How do you make yourself go plant bulbs when it is COLD?!

linnea56(z5 IL)November 19, 2008

Arghh! I was waiting for Indian summer to plant my bulbs. (ThatÂs my excuse and IÂm sticking to itÂ.IÂm not a weather wimp, IÂm not, IÂm notÂ) I donÂt think it ever came.

Then it was either raining or I was out of town every free weekend. I checked the weather Monday and picked today as the warmest upcoming day to plant. So then last night I came down with a bad cold, I can hardly lean my head down without my sinuses feeling like they will explode. IÂm sneezing so hard the cat is hiding under the sofa.

How do you get yourself to go out and DO IT? I have lilies I dug up to move, plus new daffodils and lots of minor bulbs to plant. Plus unplanted sale perennials I need to sink into the vegetable garden.

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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

First, linnea, ask for some HELP. I had obtained 2000 (yep thousands) daffodils to plant at our church last week-end when it turned dreadfully cold and windy. My dh made phone calls and lined up 10 dear souls who showed up to help, including one dear soul with a rototiller. We got done in one hour and thiry minutes (think how long it would have taken ONE person! 10 x 1.5=15 hours)

Second, get well first. No matter how much those bulbs cost, it's not worth risking a major illness.

Third, have a back-up plan. If necessary, pot them up (No digging). You can plant them next spring after they bloom.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 4:41PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

I'll let you know once I figure it out. I have numerous named varieties of daffs, and hyacinths so they will be being planted in clumps, complete with a good metal tag, and then information logged for my record keeping.

I'm thinking today might be a good day to get a lot planted. It wasn't that cold last night, and is sunny, 40, with just light breeze making it 37 with the windchill. Flannel lined jeans, wool socks, multiple layers on top, and a stocking hat should keep me warm enough.

If the ground isn't frozen, and the wind howling, just bundle up and do a little at a time.

If the ground has frozen, you might consider buying some bags of soil, and planting them shallowly above ground level, and topping them off with some mulch if you have it.

You can do it!


    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 11:19AM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

Thanks for the support. I see from other postings that I am not alone in having stalled too long! Except IÂm not a newbie and should know better. Why have I become such a wimp? I canÂt ask for help, my husband thinks I have enough stuff in the garden as it is; he did all the fall cleanup, mulching, trimming, raking, etc., while I was travelling for work. I bought a mattock pick, maybe that will make it easier, if I can just slam a hole into the ground and drop something in.

Funny but I remember having ordered late lilies, etc., from various sales in the past and planting them in December. But those were only a few things, and it did not seem like such a big deal. I slapped myself several times this fall over ordering from the late sales and managed to not hit the order button. The bulbs I have sitting in the garage were bought locally quite a while ago now.

I think the quantity I have is a deterrent. I kept waiting for the right time to dig out an old bed full of wild daylilies where a lot of the transferred lilies are supposed to be going as well as most of the new daffodils (not to mention all the sale perennials I picked up this the fall). Thanks to rain I got only a fraction of that done, since it takes so long to pick out all the fragments of daylily root. I never even got my dahlias dug up, theyÂve probably rotted by now.

But I canÂt use that excuse for the bulbs I bought for the 3 main beds! Obviously I did not prioritize correctly. I seem to have a real problem with that: I have an idea in my head of what I want. Instead of doing first, the things that CAN be done, I will focus on something new and exciting, like, "Now that the neighbor took that old tree down, IÂll renovate that old bed beside the house that will now be sunny, and put some more interesting things in there." Never mind that it will take hours of backbreaking labor to dig out many feet of hard clay soil. And thereÂs something about approaching winter, I canÂt seem to get anything accomplished. IÂm just spinning my wheels.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 2:40PM
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Just in case you were thinking....they wont store through winter and expect them to be able to be planted next fall--they cant survive that long.
And you cant pot them up...its too late to think forcing.
You might try a little blackmail with a neighbor who might like a few bulbs for herself if she will only come over and give you a hand.

Or, trust the weatherman isn't wrong all the time and better weather is still in the offing and you will have good days to want to get out and work the garden.
The key word is 'want' to see all that gorgeous color next spring and aren't you glad you put up with some biting chills to achieve it.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 3:08PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

Well, I just came in. It is now 37 with a wind chill of 33. I got several clumps planted and a LOT of weeding done, and cutting back perennials in a bed that had gotten away from me pretty badly. I now can see where I can do more bulb planting.

I'm off to make some more tags and get more planted. It didn't even seem cold out, with all the warm clothes I've got on. Wearing a hat really helps keep one warm.

I'm wondering too, if there might be a warm up yet in your area, where the ground will thaw out. I know a lot of the NE US has been having below normal temps.

Normal for today here is 54/38.

Here is a link that might be useful: Weather Underground-fill in your zip

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 3:41PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

My motivation depends on my desperation. The colder it gets, the shorter I'm out and the more bulbs end up in each hole.

In September I weed, do soil prep, space properly.. carefully plan out color combinations. In December I jam the shovel in, rock it forward, throw in a handful of bulbs and give the dirt a kick back down. Over the years I've learned how many rules I can break... plus the 3 bags of crocus I dumped into one hole sure look established when they come up as a thick patch of bloom!

The only problem then is I have to re-motivate myself in June to divide and transplant overcrowded bulbs.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 5:46PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

Obviously I did not prioritize correctly. I seem to have a real problem with that:
I hear you, as I am the exact same way and need to learn to do first what needs to be done, as opposed to what I want to do.
Late planting and what one can possibly do with bulbs if the ground is frozen would make a good FAQ here. I remember seeing stressed folks here with unplanted bulbs each fall/winter, and then some who even 'discover' unplanted bulbs in the spring.

I went back and read just a few threads from Nov 2006, and found this one. OK to delay planting a bit? asks wimp

Linnea...seems we might always be destined to be procrastinators when it comes to making ourselves brave the elements and get things planted.

Kato...I am surprised at you! I just cannot imagine that you would admit to such a thing....shaking head....


    Bookmark   November 21, 2008 at 1:33PM
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Cindi McMurray

Linnea, I'm in the same boat with you. (See? That's me shivering in the back). Every year I find myself planting bulbs clear into January and February. I always think I'm finished, then I find another clearance sale, or another overlooked bag of bulbs stashed away in the garage. My excuse is, here in Kansas we have wild temperature swings, and we might get a 65 degree day in December, and another in January, and I always think I'll be free to plant when that nice day comes. Today our cold wind has slowed to "only" 20 mph so I know I need to get my rear outside and plant, since tomorrow the wind will be 30 or more, and Monday I have carpal tunnel release surgery on the 2nd hand. With both hands weak, I doubt I'll get to plant more this year. The Van Engelen order got here Thursday and those lily bulbs are nice and plump. They'll give me beautiful blooms if I just get going...but I'm just like Kato--this time of year the holes get shallower and I dump 5 in each hole instead of 3. I can't ask for help either since everyone tells me I already have more than I can take care of--wouldn't want to admit anyone is right on that.
A week ago the dirt was perfect and easy to work, and I dug until dark every day.
Hmmm if I stay indoors, I should clean house. I'd rather get dirty outdoors than indoors, blecch.
Linnea, I think you should rest and wait for a sunny day later when you feel up to it, then just plant them wherever it is easiest to dig. If the bloom colors clash, you cut all for a bouquet. You can move them next year, same with the perennials.
Put on soft music, get a soft blanket and a coffee table gardening book, make yourself some hot tea, and relax.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 3:56PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

Whoo-Hoo! It is sunny and 40 here already today, and heading to 49. The normal is 53.

It looks like I am being given one more chance to get a lot of bulbs planted today. Hopefully what little bit the ground was frozen, will have thawed by now in the sunlight.

I'm hoping everyone gets more 'decent' chances at getting their many new bulbs either planted in the ground, or a very large container, or at least buried above in throwing some soil and mulch over them. Kato_b mentioned in another thread...we sound like a Support Group for those who for whatever reason still have bulbs that have not been planted.

Best of luck to everyone at getting 'everything' planted in same way.


    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 11:58AM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

I meant to say...
Best of luck to everyone at getting 'everything' planted in 'some' way.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 11:59AM
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ladychroe(z6 NJ)

I'm 3 months pregnant, with an overflowing box of perhaps 500 big bulbs and 700 small ones. Please be stern and tell me to go outside and plant them, and quit laying around and watching TLC and fooling around online (like now).

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 12:35PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)


How's that for being stern? Hey...if you don't get them planted, you might think about mailing them to me, so the poor babies won't waste away, since they will not keep until spring.

Sue...heading out now...It's 46 out!...and sunny!

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 1:39PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

heh heh. Sue is inviting people to send her more bulbs. heh heh.

Maybe this should be the "I'm addicted to bulb collecting" thread.

Ladychroe, you and the baby get out there and get to work! You might want to keep an eye on proper spacing.... I don't think you'll be doing too much late spring/summer dividing and transplanting!

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 7:53PM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

I felt halfway over my cold today, when the weather was supposed to be the highest in a while, 42 F, and even kind of sunny. After a few non-postponable family commitments, I put on a scarf, hat, and down coat and headed out at 2 pm to make tracks before the sun went down at four. Dashing back and forth between the garage and the back yard assembling tools and my huge tray of bulbs, I chortled, "It doesnÂt even FEEL cold!" I decided to start with the little bulbs like chionodoxa that needed shallow 3 inch holes, thinking once I got those done I would feel a great sense of accomplishment.

Then I started digging my first little hole. I thought, "WhatÂs that yucky white mold under the mulch?" and plunged my trowel in. Or not. (Did I hit a rock? Move trowel over, try againÂ) Nothing happened. The trowel did not go in even an inch. ThatÂs when I realized the funny looking white stuff was not mold, but ICE CRYSTALS. The ground was already frozen! In mid-November! IÂve planted later than this before! How can this be??? I got a pickaxe and managed to plant maybe 50 before the sun was too far down to continue. That is, if you can call it "planting" when you put a chunk of frozen dirt on top of a bulb and canÂt press it down knowing that if you do, you will crush the bulb. 3 inch deep hole, hah. Those chionodoxa are an inch down if anything.

50 down, 650 to goÂ.ItÂs supposed to snow tomorrow.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 9:08PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

Oh NO Linnea!

Don't tell me you aren't going to get all those lovelies planted and that you are going to have to send them to me, so the poor babies won't waste away, since they will not keep until spring.

I got some planted today, and am just chugging along, and hoping to be done by Wed eve.


    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 10:05PM
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Oh linnea56! I went out yesterday and today and found about 2" of frost on top of normal dirt in the beds. But today the sun was out enough today to warm up the grass around our hanging basket shepard's hook that I got another 30 tulips in the ground around it. I put the sod chunks back over the circle. I hope tulips can grow up through the grass. Only 20 more to go for me.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 10:18PM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

I need some more data to plan. Is there someplace where you can find this information? For example, how long does ground stay frozen once it gets warmer than 32? Today was sunny and 42, I would have thought that would have helped. Oddly enough, the hardest frozen parts were the exposed bare dirt ones, and the areas where I had to move off the mulch or leaves were not as bad. Still frosty but not stone-like as were the bare areas.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 11:11PM
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LOL. I have to chuckle at this post as I too am a procrastinator. This is my first year with bulbs. My excuse is that I wanted to give the squirrels less opportunity to get to my tulip bulbs. Chuckle.

I let my dogs outside this morning, realized the temps had warmed up, so I rushed out to get my bulbs planted...I have two types of tulips, muscari, 3 types daffodils, hyacinth, crocuses, and I think that's it.

The ONLY thing I got planted were all of my Corona tulips, and some of my Best Red before the sun started to set. ARGGHHHHHH. The weather was nice enough though, I too dread the cold temps.

I didn't realize it was going to be so time consuming, it's a lot of work trying to get around the roots of my Ajuga to get the bulbs in. Now, I can only hope the squirrels don't get to my tulips. I sprayed them with Repels All before and after planting.

I have no idea where to put the rest of my bulbs. I started digging around my boxwood (just planted this year) and ran into the root system.

Yes, it's supposed to snow tomorrow. Will I ever get the rest in the ground??? My husband said I should just throw the rest outside as charity to the squirrels (translated that means he doesn't want to be pulled into last minute bulb planting in freezing weather). Come spring, though, he'll be commenting on the lovely show of spring blooms.

Good luck with getting your bulbs planted.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 11:29PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

I would keep an eye one the forecast, looking for a day with temps above freezing, after there has been a day or two of temps above 32 by day, and not much below 32 at night.


Here is a link that might be useful: fill in your zip for your forecast

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 11:31PM
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