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The Online Magazine FOR and ABOUT Southside Virginia







Jan '09 Contents

Jan '09 Cover


Family in Six-Part Harmony
By Gert Slabach

Convergence Art Guild
(Grand Opening Show)
By Ed Wilborne

Meet the Brown Brothers
By Michael Ray



South Winds
(New & Improved)

On The Funside
(A Christmas Miracle in Rocky Mount?)
By Amy Hanek

Southside Gardener
(Forcing Bulbs)
By William H. McCaleb

Ask Bubba - Advice
Bubba New Year


Editor's Page
(Sausage & Politics)

V & B Comics
(Verrnack & Blupirk - New Year)

Festivals & Events

Past Issues

Past Issues are available from June 2008 through the current issue.
Select the desired issue from the drop-down box below.



Southside Gardener

 Contributed By William H. McCaleb

 Master Gardener Coordinator
 Virginia Cooperative Extension

The Basics of Forcing Bulbs


There is no need for anyone, gardener or not, to suffer through winter with only barren landscapes and colorless views. Not when there are little horticultural bundles of magic we call bulbs just waiting to push their heads through the soil and make their cheery debut. And, as Katherine Whiteside writes in the introduction of her book, Forcing, Etc., ��anyone with a window and a wish can garden indoors.�


Forcing bulbs indoors for a wintertime splash of color is easy to do and need not be expensive. Here�s how to get started:


1) Select the biggest bulbs of hyacinths, tulips, daffodils, crocus, muscari, or scilla.


2) Find a container with drainage holes that is slightly wider than all the bulbs arranged together and two to three times as deep as the largest bulb, but not deeper than a foot, nor shallower than 4 inches.


3) Fill the pot about halfway with well-draining soil.


4) Arrange the bulbs on the soil (flat, broad base down and pointy end up). They can be almost touching. Turn tulip bulbs so their flat side faces the pot.


5) Cover with soil so the bulbs� tips just disappear under the soil. Water well.


6) Place container in a cool, dark area at about 48 degrees for at least 12 weeks. A refrigerator will work as long as you do not store fruit in it at the same time. Do not overwater but maintain a slightly moist soil. Keep in mind that the bulbs need to be planted before chilling to allow for root growth.


7) When 12 weeks are up, your pot should be full of roots and show some growth above the soil. You can now place the container in a bright window and maintain watering. Most bulbs will bloom within three to four weeks.

- Written by Master Gardener Brenda McDannald  


Saving Forced Bulbs


Paperwhites, tulips and hyacinths that have been forced indoors don�t usually rebloom the next year even if planted outdoors. If you have forced bulbs that you would like to try to save, cut off the flower stalk and keep the bulb watered and fertilized. Keep the bulbs in a sunny window until danger of frost has passed, then plant them in the flowerbed. You will probably see only foliage for the first two or three years while the bulb builds itself up enough to flower again.

Here is a quote that you may have seen before:  �All my hurts, my garden spade can heal.�  - Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Give Houseplants a Rest - Some houseplants, especially cactus and succulents, need a rest in winter. Cut back on the amount of water you give them, allowing the soil to become dry between watering, and withhold fertilizer. After they�ve been allowed to rest, your plants will be healthier and blooming plants will bloom more freely in the spring.
  • Chill Wildflower Seeds � Many wildflower seeds need a chilling period to germinate. Place them in a glass jar in the refrigerator now so they�ll be ready to plant in six weeks or so. 
  • Plant Labels � Don�t discard those plastic knives you receive with fast food. They make great plant labels for your garden. Use a waterproof marker to write the plant�s name on the handle, and then slip the cutting end into the ground.
  • Christmas Cactus Cuttings � Christmas cactus is easy to start from cutting. Break off a section with 4-5 joints and insert the broken end into a pot of moist potting soil. For best results, create a mini greenhouse by placing a plastic bag over the pot and securing it with a rubber band. The plastic bag shouldn�t touch the plant and, if necessary, you can insert sticks in the soil to hold the bag away from the plant.





William H. McCaleb
Program Assistant, ANR
Master Gardener Coordinator
Virginia Cooperative Extension
171 S. Main Street
P.O. Box 757
Halifax, VA 24558-0757
fax: 434-476-7777



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