He’s STILL Planting Bulbs?


Check out yesterday's Doonesbury strip, and today's as well (by hitting Next), if you haven't already.

Doonesbury in the Garden.


  1. He might as well be me (although to be perfectly honest, I never have more than a few days’ facial hair). My wife keeps buying tulip (both hybrid and ‘wild’, whatever those are) and allium bulbs, and I keep trying to find time to prepare an area for a mass planting of les bulbs.

  2. I think it’s awesome that Doonesbury has a garden-related theme running this week! I will admit to having talked to my bulbs as I’ve planted them, but I’ve never heard them talk back.

    And Zonker reminds me that I’d better get serious about adding some more bulbs for spring.

  3. I am so thrilled to see Zonker back in the garden! It’s been too long. He’s a kindred spirit of GR’s own Elizabeth in his current efforts.

    Great to meet you at GWA, Amy. Hide a key for your DH next time you leave!

  4. I’ve cut these strips out of the paper as a reminder that we’re constantly bombarded by anecdotal horticulture information at best, and just plain wrong information at worst!

    Many spring-flowering bulbs are actually native to rocky slopes of hills and mountains throughout the eastern Mediterranean and Caucasus regions of Eurasia.

    In these regions plants arising from bulbs, corms and tubers receive ample moisture from snow melt in the spring followed by intense sunlight that drives the plant food manufacturing process of photosynthesis between the time their flowers fade and their foliage dies down in midsummer. Finally, these plants survive absolutely bone dry conditions from summer to the following winter in a protective state of dormancy.

    So, being planted in a rocky soil is precisely the conditions in which these plants evolved – not the loamy sands of Holland as implied in the strip!

    Meanwhile, having supervised the planting of several hundred thousand bulbs over the course of my career, I’ve concluded there is absolutely no need to create a carefully prepared “bed” for your bulbs!

    Rather, for large bulbs I recommend using a “planting bar,” like those offered by Brent and Becky’s Bulbs or those used to plant tree seedlings, and a stout trowel for small bulbs, corms and tubers.

    Simply jam the tool into the ground, rock it back and forth to open a slit, drop/push the bulb into the opening, then jam it closed with the heal of your boot! It doesn’t even matter whether they’re pointed up or down – nature can figure that part out without our guidance!

    Jab and stick, jab and stick, jab and stick.

    Once you’ve got a rhythm going, you can plant 150 large bulbs or upwards of 500 small bulbs per hour using this simple technique!

    What about bonemeal, start fertilizers and other condiments, you might ask?

    No need!

    I’ll bet if you were to analyze the results of soil tests sent to state labs throughout much of the country – like they have here in New York, you’d find that the vast majority of lawn, landscape and gardens soils are pretty well endowed with adequate to high levels of phosphorous and potassium (nitrogen, too, though it’s more difficult to measure accurately).

    To get a better understanding of where and how many of our favorite spring flowering bulbs grow naturally, thumb through a copy of the Random House Book of Bulbs by Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix, ISBN 978-0679727569.

    Let’s not make gardening any harder than it needs to be.

    Using the technique described above, most gardeners should be able to plant their annual order of a couple hundred bulbs in an hour – or less!

  5. Most gardeners but not in most of New England. They may be native to rocky slopes but that makes the planting difficult. Pneumatic drill in hand, I go out to plant bulbs in New England.

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