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Starting Bulbs

What to do with that turnip-looking thing at the nursery

Forget the stock market! For an investment that provides great returns, it's hard to beat the planting of bulbs. Winter's a little more bearable knowing that the crocuses and daffodils that were planted at the first hint of cold are patiently waiting to explode into spring colors.

While it is possible to "force" bulbs to flower during the winter, allowing them to bloom outside at their traditional time is the easiest way to go. Fill a container partially full of soil that will provide for good drainage. A good rule of thumb in planting bulbs is that they should be buried 2-3 times their height. Hence, larger bulbs will be planted deeper than small ones, and you can even plant them in layers, small atop large with the layers separated by dirt. Bone meal or bulb food can be sprinkled around the bulbs to help them mature, and bulbs should be kept from touching each other. Water thoroughly, and keep soil moist unless it freezes.

After your spring floral display has passed, feel free to clean up the dead flowers and stalks, but leave the foliage. The bulb needs the green leaves to store up energy to bloom next year!