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A Long Row to Hoe

(A Gardener's Letters )
by Ken Beattie
by Ken Beattie

email: kenb@cwf-fcf.org

Ken Beattie has hosted a number of gardening-related programs for WTN.

Ken is currently working with the Canadian Wildlife Federation and is also the author of an informative gardening book series.


June 25, 2006

Dear Sis,

Remember you tried to force spring flowering bulbs to bloom indoors last winter? Remember how they look? Well, here are a few hints that may help you out this year, no guarantees expressed or implied.
I have always found that Paperwhite Narcissus are the easiest of all the indoor bulb s to coax into bloom. The real trouble is trying to hold them back once they get started. I like to plant them into soil rather than the trendy pebbles or water glasses that you see in magazines. The simple reason is that the flowers will last longer if grown in soil. Another tips is to plant the variety `Galilee', like the sea of ..., they do not have the characteristic musky odour that `Ziva' is known for. If you want to plant yellow , odour free ones, try the Chinese Sacred Lily (actually a Narcissus too) . The best timing is to count eight weeks back from when you'd like the flowers in bloom and plant them that day. A good idea to stagger the planting times of several pots so that there will be a succession of flowers around the holiday season. Try adding some pruning from the Cotoneaster hedge or other twigs to the bulb pots. The foliage will grow up between the twigs which offer a natural lattice support. Once you have watered these warm, wee bulbs, look out, there is no holding them back. When they are finished, compost them.
Along the same lines of simplicity is the mammoth Amaryllis bulb. Actually, Sis, I got you a great huge one two winter's ago, how is it doing? That's OK, I have another one in the mail to you. Here's what to do with it when it arrives. Bulbs are living entities, so don't store it too long before you plant it. The Amaryllis is from South Africa, therefore like the warmth and sunshine. Pot it into a container slightly larger than the bulb itself. The media should be high in organic material like peat moss. Try one of the pre mixed houseplant soils from a garden centre. You should be able to just fit one finger between the bulb and the edge of the pot. 1/3 of the bulb is above soil level, this helps warm the bulb. Water and place the container in a nice sunny window, Western exposure is just fine. Within eight to ten weeks, you will have flowers the size of your hand, maybe even four or five of them per stem. Consider staking the Amaryllis too, it does get very top heavy. Take lots of photos and send me copies for my journal. The variety that you are getting is called Apple Blossom, a beautiful, scented pink one.
Take good care and get your bulbs planted as soon as you can.

Ken


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