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Gardening in the Rainy Zone.
The Inevitable Fall Race
It's bulb planting time
No project ever seems to be without a glitch, and for me bulb-planting season is filled with a series of glitches and hurdles in a race against time. I am ready to face the season of the falling leaves, with plenty of garden projects.
I can't wait to tackle the stacks of fall catalogs cluttering my office. Thumbing through every page, looking at the glossy images, and reading their descriptions, I know expert word wranglers write these catalogs. They spin creative plant characterizations that urge me to buy, buy, and buy. I feel like a child in a toy store, as bright red, striped tulips jump out from the page. I mark, tag and mutilate each catalog filled with giant alliums, tulips, daffodils, crocus, lilies and every little specialty bulb, tuber, corm or rhizome. Writing down my selections, the grand total reaches proportions rivaling Santa's toy list. After treating myself for shock, I look at the items again, moving many entries over to the wishful-thinking column, until the amount of plants left, align with my garden budget.
I have a month to prepare a space in the garden for my new purchases. I'm confident I will complete the groundwork before the bulbs arrive at my front door. With the list whittled down to a manageable amount of plants, I am positive there is room in the garden, after I make a few adjustments, and time to plant every one. I send off the orders.
The first box arrives, announced by the doorbell ring. I eagerly open the box like it's a Christmas present and spill bags of bulbs, envelopes, and planting directions across the kitchen counter, showering flecks of soil and packing material across the newly mopped floor. Boxes always seem to arrive after a thorough cleaning, yet I don't care. For now, I'm going to dance around the kitchen, holding bags of bulbs in each hand, anticipating the production of digging them into the soil, for next spring's floral show.
Finally, the rest of the boxes arrive. I've checked them off my list, saved all the receipts, put each bulb's name into my database. Sounds organized? Hardly. I haven't planted anything yet.
I grab the bulb planter, shovel, fertilizer and the first bulbs to go into the ground, throwing everything into a five-gallon bucket. It never seems to fail, I walk into the garden about the same time an autumn squall opens its flood gates, dumping a large quantity of huge raindrops, soaking me within seconds. I mutter, “Very funny!” I'm determined to continue my planting quest, in spite of nature spitting on the ground. I dash inside, slip on my hat, rain coat and muck boots. Quickly the small storm passes through, and the sun peeks out. A rainbow in the distance tells me the squall is still kicking up a fuss somewhere else. Here I stand in the fresh-washed air, a bag of 100 lily-flowering tulips in one hand, a shovel in the other, wondering—where am I going to plant them?
I pick a spot and plunge the shovel into the humus rich, moist earth. The earthy aroma of healthy soil is released and heartily greets my nose. This is the perfect place for bulbs to send up their green leaves and for colorful blossoms to welcome in the new growing season. I plant the last bulb into the large drift of tulips, shovel the remaining dirt over the deep holes, and water the ground thoroughly. By then my hands are caked with soil after discarding my gloves halfway through the project; my face is streaked with mud and sweat, but I keep working, digging, plopping bulbs in their holes, backfilling and watering.
After a few hours of working, I hear a squirrel launch into animated chatter. I assume it's about the anticipation of digging the disturbed soil where I just finished planting some over-priced specialty bulbs. Squinting my eyes towards the clamor in the tree across the lane, I catch a glimpse of the chatterbox. I drop my shovel, run to the toolbox, rummage through a pile of tools until I find wire cutters. I reach for the roll of one-inch gauge chicken wire, set aside for another project. Cutting the chicken wire to size and placing it over the newly planted bed, I hear the squirrel continue its excited chatter, and another one joins in the chorus.
Two squirrels appear in my paranoid imagination, plotting their assassination of my freshly planted bulbs. Looking at the chicken wire haphazardly placed over the soft, loose soil, I doubt this will discourage any self-respecting, intelligent rodent for long. In case the bushy-tailed creatures are cagey enough to remove the wire deterrent, I haul in large rocks, placing them over the top of the wire. Throwing compost over the bed to hide it, I anticipate I'll remember to remove the rodent deterrent before the bulbs break ground this winter. But at this time the bulbs are safe from bandits.
Only 999 bulbs left to plant.
by Debbie Teashon