As soon as the weather turns, I immediately think about bulbs. When I was younger, I used to plant bulbs outdoors. Now I “cheat” and force them inside instead. Not only is it a lot easier on the body (no kneeling in cold wet clay soil–and worse yet, no digging in it!), but the gratification comes earlier in the spring as well.
The only downside is that bulbs forced in water have to be composted so it’s not the most sustainable practice. But then again, planting bulbs in clay soil wasn’t always so sustainable either. They were very susceptible to rotting and after all my efforts, I might have nothing to show for it in the spring.
You can tell that I have been doing this for some time by the collection of forcing jars that I have acquired. What’s nice about this is that I start some now and as they finish, I start new bulbs. Since the bulbs have been kept cool, as winter goes along, each successive forcing takes less time.
The bulbs that I start this week may bloom after New Year’s. The next set may bloom in 6 weeks or so. Then after that, it’s very fast–2 weeks or so per forcing. I have the constant joy of bulbs all over the house!
If you have never tried forcing your own bulbs, try it. You can grow them in soil too. I mostly grow hyacinths because I love the scent. But just about everything forces. Think of a flower show if you have ever been to one. They always have masses of forced bulbs there.
There are great books–and of course the internet–to tell you specifically about the timing of each bulb. But bulbs should be on sale now. Pick up a package and try something new!
That is why I dislike forcing bulbs. I mean, I do not want to dispose of them when they finish. However, in our climate, not many bulbs are reliably perennial anyway!
That’s why I finally started forcing. So much easier on my joints, much more reliable (no critters, no rotting in the clay) and the additional bonus of getting the flowers early. Having to toss them is the only downside. If I get the bulbs on sale, I don’t feel so bad–but this year, I bought some really nice dark blues from a bulb company. What the heck? It’s a pandemic, we have to get some joy somewhere.