1 Over the last couple of weeks, thousands and thousands of bulbs arrived at the farm. This year, I ordered an abundance of tulip bulbs in various shades of purples, blues, whites and oranges.
2 As each delivery arrived, Ryan organized them into bins and prepared them for planting.
3 Every box and bin was given a marker to indicate where they would be planted.
4 These tulip bulbs looked so healthy. Any kind of bulb should be firm and free of soft spots or visible rot. Check for signs of disease, cracking or other damage, which may cause the bulb to rot in the ground.
5 Most of the tulip bulb varieties came in batches of 24 or 25, and in all, there were nearly five thousand tulip bulbs - that's right, 5000. It was very exciting.
6 This year, I decided to plant an entire garden of tulips where my pumpkin patch was located. The area measures 73-feet by 31-feet. About three-fifths of it would be filled with rows and rows of tulips.
7 For this tulip garden, I wanted the rows of flowers to be very straight. Planning where to plant the bulbs needed to be exact. Ryan and Wilmer, marked the dimensions of the space with gardeners twine and bamboo stakes.
8 Gardeners twine was also secured across the length of the space to divide and mark the field into thirds - these marked footpaths.
9 One end would be the base line for all the rows of tulips, so it was measured exactly.
10 Bulbs were placed along the twine to see how many would fit perfectly in each section row.
11 Because most of the tulip bulbs were in groups of 24 or 25, it worked out to have them each about four to five inches apart. A longer piece of bamboo was marked to serve as a guide.
12 The first row was carefully dug with a garden hoe. Tulip bulbs are medium sized, so they should be buried at least eight-inches deep. As a rule of thumb, bulbs should be planted about three times the height of the actual bulb.
13 Once the trench was dug, a light layer of bone meal was sprinkled over the area. Be sure there is always a thin layer of soil between the bulb and the fertilizer, so the bulb does not get fertilizer burn.
14 The bone meal was mixed with more soil and one by one, Wilmer placed each bulb into the trench.
15 Each bulb was carefully placed underneath the twine, so it followed a straight line.
16 Wilmer was careful to place each bulb with the pointed end faced up. This is important for all bulbs. If the pointed end is not obvious, look for the flat side of the bulb, which is the bottom.
17 It was important to get the first row as accurate as possible because it would be a guide to all the rows that followed.
18 Wilmer also nestled each bulb so that it was secure in the soil - this would ensure the bulbs did not move when they were buried.
19 Rows were about 10-inches apart, and footpaths, perpendicular to the others, were made after every fourth row of tulip bulbs.
20 This soil was already very rich in organic compost made right here at my farm.
21 The twine really helped to keep the walls of the trenches straight.
22 Ryan and Wilmer decided it would be faster to dig larger trenches and plant two or three or four rows at a time.
23 Any rocks and stones were removed from the soil, so they did not impede any bulb growth. Since this garden bed had just been used for the pumpkins and squash, there wan't much to remove, and the soil was very rich in organic matter.
24 Bone meal is a mixture of finely ground animal bones used as a slow-release organic fertilizer for plants and source of phosphorous and protein.
25 As with every trench made, a light layer of bone meal was sprinkled in and then mixed with the existing soil.
26 This was one of many crates of bulbs that was planted in the space. Bulbs are alive, but dormant, so they prefer to be in the soil. If they cannot be planted promptly, store them in a dark, dry location with good air circulation and temperatures averaging about 50 to 65-degrees Fahrenheit.
27 Wilmer gently placed each bulb in its place.
28 Pointed end up.
29 These tulips will look magnificent once they bloom, all in perfect rows.
31 It is time consuming to plant 5000-bulbs, but come spring, this garden will be bursting with beautiful color.
32 The brown tunic, or outer skin protects each bulb's bottom or basil plate. You can peel it off, or plant as is - most of these skins were already falling off the bulbs.
33 This raised section of soil was a marked footpath that ran along the entire length of the field. Footpaths are important in a cutting garden, so all the flowers can be accessed easily.
34 After each row was complete, Wilmer counted up the bulbs, and made any necessary adjustments.
35 More rows of bulbs were carefully placed.
36 Finally, a backfill of soil covered them all.
37 Markers were left on the perimeter to show what varieties were planted in what rows.
38 After all the tulip bulbs were planted, the garden was raked and leveled. What spring blooming bulbs have you planted?