Where were you/when you oughta been plantin’?


I have a confession. You will not be impressed, my fine fellow gardeners. I have a guilty secret hidden away in some brown paper bags in our hall cupboard, and I hardly dare look or think about those brown paper bags. For inside those bags are waiting…. Oh, how can I tell you this? Inside those bags are my spring bulbs which I still haven’t planted.

All right, all right. In my defence, November was tricky. We had just bought our flat and were hellbent for weeks on stripping out the hideous decor. Then when I finally got round to doing the same thing to the garden, a five-hour session of incinerating the shrubbery in the December rain while inhaling copious amounts of thick smoke led to a nasty cold with chronic cough which I’d just about got over by Christmas, when horrors, I caught a second dose of it on Boxing day, this time with ensuing chest infection and more unsightly coughing.

‘I told you not to spend so much time outdoors in the cold,’ says the Brazilian at smug intervals as I hack my pleura up into a handkerchief. ‘When will you learn?’

I resent this. Why shouldn’t I go outdoors in the cold? I’m young and sprightly, not a geriatric at all. Being from Brazil, the Brazilian thinks that anything under about ten degrees is highly dangerous. Still, I feel utterly pathetic, a sort of cross between King Theoden withering away on his throne while his wicked advisor whispered caution in his ear, and Proust who died of a cold (how just like a man).

Oh, but the guilt about those bulbs. ‘Oh sinner woman,’ I sing to myself, ‘When you gonna plant ’em? Oh sinner woman, when you gonna plant ’em?’ All on that day, of course. But which day? At last, almost cough-free, it was going to be this Saturday. The Brazilian will be at work all weekend so I could just slip outside unnoticed and shove them into the ground somewhere, anywhere…

Well, we all know what happened to the sinner woman:

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 19.14.54

She ran to the weekend, it was SNOWING, she ran to the weekend, it was POURING, she ran to the weekend, it was FREEZING, all on that day. All on both days, in fact. I can’t see myself planting bulbs in this sort of weather, frankly.

So she ran to her duvet, it was waitin’, she ran to her duvet, it was waitin’, she ran to her duvet, it was waitin’, all on that day.

13 thoughts on “Where were you/when you oughta been plantin’?”

  1. Well thank heavens they are not in polythene bags. Now, brace yourself. Duvet indeed! Tomorrow in Edinburgh it’s unlikely to be raining between 10am and 4. At about 1pm there is zero chance of precipitation. It will be windy and feel cold but if you put on enough layers you will be fine.
    If no-one has given you a bulb planter for Christmas go out and buy one before 10am while you are waiting for it to stop raining. A good one will halve your work.
    What’s in those bags? Any crocuses are probably out of time by now and may even have flowered miserably and accusingly in the bag. However, if they seem to be sprouting healthily you might do best to plant them in bowls. Leave the bowls outdoors till they are about to flower and then bring them in and amaze the Brazilian. The big advantage of this plan is that crocuses are the most fiddly bulbs to plant and this way you can do it indoors. But you could try planting them out if they seem healthy enough. Exactly the same applies to small early daffodils and hyacinths, although these are unlikely to have flowered in the bag.
    Hyacinths are probably on the border-line of what is still fine to plant out now, plus later daffodils and tulips. Little early tulips may be too late, ditto early irises. Late tulips will be absolutely fine. I haven’t managed to plant mine yet either. Indeed I hope to plant them tomorrow, as I have hoped every Saturday since November.
    The bottom line is that any bulb that hasn’t gone off or sprouted straggly flaccid growth will probably be all right. What they will have missed is root development, so a phosphate-rich fertiliser might help them catch up. Their chances of coming back next year will have been compromised, but it’s certainly not hopeless.
    Three points. 1. A little mould on bulbs is not a cause for worry, especially on tulips. I think it probably goes away when they are planted. 2. When planting bulbs, dust the hole with bonemeal. 3. Do not expect the Brazilian or any other man (except, possibly, the Cousin), to notice your bowls of indoor bulbs by himself, unless you plant them on his keyboard. 4. When you have planted your bulbs outside absolutely drench the planting places. The resulting mudbath deters mice, birds and squirrels from digging them up and gives them a chance to settle in. 5. There is no fifth point.
    Afterwards you can go and have some of the lovely soup and crusty bread they do at that yoga café round the corner.

    1. That sounds great advice. I was pleased to hear that mould on tulips is OK as I planted some in that condition earlier. I would only add to check the firmness of the bulbs too. If some have gone soft then they are probably not worth planting.

  2. That’s the spirit! You are a veritable Gandalf. I’ll pick up a bulb planter on your advice… always thought they were the sort of tool that you didn’t know you needed until you got one for christmas, but i’ll give it a go.
    The bags contain narcissi and late tulips, so perhaps all is not lost.

  3. Reblogged this on My Aberdeen Garden and commented:
    I am reblogging this for two reasons. 1 – it made me laugh and 2 – the advice given by Earth Mother 1 in the comment could be really useful for anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation.

  4. Well you are not the only one. I too have bags of unplanted bulbs waiting reproachfully. I haven’ t planted them for the same reason as you. It is so shameful to have bags of unplanted bulbs in January but if you are brave enough to tell the world than I will too.
    Lovely to find your blog.

  5. Tut, tut! You too, Chloris? Well then, I can confess to a bag of tulip bulbs still in the shed! Thanks to Earth Mother’s advice, I’m off to plant up the pot I planned in October – in between gusts and showers, and before the snow, of course!

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