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Keep bulbs healthy with water, mulch

Q: I took your advice and was patrolling my yard looking for early weeds starting to show up. I found a few and picked them, so that’s good! I did notice that several of the bulbs I’d planted last fall are starting to pop up! Is it too early for them to be waking up? – N.H., West Side

A: With the mild weather we’ve been experiencing for the last few weeks I’m sure the bulbs are thinking it’s time for them to start to grow. There isn’t much you can do to stop that process. Just be sure you are keeping the bulbs as healthy as possible so if it does get cold again they will survive.

To ensure their health, be sure you are watering the areas periodically. Remember, by keeping the soil a smidgen on the damp side that creates the insulation the bulbs rely upon. If you covered the area with a protective and decorative layer of mulch, don’t be in a big hurry to push it back away from the bulbs. Leave the mulch in place for a few more weeks. It too will help protect your plantings. You could poke about a bit to see if any of your bulbs have “heaved” themselves out of the soil and in turn bury them a bit deeper. An exposed bulb is an unhealthy bulb!

But that’s really all you can do for the time being. Offer water, keep the area snug against any really cold temperatures and hope for precipitation of some sort before winter ends.

Q: I didn’t plant any daffodils last year but really want some! Is it too late for me? – M.B., Albuquerque

A: I truly doubt that you’d be able to find any daffodil bulbs to plant this time of year, so in that respect, yes, you missed that boat. But there is good news for you as far as the next sailing. Soon you’ll be able to find pre-planted collections of bulbs, rooted out and starting to show bud and bloom. I’ve not been out and about to see what is going on and available at our local nurseries and garden centers yet this year but I know the pre-planted will be here soon.

It is a smidgen early in the year, and I don’t want you to get too far ahead of yourself, but, yes, soon you’ll be able to get daffodils to cure your desires. You’ll be able to find plantings of all manner of additional spring bloomers such as hyacinths and tulips, too. Meanwhile, write a note on your calendar, in September, to remind yourself about planting more spring blooming treasures. Happy Digging In.


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Need tips on growing your garden? Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send your garden-related questions to Digging In, Rio West, P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, NM 87103.