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GARDENING WITH NATURE: Put a little spring in your fall: planting bulbs

Daffodils are perfect to plant in the fall and are beautiful to see bloom in the spring.
Daffodils are perfect to plant in the fall and are beautiful to see bloom in the spring. - 123RF Stock Photo

There’s a chill in the air and spring couldn’t be farther from our minds, right? Not if you’re a gardener! Mid-fall is the best time of year to plant spring-blooming bulbs. Bulbs are an inexpensive and easy way to add colour to your spring garden. Buy a few packs and plant them in clumps where you have spaces. In the spring, they will reward you with much-needed cheerful colour and then die down after flowering. They will return each year and many will spread over time.

The first spring bloomers to put in the ground are daffodils. You can plant them in September and early October as they are a touch sensitive to frost. All other spring-blooming bulbs can be planted right around Halloween. This includes tulip, crocus, snowdrop, scilla, bluebell, hyacinth, lily and allium. Simply choose a location with well-drained soil and spring sun. Dig in a potassium-rich amendment such as wood ash, potash or greensand. Then plant the bulbs 10 to 20 centimetres deep (larger bulbs go deeper) with the root end down. Tamp the soil down, water and wait.

But what about critters you ask? Yes, it’s true, some bulbs are quite tasty treats for our animal friends. Tulips and crocuses are particular favourites. You can cover the planting area with thick conifer brush and/or chicken wire to protect the bulbs over winter and remove it in spring. Another option is to choose bulbs that critters don’t like. These can be planted exclusively or inter-planted with more tasty bulbs to deter snacking. Daffodils are toxic and avoided by most critters. Alliums are also usually avoided due to their strong garlic or onion scent. Turns out even deer and squirrels get less dates with onion breath!

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