What is your favourite bulb planting tool?

simcan(z5b/Toronto)September 10, 2010

I am just starting to get more into bulbs and have ordered quite a few...of course, a trowel and on my hands and knees will work, but I think it is worth getting something to make the work go faster, neater and easier. There is a bewildering variety of tools out there, all promise the world but some look gimmicky.

So, what is your favourite? There are augers/rotos that you attach to a drill, hand-held plug units, stand-up contraptions, etc. But what works? I have quite heavy/sticky clay, which is presumably a relevant consideration.

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I have rocky Ozark soil to plant in. My favorite tool is a hand mattock, makes pretty good holes and helps me pry out rocks at the same time. If the soil is good, I just use a trowel.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 11:50AM
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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

If I plant a large number of bulbs in an empty space, these are my favorite bulb planting tools:
Bulb planters
The one on the right in the picture has become my very favorite digger for anything as well.

Once in a while I also use a bulb auger attached to a heavy duty drill. It is deathly for worms and existing bulbs in the ground though. It is also difficult to handle in wet clay. I got whacked by the drill handle numerous times.

Since my garden is so stuffed now, I only use a trowel.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2010 at 1:12AM
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I use just a trowel too, I don't plant an enormous amount of bulbs tho. I typically plant in groupings and just dig a nice trench and throw them all in!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2010 at 2:56PM
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newbie_in_nj(6b E/Central NJ)

I've tried the round hand held "hole punchers" (including step-on with long handle) but the soil just gets stuck in it and makes the job a pain.

Trowel on hands and knees, place bulbs and put soil back with gloved hands.

I tamp down soil, spray with some critter repellant and cover with chicken wire or leaves for a couple weeks. Squirrels have been digging up Hyacinth "mound" all summer the little buggers.

If I were planting a whole bed I'd just remove the entire top layer of soil and then layer in bulbs with largest to smallest bulbs in ascending order (with soil in between).

That's just a dream, mind you. I'll be on my hands and knees with the trowel pretty soon. :)

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 7:20PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

A good heavy sharp trowel "has" always been my usual first choice. Since I worked with a very experienced daff grower/collector this past summer though, I may be using a spade to dig 'bigger' holes since I'll be adding soil amendments, something I have not done in the past.

This summer I invested in 2 different nice stainless steel spades with ergonomic handles, and love them both.

I'm hoping to have a lot of prize winning daff blooms in 2011.

Sue...a daff addict

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 10:37PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

I have a long handled bulb planter like pitampini shows on the left in her picture. It is great in my heavy clay IF I have a partner helping me: one person stands and digs holes, the other person kneels and plants and "plugs" the holes with the cores that come out the top of the tool.

Just a note: In very heavy clay soils like I have, your best investment of all is to prepare a bed for your bulbs by breaking up the soil and digging in soil amendments. Bulbs will absolutely rot in poorly drained soil, as I learned to my great sorrow. I planted 700 daffodils my first fall here, and fewer than 50 survived.

If you properly prepare the area, a trowel will more than suffice.

I have since fallen into the habit of underplanting deciduous shrubs with bulbs: roses, hydrangeas, ornamental grasses, etc. This is the best deal of all, as you give the ground another season of bloom. I plant the blooms six inches apart and it's amazing how many bulbs a relatively small area will accomodate.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 10:58PM
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I have deep soil and plant daffs deep but tulips and others just below the surface (I'm zone 7a/b)

I've used an auger, but too many tree roots so it wasn't fund detangling the auger or wrenching my arm as it flew off the power drill.

I go for a sharp trowel for individual bulbs like daffs and tulips, a dibble for small bulbs scattered around and a transplant spade to get daffs down deep one at a time. My soil is sticky and I a, grateful until I try to use one of thos bulb diggers and need to get it out. Too much trouble when I plant 2000 tulips and other bulbs.

my favorite: a long handled flat shovel to move enough topsoil to plant 100 tulips at a time.

good luck

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 12:10AM
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When naturalizing daffodil bulbs, I just use a shovel. Step on the shovel straight down about 6", loosen the soil without removing the shovel blade, opening a gap just enough to place a bulb in, take shovel blade out and step on top of the soil or turf good enough to seal the "hole".

Like cynthianovak, I will sometimes remove enough top soil to plant a large number at one time, esp. if it's a special color or variety.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 2:49PM
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luvahydrangea(Albany, NY 5)

My soil is clay so I dig out the soil with a shovel, toss it into a wheel barrow, mix sand, and manure into it, put down a layer, arrange my bulbs then cover them over and finish with a layer of mulch. I don't like gimicky tools mostly because they don't typically work and actually make the job more difficult. My neighbor always has lots of gadgets and I notice she really seems to struggle and it takes her all day to plant a few bulbs.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2010 at 4:14AM
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I have & auger & love it, with a couple qualifications--I have a heavy-duty 1/2" drill with a side handle to use both hands to control torque, and I don't use it in beds with other bulbs because it will chew them up.

With those limitations, it's amazing - takes 10 seconds to make a hole exactly as deep as you want. If you have someone to drop the bulb in the hole & push dirt back in, you can plant an amazing number in no time.

Did a fair amount of research, would not buy the one advertised online as cordless drill + auger for low low price, I'm sure that both drill & bit are junk. I ended up ordering one from http://www.gardenauger.com/ and has worked well. Got the heavy duty one, which has a sharp blade that cuts through smaller roots. Wasn't cheap but works great.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 1:44PM
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I have the auger and an 18volt drill - garbage! I have clay and rock soil on a slope. So I am slowly terracing, and amending soil and moving the rocks to provide more erosion breaks. Lots of labor but I love it. For bulbs I use a shovel, a tape measure, and a hand 3 prong hoe to smooth out the soil after I've added the necessary amendments and broken all the clumps up. But then, I like playing in the dirt. I guess I never grew up. I don't use a trowel because there is no way to get the trowel through the clay. But where I've finally managed to make beds a trowel works great and I don't need a shovel at all anymore.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 10:58AM
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