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The Pueblo County Extension office provides assistance and programs for citizens in five main areas: Agriculture, Horticulture, Family and Consumer Science, Natural Resources and 4-H Youth Programs.

The Basics of Bulbs   arrow

11 tulip bulbs on a class table. brewbooks on flickrAre you wanting to get a head start on some Spring color in your garden? Fall planted bulbs will come up early in the Springtime and help you to shake the winter blues away. Bulbs are best planted in September to October, so don’t delay, plant some bulbs today!

Fall planted bulbs include things like crocus, tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils. There is a direct correlation between the size of the bulbs and the size of the flowers they will produce, so choose the biggest and best bulbs. Try and plant bulbs that are not damaged or moldy. Choose a well-draining site that is visible so you can enjoy the flowers when they come up.

Since bulbs need to be planted more deeply than seeds, you must prepare the soil in the planting area a little differently. You should excavate and mix in soil amendments to the depth that your deepest bulb will go. Be sure the soil is nice and fluffy underneath your deepest bulb so it does not become water logged. If you have a very heavy clay soil, you should amend it with peat moss or well decomposed compost to loosen it up.

Use the planting chart on the packaging of your bulbs to determine how deep to plant them. Generally, this depth will be about four times the height of the bulb between the soil surface and the tip of the bulb. Be sure the growing tip is pointing up. It is a good idea to cover the planting site with about 3 inches of mulch to prevent freezing and thawing of the soil. You can remove the mulch in April, or if it is easily penetrated by the shoots, it can be left in place.

Flower bulbs are great, but don’t forget about the amazing culinary bulb, garlic! Garlic can also be planted this fall for harvest around July. You can get many varieties of garlic to plant at your local garden center. Soft neck garlic is what you typically find in the grocery store, it has relatively small cloves and a long shelf life. Hard neck garlic produces a big attractive flower stalk that can be used in cooking.

Break apart your garlic head into individual cloves. Choose large, firm cloves to plant, and leave the papery outer layer on. The cloves should be planted two to three inches deep and about six inches apart. Plant the cloves with the pointy end facing up. Water the garlic and add a couple inches of mulch. Over the winter you should water if there is no precipitation for an extended amount of time.

Check out the CSU Extension website for more information on flower bulbs and garlic! Happy planting!