efficient way to plant 1000

mrtulinNovember 19, 2008

I couldn't resist Van E's 40 0/0 off sale and ordered 1000 muscari bulbs. They will edge a long border. (now that I think about it, if I want them deep, I should have ordered another 1,000. Oh well, next year)

What's a quick way to get these in? It hardly seems worth it to excavate soil for such tiny bulbs. Would a dibble type tool work? The soil is soft enough, I think. I recall a landscaper telling me he just put the spade in and leaned, making a deep wedge he plopped the bulbs into, and then just patted the soil clod back down.

Thanks,

Marie

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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

A lot depends upon where you are located and your zone.

You might update your profile with that info, so it will automatically be shown each time you post, as well as being listed on your member page.

To set up your garden zone and location, just go to the bottom on any page here, and click on Member Pages
Then click on Edit your Personal Information, Page, and Preferences
You will then probably be asked to login in again.

You can then fill in your garden zone and location in the one box provided for the garden zone. see, I am in zone 5/6 S IN

It is usually a lot easier to answer questions when the zone/location is known.

Sue

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 11:26AM
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mchad21

If it were me I would excavate. Muscari doesn't have to be planted that deep, and you say the soil is still workable. Also, if the goal is a carpet effect, then you're going to want them space correctly, and have complete coverage of the area. I'd want to see where each bulb is sitting before covering them all up, rather than plant each one individually with a spade.

Using the exavation method, it takes me about 5-10 minutes to plant 100 bulbs. 1000 is a lot, either way.

Good luck.
Matt

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 11:29AM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

I have a lot of minor bulbs to plant too. I used the excavation method when I first laid out most of the beds but now there are bulbs already in there, and of course I donÂt know where they all are. IÂm toying with the idea of making a stand-up dibble out of a wood dowel rod, sharpened to a point on one end, with a cross-piece nailed along the top, so I can hammer it into the soil if necessary. This way I can make a whole row of holes before having to kneel down to drop the bulbs in. IÂd be able to see the arrangement easily enough that way too.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 2:48PM
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mrtulin

Chemocurl, point well taken on zone. I am positive it used to be up there, and never noticed it disappeared.
I am zone 5A, Massachusetts. Ground is still very workable.
linnea, the stand up dibble is what I had in mind. My husband is a machinist and I was thinking he could even make a very sharp metal tip.
Any other ideas?

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 3:02PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

I do the stab and drop method with a trowel.

but, if I had a machinist spouse making planting tools for me, I think I would try a multi-tip dibble that looks more like a pitchfork. Four or more holes per push!

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 5:53PM
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cynthianovak

If the previous bulbs are bigger and deeper, you might still excavate a little trench. I'm assuming that the soil freezes where you live, so you probably have to go a lot deeper than we do.

I'm thinking about a multi prong dibble and sure do like the idea. Maybe y'all could start a business!

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 6:54PM
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PRO
Nell Jean

I often use a post hole digger and put more than one bulb per hole, creating little clumps of 5 or more, depending on bulb size.

Nell

    Bookmark   November 25, 2008 at 7:25PM
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mrtulin

I've done two trial runs with the multiple dibble head digger, and broke both wooden handles. I got a few stabs in before the second one broke, and the wet soil stuck inbetween the prongs....just like other bulb planters! DH brought home a steel handle, but the tool will be so heavy that he's going to have to do all the dibbling. I think a square nosed shovel is look far more sensible.

We'll try tomorrow and friday to get these foolish bulbs in. One way or another it will happen.

The ground was very hard and crusty last weekend, and I despaired. But we had a buckets of rain yesterday, and the next few days will be in the 40s so I have hope.

How are the rest of you doing with planting your 1000s?

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 11:21PM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

I also made a dibble type tool, and when I tried it the ground was both too dry and partially frozen. It didnÂt go in more than an inch. (Though mine was all wood) Instead I had to dig out small (and too shallow) holes with a trowel. Got 20 bulbs planted in 2 hours. Yesterday I found the ground had thawed (mostly) in the front so ran out and planted about 115, both digging out small sections with a shovel and planting several bulbs, and individually in tighter areas. Still too shallow but it was either that, or not get them in at all. I have about 650 to go. I will just have to keep checking and plant whenever thereÂs a thaw.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2008 at 1:26AM
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mrtulin

Progress!
DH went around the perimeter of the border and excavated 5-6 deep, put the soil on a tarp. I (and a daughter or two, sometimes) followed and planted. The muscari are bagged by variety in 25's. The first 400 I did in 25's, not paying myuch attention to color combo. Then I thought 50's would make more impact, so I started that. We'll see which looks better come spring. Half done. I don't think the soil is prepared as well as it could be, but there's a job to do!
The dibble was a total flop. The soil collapsed into the holes, and the holes were too small for a couple of varieties of the bulbs.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 12:30AM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

Half is good, idabean! ItÂs also funny how with all the tools that have been invented for bulb planting, none of them work as well as just a plain shovel. I think your family will appreciate the springtime beauty more for having participated in creating it. I could not talk either of my kids into helping, but they do look on this 4 day weekend as time to relax, and I canÂt blame them. I canÂt get them to buy into my insanity! My husband spent all day working on our sonÂs car before he takes it back to school.

After my good luck in the front yard yesterday, today I went to the back, only to find that garden is still frozen. But weather is supposed to be cold, including some snow, for the next week, so I figured it was today or possibly not at all.

I chopped out sections and pulled up the soil in crusts, then laid the bulbs in each area. After my first attempt at planting in frozen soil a few days ago, I bought several bags of top soil. The crusts were too hard to lay right back on top of the new bulbs, so I put the soft fresh topsoil on the bulbs, then laid the crusts on top. I was planting crocus (squirrel delicacy) along with small alliums, anemones, and chionodoxa, so after planting topped them all with mulch and laid wire mesh on top and pinned it down with landscape staples. I think the extra steps required (beyond just the planting) made it take 3 times as long. Only about 175 small bulbs, but it took over 2 hours.

I have only 100 daffodils left and maybe 15 lilies.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 10:15PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

Congratulations on the progress! Every bulb in the ground is a little bit of relief, right?

Sorry the dibble didn't work, I always feel like I'm working so hard when I use a big shovel to dig a big hole to plant such tiny bulbs.... but like you said, the results are worth it and it's still the best way.

I wish I could say I have enough motivation to plant through the ice..... but I think laziness would win out over the guilt, and I think my late bulbs would just not happen!

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 4:38PM
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mrtulin

Done! Some "drifts" sat outside for 24 hours in pouring rain, none the worse for wear. And no pilferers from the rodent family. Then I went to check plant some tulips and tiny allium and found I left another bunch in the border uncovered. And going back today, found several on top of the ground, instead of in the soil. That was a mistake of this big mammal, not a little one. I suddenly envisioned a grouping of narcissus to complement the muscari. Then a very loud voice said "NO YOU DOPE. NO MORE. IT WILL SNOW EVENTUALLY. TIME TO STOP".

My daughter went back to Chicago Sunday, and indeed it is freezing and there is snow. Oh, heavens, mid-west winters. Went to Beloit decades ago, and I can still feel that wind whipping across campus. But your solution Linnea, sounds like something I'd come up with. Good luck.

Do you know, I really found your (everyone's() advice and commiseration helpful. And it is nice to check back in. Now I can encourage others to hike up their socks, put on their sweaters and coats, and give it one more try.

Marie

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 3:28PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

Congratulations!
I also heard that voice in my head. First it said "look at the sale prices, you could add some more bulbs at a great price!".... then I (luckily) heard the other voice scolding me.

So I'm done now too. I should probably start thinking of Christmas presents!

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 4:50PM
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ladychroe(z6 NJ)

I heard the voice, too. Mine said, "You will be trying to sell the house this winter. You may not even own the bulbs anymore by the time they bloom." Is it stupid to wait until spring to put the house on the market for the sole purpose of seeing my bulbs bloom?

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 5:09PM
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ladychroe(z6 NJ)

I heard the voice, too. Mine said, "You will be trying to sell the house this winter. You may not even own the bulbs anymore by the time they bloom." Is it stupid to wait until spring to put the house on the market for the sole purpose of seeing my bulbs bloom?

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 5:10PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

haha, not really..... although we waited until spring... and even then I wanted to put off the closing until after the iris bloomed!

Just in case, I hope you planted plenty of the bulbs in the front yard!

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 9:02PM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

You can sell the house; just make the closing date after the bulbs bloom!

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 12:26PM
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