, Salem, MA


October 25, 2013

North Shore Gardener: Dig up and save bulbs after frost kills foliage


A: Using black plastic to kill weeds will depend on sun exposure and air temperature, but I doubt that you can do it in two weeks. Many gardeners leave the plastic on over the winter. I hope you watered the area well before spreading the black plastic over the area. If not, pull the plastic back and water the ground now. Peeking under the plastic will also give you some idea as to how fast it’s working.

As the ground heats up, you will also be killing many of the weed seeds in the ground. Remember that now that the nights are getting colder, the area cools down each night and has to reheat each morning, so the colder it gets, the longer it’s going to take.

Tell your hubby that the more weeds and seeds he kills now, the fewer weeds he’ll have to dig and remove next season when he finally removes the plastic and begins cultivating and planting the area.

Q: This year, I promised myself that I would take the time to plant some spring bulbs, but I need some help — that is, information — because I’ve never done it, except for an old pot of tulip bulbs that I received for Easter, which I planted last year and only leaves came up. Can you help?

A: Start with the bulbs. Size counts when buying bulbs, particularly when you’re you buying bulbs by mail order. It pays to know the size of the bulbs you’re buying. Buy the biggest bulbs you can — bigger IS better. When you handle a bulb, compare it to buying an onion at the grocery store. Check for firmness and weight. There should be no soft spots or mildew. Even if the bulbs are packaged in bulk, in plastic or mesh bags, inspect them carefully. A small green sprout won’t hurt, but avoid buying packages that contain bulbs that look like they’re already growing and trying to escape.

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