the time of planting – so don’t worry too much about how to plant garlic.  Just order yourself some bulbs and we will all have garlic breath together next summer!!!

Of course Spring flower bulbs are also on my mind!

Daffodil ‘Replete’ Daffodil ‘Erlicheer’

Double Daffodil ‘White Lion’ Daffodil ‘Acropolis’

Double Flowering Tulip ‘Ice Wonder’ Double Flowering Tulip ‘Abigail’

Tulip ‘Rai’ Double Flowering Tulip ‘Eternal Flame’

Be sure to buy a good mixture of early, mid and late blooming bulbs.  Check the description and note when the bulb is going to bloom and buy accordingly.   Breck’s has some good instructions and tips to choosing which bulbs to plant.

Remember to also notice the height of the flower – you want to buy flowers of differing heights, different bloom times and that complement each other color wise.

Bulbs look best when planted in drifts of several hundred – for maximum impact buy a long flowering collection of daffodils and naturalize areas of your garden. You’ll be so glad you did come Spring!

I use tulips in the front of the garden bed where I can enjoy their fleeting beauty.  I try not spend too much on tulip bulbs, since they rarely come back each year.  Of course I am seduced by the tulips each and every year and swoon each Spring when these beauties bloom.

This year I am planting bulbs in my cut flower beds – I loathe cutting from the garden, but I always want some indoors as well…this is my compromise.

Here are some of our bulb suppliers – take a look and order your bulbs soon…I promise they will be sold out before you know it.  Bulbs ship at the correct planting time for your zone – so don’t hesitate!

Van Bourgondien – reputable and reliable sellers with a great inventory and some sweet specials.

Breck’s - classic and established bulb company.  Has some beautiful bulb collections.

Van Egelen – we buy most of our bulbs through this company, which is Connecticut based.  We have never had a problem and their shipping and customer service is excellent.  Their bulbs are large and healthy and produce great flowers.  They offer “wholesale” pricing for large quantity of bulbs…and although it is not as cheap as true wholesale, I am happy to pay more for their high quality.

White Flower Farm – another Connecticut based company I am happy to order from.  Again, their prices can be higher than others, but their quality is superb and their pre-designed bulb collections are classics.  I am trying their Darwin Hybrid Tulips – they say they bloom for 5 years…that would be lovely and save my poor knees from annual tulip planting!

Hope you have fun browsing and buying bulbs for next year!

Caroline Finnegan owns Ladybug Landscaping, a full service organic landscaping company. based in CT. She is a NOFA accredited landcare professional and when not designing gardens can be found rearranging her furniture or out at a flea market finding new goodies. She almost always has dirt under her nails.

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7 comments

comments

  • Hi,
    I was just researching what I could plant for my first ever attempt at gardening and wondered whether I can just use the garlic I received from my CSA… I was planning on doing that with my potatoes but there may be a reason I cannot do it with garlic?? With thanks,
    Jo

  • what did you mean by this: “Bulbs look best when planted in drifts of several hundred” – not sure what a “drift” is…thank you for all the info – can’t wait to do some bulb shopping!

  • Caroline | August 26, 2010

    Hi Jes – good question! To plant bulbs in drifts basically means to plant them in group masses so when they bloom they really make a statement. The daffodil picture above is an illustration of a drift of bulbs. I recommend taking several years to establish large areas of bulb plantings – it’s pretty expensive and time consuming to try and plant thousands of bulbs at once! Plus, daffodil bulbs do multiply over time…free flowers!

  • Caroline | August 26, 2010

    Hi Jo – another great question. It all depends on whether your CSA farm treated the bulb with any kind sprout inhibitor. I’m betting that if they grew it themselves they probably didn’t, so the garlic is good to plant! Ask them next time you pick up your veggies – I’m sure they will have lots of great tips for growing garlic in your region.

  • Deirdre | August 31, 2010

    I was so excited about this post, I bought 100 bulbs! Not for me because I live in an urban jungle, but for my sister’s place where I will vicariously enjoy the bulbs next spring. :-)

  • thanks for the tips! i just ordered some garlic from southern exposure! i’ll give it a go – i kill everything i grow however! wish me luck!

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