What follows bulbs

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Sat, 14 Aug 2004 15:33:15 PDT
This is a new topic that we've probably had some time ago, but I was 
inspired to reintroduce it by Jim McKenney's suggestion that there is a 
polarity in gardening with rare bulbs at one end and tomatoes at the other.

I have a large crescent-shaped border by my driveway that is packed with 
winter-to-spring bulbs, and I'm always looking for things that will follow 
the bulbs and flower through summer without needing supplemental water that 
would harm the bulbs. The past couple of years I've been direct-sowing 
various annuals there to see what will happen.

Some good results have been had with annual poppies (Shirley and 
somniferum), Convolvulus tricolor, the new color strains of Calendula, 
Campanula incurva (a sort of prostrate Canterbury bells), and Antirrhinum 
braun-blanquetii (no doubt other Antirrhinum species would also do well). 
This year I sowed a bunch of seed that had been stored in a box in the 
refrigerator and for some reason dumped in a packet of tomato seed. To my 
surprise, the tomatoes germinated and grew on through several frosts, and 
now they're flowering and setting fruit. Although tomatoes are ordinarily 
thought of as liking lots of irrigation, these must be flourishing because 
of the deep sand-and-gravel mulch on the bed. And, of course, the nutrient 
preferences of tomatoes and bulbs are similar: low nitrogen, high 
phosphorus and potassium.

Thus, no polarization: you can grow tulips in spring and food in summer in 
the same place, and you need not depend on the "Master Gardeners" among 
your acquaintance for tomatoes.

I will admit that my normal tomato patch is in the vegetable garden, which 
is off out of sight of the ornamental garden and is indeed a bare tilled 
plot in winter, except for the leeks and other vegetables that keep in the 
ground here.

What plants -- ornamental or edible -- do others sow over their bulb beds?

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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