Sunday, 27 October 2013

Over-Wintering Bulbs, Tubers, Corms, and Rhizomes

In temperate areas, one can leave the bulbs, corms, tubers, etc.. in the ground over winter and they will come up for many years.
Lift them every 3 or 4 years in order to clean them up and thin them out for the best blooms. 
Also, keep in mind that if you do not lift them and you have a colder year, wetter year, snowier year, you might indeed lose those tubers, bulbs, corms ... that you have grown for years.

This post details dahlia's and glads, but the same technique applies to all the various tender bulbs that you would lift in fall... Canna lilies, Calla lilies, Colocasia's, Crocosmia's, Anemone's, Begonia's, Freesia's, etc...
It also applies to hardy bulbs like tulips and daffodils, that you want to lift in order to move to another location or from pot to garden, garden to pot, etc... 

Dinnerplate Dahlia
 Leave the tubers in the ground until the first frost has blackened and killed back the foliage.
Cut the stem back to 6 inches tall.
Loosen the soil in a large circle around your dahlia, about 8 inches all around the crown.
Then lift the tuber carefully from the bed with a garden fork.
Shake off the excess soil.
How to dry your corms, bulbs, rhizomes, and tubers...
After carefully lifting them...
Remove any that are wounded, mouldy, soft, or have spots of rot, toss into the compost bin.   
Lay them out on newsprint in a dry, cool, airy area to dry for about two weeks.
I use a table in the carport or the greenhouse floor under a table.
A furnace room, garage or store room is a great place to spread them out to dry.
Do not expose them to moisture, rain, or direct sunshine.   
Do not place right on the cold concrete floor, always use newsprint or cardboard underneath.

These dry dahlia's are now ready to be cleaned up.
Trim back the dry messy roots and the tops to about an inch long,
Clean off any remaining soil and take off any bits that have been damaged, are soft or mouldy.
Sometimes the mother plant or tuber dies and dries up and sometimes it stays alive.
This mother tuber will be a darker colour and can be removed, as it will not bloom again.
Save the fresh new tubers.
If the clump is very large, you can cut it into 2 or more new tubers,
as long as there is an eye on each piece.
(Looks pretty much the same as a potato eye)
Let the cuts dry before storing.
Glads (gladioluses, gladioli, or gladiolas)
After  the first frost or once the blooms have completely finished,
cut back the stems to about 6 inches tall.

Carefully loosen the soil around the glads and lift from the ground.
Place in a cool, dry, airy place to dry.
See above for how to dry.
These glads are now ready to be cleaned up...
Removed the wee baby cormels that you see here in this picture.
Also,  remove the dried up brown corm that was this years flower.
A nice, new plump corm will have formed above that dried up one, that is next years new flower.
The bigger and fatter it is, the better it will bloom.  
The happiest, healthiest, biggest cormels can also be saved
and planted with the regular corms, and then lifted again in the fall.
They will size up in the garden bed, to bloom the following year.
Saving these and growing them on will provide you with great fresh stock
for great blooms each and every year.

 Cleaned up glad corms...
The cleaned up glads are placed into a cardboard box, an ice cream pail, paper bag,
mesh bag, some kind of storage container...
Add some peat moss, dry sand, or soil-less potting mix to the container, unless using mesh..
Store in a cool, dry, airy place.
I used to use my store room under the stairs, have also used the furnace room.
Now, I simply push my box under one of the greenhouse tables on the north side and forget about it till spring.
Every so often, pull out the box and make sure that they all are healthy.
Remove any mouldy, soft, dried out, or rotten corms.
To label your dahlias, you can simply write the name right onto the tuber with a sharpie.
This works fabulously if you have many different bulbs and want to store them all in a box together.
Or write it onto a plastic or wooden label and tuck that into the box or bag with the bulb.
I usually just write the name on the outside of the bag, box or ice cream pail.


When you check on them in late winter, early spring,
if you happen to see spindly white or pale green new growth starting,
you have no choice but to pot them up right away.
There is no way to stop the growth process once it has started. 
Pop them into pots till you can get them into the ground,
and you will have bigger, better, and stronger plants. 

 Happy Gardening!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Planting Spring flowering Bulbs in Containers


Love the look of pots of tulips and daffs in spring? Those bright pops of colour after a long winter of bleak and grey?
This is the time to create your magic and then sit back and let it all happen in spring.

You can use any kind of container and any kinds of bulbs... all will look spectacular!

I am not promoting this brand in any way, shape or form.
Just showing a sample of bagged soil-less potting mix that I was able to find this fall, 
 at the box store, at a decent price.  
Remember to only use a soil-less potting mix, the stuff that you can buy at the garden centres or box stores in bags or cubes, not the garden mixes that you buy loose in bulk!
I like to use ones that are high in porosity, containing a lot of perlite for great air flow and drainage, and thus strong roots.
Garden soil and loams will be too heavy, they get compacted by the rains and snow so do not breathe. Your bulbs will either rot or simply not thrive and not bloom. 

Anything goes when planting up your bulbs, any colour combinations you like, or go all mono chromatic for a huge statement!
I like to use taller tulips in the centre of the pot, with shorter tulips or daffodils around them, which are then ringed by even shorter bulbs like scilla (squill), crocuses, or muscari (grape hyacinths).
However, you can also use just one type of bulb, like a whole container of tulips, or alliums, or daffodils, etc... en masse, it makes a lovely punch!

If you are using different types of bulbs, cluster them in groups of 3 or 5 or 7 of each variety, to create a large pop of colour and texture.
On this bottom layer, I planted up clusters of both tulips and daffodils, as they are both to be planted at the same depth of 6 inches deep.
If you are planting more than one variety, they will be layered in the pot, according to depth that they should be planted at. See the pic below ....

On the bulb package, you will find this information ... how tall the flowers get ...  whether it is a sun or shade plant ... and how deep and far apart to plant them.

This tulip will get 20 inches tall, grows in a sunny or part sunny area, and should be planted 6 inches deep and 4 inches apart.

This information helps you plan out where to place your mixed bulbs in the container...
Taller flowers at the back for a porch planter visible from the front only.. or taller in the centre for urns that a visible from all sides.

It also tells you how to layer your bulbs... these ones go in first as 6 inches is the deepest requirement of all the ones I bought, the next layer goes in at a depth of 3 to 4 inches deep.

As for that spacing rule, that they should be spread 4 inches apart... I only follow that rule when I am planting into the garden beds.
In the pots, put them as close together as you want, in order to fit in as many bulbs as you want in that pot... the only rule here is do NOT let the bulbs touch each other or the side of the pot or they will rot.

Also listed on the package is when/what time of year the bulbs will bloom... These ones are mid-spring bloomers.
I plant together all kinds of bulbs that bloom around the same time for the biggest pop of colour.
In the ground, however, I like to plant all different timings, in order to have continuous colour and interest.  
These ones  were colour co-ordinated together and they will bloom in Late-Spring.

Top up the pots with fresh potting mix and plant up with fall and winter interest plants, if you live in a mild winter area. Skip this step if you live in colder areas, and will be storing your pot in a dark garage or cold room.

I like to add pansies as they will add colour all fall and into winter and then will bloom again in late winter.

In these planters I popped in some Bellis ( English Daisies), Heather, and Frizzle Sizzle pansies, which are all fabulous and frilly!
Both the bellis and pansies will bloom again in spring.

Happy fall planting.... prepping for spring! 


Tuesday, 1 October 2013

October Ramblings and To- Do's

Stuff To Do This Month....

Strawberries -
Perhaps, you have been potting up your strawberry runners in wee pots? Or, maybe you have simply pinned them into place in the garden? You can now cut those new plants loose from the mother plants.
Or maybe you have dome nothing with them all season, and now have tons of runners all around your garden bed?

If your plants are younger than 3 years, remove the runners, add compost or manure around the mother plants, and you are set for lovely, huge berries in spring.

However, if they have fruited well for you for the past three years, now is the time to remove those mother plants and start anew with the runners.
After three years the berries will start to be smaller, misshapen, and dry, not as tasty, juicy or sweet as you would like.
If you plant them up now instead of waiting till spring, you will have great berries already next year.

If you have not pinned or potted up your runners earlier, you can still start a new bed with them this season.
Simply lift all the plants from the bed.
Cut the runners from the mother plants, set them aside, and toss those old mother plants into the compost bin.

Add compost or manure, all kinds of organic matter, into the bed and mix in.
Is best if you plant in a new location, but if you do not have that option, clean up all debris and foliage from the old plants.
You can now plant up those runners into the bed, about 1 foot apart.

Garlic -
Nope, am not saying anything more about garlic, lol, except that this is the month to plant in up.
Pick a nice day, am sure we will still get a few, and pop them in. For how-to's, please see the previous post.

Herbs -
Cover your tender herbs (basil, cilantro)  to extend the season ... make a cloche out of milk jugs or a tomato cage and clear plastic bag, cover with remay cloth, etc...
Cut back the crazy, overgrown, perennial herbs like sage, oregano, etc... and trim back the thyme, if needed.

What you can still plant this month ...
Kale (transplants)
Lettuce and greens can still be planted at the beginning of the month but should be covered or grown in your cold frame
Perennial herbs from transplants.

Harvest Time!

Onions - are ready to be lifted once the tops fold down... if they have not all done so yet, take the ones that have not and push the tops down to start the curing process.
If they have all toppled and your weather is dry and warm, simply pull them and leave them on the garden bed to dry and cure. If your weather is wet or cool, as it is here on the island, this year, lay them out single layer to dry and cure, in the garage, carport, basement... 

Fruits - apples, pears, plums should all be pretty near ready right about now or within the next couple of weeks. Do not leave them on the ground to rot. as this will bring in all kinds of pest and disease problems next year, like the apple maggot!
If you do not have time to pick them yourself, are unable to do so, or simply do not need the fruit this year, most communities will have volunteer gleaners who will come out to pick them and share the bounty with food banks and/or other folks who can use them.
I recently moved to a new home so my canning supplies are all in boxes somewhere. The yellow plum tree was in full fruit when I moved in and I had no way to deal with all this fruit this year. The ripe fruit was bringing in tons of wasps and would have made for a horrible smelly mess if left to fall and rot. Plus, is a shame to see that lovely fruit go to waste. I got some gleaners in and they picked the whole tree clean in no time at all and even left me some lovely plums for fresh eating. Win-win!

Squashes - Most all of your winter squashes should be ready to be picked now or very soon  ... pumpkins, butternuts, spaghetti's, patti pans, acorns, hubbards ...
They are ready when they have coloured up and when the rind/skin has hardened up ( so that when you push your thumbnail into the squash it does not easily punch thru but you meet with some resistance).
These guys will store well for many months, in a cool and dark area. Do not store directly on a concrete floor, place cardboard or newsprint under them.

Fall Peas are ready!
Pick the rest of your tomatoes and peppers this month...
Flowers to plant this month...
Violas an pansies
Sweet Peas!
Lavender (yes, is technically an herb, but smells great and looks great, so hey, why not)

Plant up you fall planters with sturdy plants that can withstand the wet, cool weather ....
Use mums, asters, pansies, violas, celosia, nandina, grasses, heucheras, ornamental cabbage and kale, sedum, snapdragons, and phormiums.

Plant Spring Blooming Bulbs ...
This is the time to plant up your pots with bulbs for spring colour, layering your daffodils, tulips and crocuses, maybe some muscari and squill, too.

You can also plant bulbs throughout your lawn to naturalise! Such a lovely sight in spring!

I like to add new spring blooming bulbs to my beds each fall, so that the impact is bigger and better each and every year, without breaking the budget. 

Plant your tulips, daffodils, crocuses, fritilarias, scilla, muscari, and alliums now!

Plant lilies now, too!
Bringing in Your Bulbs (Overwintering)
Dahlias, begonias, and gladiolus bulbs can all be lifted this month.

Wait till the foliage begins to brown and die back before lifting.
Cut back to 5 inches high.
Lift the bulbs, corms, tubers...
Clean off the worst off the soil and bring into an airy, cool, dry place to dry for a week or two. I like the furnace room or under a table in the greenhouse for this task.
Do not place on bare concrete, place on newsprint or cardboard.
When dry, check for any rot or mould, do not store those tubers as they will continue to rot.
Place in a box, paper bag, ice cream pail, etc... with lightly moistened peat moss or soil-less potting mix.
Store in a cool, dark place. Best if stored around 5 to 7 C (45 F). A cold room, a garage, or I pop mine under the tables in the greenhouse till spring.
Check a few time in winter to make sure that it is not too dry, mist if needed.
In spring, plant up again when you start to see new growth ( it will be white or light green and spindly)

Rose hips

Stop dead-heading now, this allows hips to form and tells the rose that it is time to start shutting down for the season. If you continue to dead head, it will continue to try to grow and bloom, and so may not survive the winter.

However, here on the west coast, you want to remove any soggy blossoms to prevent rot from setting in.

Pull off any foliage with black spot or powdery mildew on them, remove any fallen leaves, and clean up around the rose.

Towards the end of the month, cut back the rose bushes by about one third or to about 1 foot high. This will prevent breakage from any heavy snow falls or winds. Cut to an outward facing bud.

Remove any broken branches, dead bits, criss crossing branches .. the 3 D's of rose pruning, take out anything dead, diseased or damaged. Cut to an outward facing bud and keep an open vase form to the rose bush.

Put away yard ornaments for the winter. 

Other Garden Stuff To Do
Clean out your summer planters and pots. Wash with a 10% bleach solution to kill any lingering fungal, pest or disease issues. 

Dump the soil from the pots into your compost or onto your garden beds. Some folks like to keep their soil over and just add some compost to it in spring, however, I always dump mine. The nutrients have pretty much been completely depleted from the soil, plus might be harbouring pests or disease. Therefore, I dump the soil and start anew with fresh and fertile soil each spring. When dumped into the compost bin or garden, it does not go to waste! 

Lime your lawn here on the west coast. Is also a great time to de-thatch and aerate. Feed your lawn with a winter fertiliser and give it a mow. 

Clean up all your yard and garden ornaments and plant supports, put them away till spring.

Divide any perennials in need, share with neighbours and friends if you do not have space for all the 'new' plants.

Move trees or shrubs now that are planted in the wrong area or simply not thriving.

Moving Thyme

Sadly, the Nitty Gritty Potager blog is no more... but the good news is that I can now be found at my new blog called the Olde Thyme F...