Sunday, February 16, 2014

No Joy in Snowville

Why, oh why Lord, doest thou test me so?   I discovered today that my last effort at winter gardening has failed.  I am chastened, abashed at my incompetence, unsteady and unwise.  I've lived quite a saga this winter in my meager attempts to develop even a token few blooms.  Way back in late September I planted, with high expectations, several spare pots full of daffodil bulbs and I placed them out around a Redbud tree to let them winter over.  Unfortunately, I placed them near the rock retaining wall at the back door and within a week, every bulb had been removed, presumably by pack rats stocking their winter larder.  As evidence, I later found two partially gnawed bulbs in the crevices in the wall.  I hope the pack rats choked on them. 
In October, I planted the four containers above (and three others), full of daffodil and tulip bulbs, ready to burst into flower at a moment of my clever choosing in the depths of winter.  I was smarter this time and I placed them down in the unheated barn, covered with chicken wire, where they rested through the cold days and nights.  I had hopes of providing them as lottery gifts to our March Extension Master Gardener's potluck. 

In the meantime, I was busy failing to grow Amaryllis for Christmas.  I purchased two 'Red Lion' bulbs at a local nursery on the first of November and began growing them in our sunroom.  They grew slowly and timidly, and ultimately one flowered a single, deep red, and unsatisfying bloom around the 2nd week of January.  So much for Amaryllis at Christmas.  The other bulb never bloomed, but the leaves look healthy enough.  Maybe I can keep them around for another try next year.

In mid-January, I finally remembered the potted bulbs in the barn and pulled them up into the breakfast nook in front of a large window for warmth and light and began waiting.  I waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.  Finally today, 5 weeks after bringing them inside, upon noticing a few wisps of errant grass coming up in the pots (probably from the hay in the barn near their storage area), I broke down and emptied a pot, only to find the remains of rotted bulbs everywhere.  Woe, oh woe is me.  I promise that I didn't overwater them.  A little moistened potting soil at the beginning was provided.  How could they possibly rot?  Too cold in the barn?

To borrow from the famous poem "Casey at the Bat" by Ernest Thayer, there will be no joy in Snowville this year, because mighty ProfessorRoush has struck out.  Zero for three tries at forcing bulbs this winter.  My only real chance of blooms now are the snow crocus that I planted in the fall, still buried at present beneath the snows.   Perhaps, if I increase my nightly prayers and double my church attendance, there will be a chance I'll see them by May.


  1. Maybe nature is sending you a message , and just maybe that message is saying 'Stick to roses, Professor! Stick to what you know best' ! Just a thought! :-)
    On a more serious note, i do find forced bulbs very unreliable, and nurtured 3 hyacinths , only to have 3 misshapen , blighted flowers which didn't even smell good !

    1. Yes....roses....ordered eight more last week!

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  3. I feel your pain. In mid-November, I excavated a number of pips of lily of the valley from the earth—albeit with a pry bar because the soil was frozen—in hopes of forcing them for Christmas. I put them in a 50 F room with bright light. They sulked, finally throwing up the occasional leaf and no more. A daffodil bulb retrieved from outside at about the same time did the same thing. Our amaryllis, though reliable, prefers to bloom at the end of February, but surprised us by also blooming in August, after a summer outdoors. And I thought forcing bulbs was easy.
    Michael in snowy Montana

    1. Montana is occasionally interesting to me but you aren't selling me on moving there :)

    2. . . . and now I have a 4' snowdrift outside my front door, a current temperature of 0 F, and a wind chill of -22 F. In many years, garden clean-up is underway by now, and many seedlings in the cold greenhouse will have germinated. Instead, there is a fair chance today's garden inspection will involve snowshoes, and there is no chance I can open the greenhouse door. I console myself with the knowledge that at least the bulbs will be well hydrated for their April and May show.


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