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Tulips Tidbits July 2020 - All About Tulip Bulbs
Tulip Tidbits Feature imageWe are nearing the end of July, yet it feels like our summer weather has just begun. Though we may have had some days with sunshine, the temperature has been quite cool. The visual here on the farm is very different from that of our spring months. The garden is full of dahlias and zinnia with sprinkles of petunia, lilies, daisies, and a couple rows of roses. We may not have an abundance of these blooms like we do tulips and daffodils, but we do have enough to fill our garden and make it a beautiful walk through if you're looking for something to do this summer. Our gift shop is open and full of fun décor and dishware for both outside and in, along with fresh cut flowers and some of our first bulbs that can be purchased on the spot!

The bulbs that bring us the spring blooms are undergoing some of their most purposeful procedures right now. The last of the tulips have been harvested and are now undergoing the next steps so they can not only make it back to our fields and beautiful display garden, but right to your doorstep in the fall! We generally get two questions this time of year: what do we do on the farm with the bulbs after the blooms are finished and, what should you be doing at home? Grab your cup of coffee while you read on for a rundown on bulbs!

We like to say there are seven stages to a tulip bulbs life and you can check them out right here. You'll notice these stages all take place when a tulip bulb is planted in the ground. The processes listed below give us a closer look at what happens between stages 5-7, and take us beyond, to what happens when a tulip bulb is above the earth!              

· topped/deadheaded (green stem and leaves are left),
· harvesting (foliage turns brown, time to dig),
· processing (bulbs are separated and cleaned), and
· cure (drying the bulbs).

Topping the tulips is a must! When a tulip bloom hits the end of its life, the petals will start to fall off. If you've ever left your blooms in a vase for a little too long, the tiniest move or bump will cause their petals to drop off. Yes, they are often still at the height of their beauty when a petal or two may fall in the field or the garden, but the topping is critical for a couple of reasons. The first being so the wilted petals do not fall on the foliage of the flower. If this happens, they can rot and cause disease. All it takes is one unhealthy flower to infect hundreds of thousands of bulbs. The second reason, when the bloom is almost over, we want all the energy to go towards growing the bulb. If we leave the head on, it will take energy away from the bulb even if it is near the end of its bloom.

Tulip Tidbits Feature imageShould you top your tulips at home? YES! It is beneficial for you to top your tulips once you notice the first petal fall at home for the same reason we do it on the farm.

Harvesting takes place after the foliage of the tulip starts to brown. Green foliage means the bulb is still growing, but brown means it is complete. Once harvesting can begin, a bulb digging machine heads out to the fields lifting the bulbs two rows at a time from the ground. The bulbs are separated from the soil and fill a truck where they are then brought back to a warehouse. The bulbs in the garden are harvested by hand, just like they are planted.

Tulip Tidbits Feature imageDo I have to harvest my bulbs at home? In short, no. Do we recommend it, YES! Depending on where you live and what tulip varieties you have (i.e. Darwin Hybrid), there's a likelihood that they will come back without touching them at all. However, for best results, digging your bulbs will give you a better chance of them producing a beautiful bloom the following year.

Processing begins when our bulbs are taken to the warehouse after being dug from the fields and gardens. During this step, our bulbs are dried, cleaned and graded for quality and size. Often, we will run the bulbs through this step a couple times to ensure our customers receive the best of the best.

Tulip Tidbits Feature imageWhat does "processing" look like for me at home? It's actually quite simple! After you've lifted your bulbs from the ground, feel free to brush off the soil. You may notice that what was once one bulb, has now become multiple. We call these "bulbletts." Do not worry about separating these until you go on to plant them in the fall.

Curing - Finally, our bulbs are cured throughout the summer. We place the bulbs in large bins that allow air flow and good ventilation, so the moisture is taken out of them. Like many things, too much moisture can cause rot or mold, neither of which points to a healthy bulb. The bins also help to keep the bulbs out of direct sunlight. Oddly enough, bulbs, like people can get burned from too much sun exposure, and though we haven't tried it, we're pretty certain sunscreen wouldn't do the trick. Instead, we keep them shielded from sunlight altogether. 

Tulip Tidbits Feature imageHow should I store my bulbs at home? Use a container that allows air flow around your bulbs - a mesh bag, nylon, or grated tray. After you've placed your bulbs in their ventilated container or bag, leave them be in your garage, laundry room, or even basement until it's time to plant them in the fall.

You can see that the beauty in the spring is due to the preparation and care that is given the remainder of the year. For more tips and tricks make sure you continue to follow us and stay up to-date on our happenings via  Facebook and Instagram @Roozengaarde. We wish you all happy harvesting!
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RoozenGaarde / Tulips.com
15867 Beaver Marsh Rd., Mount Vernon, WA 98273
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