What follows bulbs

DaveKarn@aol.com DaveKarn@aol.com
Mon, 16 Aug 2004 09:57:46 PDT
In a message dated 8/16/04 9:25:39 AM Pacific Daylight Time, 
jimmckenney@starpower.net writes:

> Can anyone point us to some real facts? 
Jim ~

Does experience count?

I grow quite a few tunicate and non-tunicate bulbs right out in the open on 
property at 1100' elevation in the foothills of the West side of the Cascades.  
I try to keep all growth off the beds and rows so that the bulbs therein can 
stay warm and dry until the advent of the fall rains trigger root growth.  
This, I have found, is particularly import with hyacinth and colchicum.  These 
two are grown in slightly elevated beds, even, to accentuate the mantra "perfect 
drainage" . . .  I've lost none of them to fusarium.  Although, like you, I 
struggle each year with bulb fly.  Oh, for some of those chemicals of yore 
whereby a quick dip into them would protect the bulb until it was dug again!  
Trudging several acres with a fully loaded backpack sprayer three-four times over 
six weeks does more for my health than abstention from Big Macs . . .

Nonetheless, I never cease to be amazed at what I find when digging 
daffodils.  Even now, after weeks of heat and dryness, six-seven inches down, the soil 
in the root zone is still cool, dark and dampish!  This causes some major 
problems with things like poeticus which will throw their new roots by late June, 
so they have to be dug before then, green leaves, or no.  That dampness is 
also a haven for a whole range of organisms that find the bulbs a tasty snack 
while awaiting the return of more favorable and wetter weather.  

Given that, planting anything over the beds would only shade them and 
preserve more of the soil moisture, exacerbating some of these problems.  I have 
pulled up luxuriant biennial weeds (composites) from these areas to be amazed at 
how much free water was in the area; the soil is actually wet!  They must 
absorb moisture from the dew [or very rare (light) summer rain] and husband it 
around the root zone.  All this tells me to practice the "Napoleonic scorched 
earth" practice and leave no weed or other plant standing on a bulb bed.  As I 
have previously stated, as a bulb grower, bulb foliage and the (apparently, to 
many) "messy" appearance of the senescing foliage is part and parcel of the 
process and something that I am oblivious to.  I suppose, to accentuate the 
eccentricity here, what I find attractive are those clean, weed free rows with their 
plethora of white labels marking each stock; a "pet cemetery" was one 
observation, once.

Dave Karnstedt
Cascade Daffodils
Silverton, Oregon
email:  davekarn@aol.com

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