11 February 2010

One Garden Down, One Garden Up...(and a tip on tulips)

Early December brought record lows to the PNW. Our usual cold snap comes late January early February, so this mild winter has flora and fauna a bit befuddled. The garden is bursting with buds not typically exposed this early, or in any case, to such an advanced degree.
The wintery decorations we typically keep up until March seem erroneous. The usual Epiphany season activities, while including some garden clean up, consist mostly of closet cleaning, baseboard dusting, seed catalogue ordering, puzzling (of beautiful spring scenes of course)at solaced tea times, quiet and restful before the full swing of spring is cheerfully unavoidable. We gladly observe the days lengthening and the perennials awakening. So what are girls to do when it's fifty and mild with 'spring-like' conditions? Head on out.

In the garden yesterday, I harvested our last crop of winter brassics- Brussels sprouts. These stalks look a little worse for wear; however, they weathered some less-than-mild conditions late fall. This is variety ‘Jade cross “E”’. These darling little morsels cleaned up nicely, took a good steaming, sautéed in garlic and butter then tossed with parmesan. Mmm.
The tulips are further along this year than projected. It set me to thinking about the work ahead of me this summer. Tulip propagation and maintenance is scheduled for this year. Unlike naturalizing daffodils, when a tulip creates offsets, if not dug-up and separated, the parent bulb suffocates by the crowding of the new bulblets. The underground nursery maid exhausted by its little charges, gives out. No more blooms, weak leaves, maybe. Here’s what ya do:
Sometime in June after the plant has yellowed, unearth the bulb and remove the bulblets. Set them in a lightweight medium in full sun, where there is little chance of dousing with a sprinkler system or the garden hose (here’s the dry, airy rest). Replant them by September’s end for their required cold hours.
Here’s the trick:
A deeply planted bulblet grows fat and large over the course of 3-4 years, to produce the bloom-bearing bulb. If planted deeply (up to 12in), the bulb should be good undisturbed while forming into a mature bulb. A shallower planting (6-8in or less) for an already mature bulb, creates more bulblets for more aggressive propagation, future blooms for the dinner table!


Hollie said...

Brussel sprouts...yum. I haven't tried growing those yet.

Daphne said...

Those sprouts do look just lovely. I've never grown them. I tried last year but the seed didn't germinate. Maybe some year I'll have sprouts.