When I posted the above image on Facebook yesterday, the reaction (such as it was) pretty much amounted to “huh?” If bulb sales are in trouble, the art of bulb forcing seems barely to exist outside of commercial flower growers and maybe people in other countries—though I’m not sure of that.
It doesn’t help that bulb forcing instructions are prone to wide variation and are apt to make vapid (and unrealistic) guarantees like “imagine your windowsills filled with an array of dazzling flowers!” You can chill the bulbs alone, chill them in their planting media, chill them for 2 weeks in the fridge or for 8 weeks in the fridge, move them right into the sun or move them gradually into the sun. I’m not that surprised that few gardeners bother with it; it does take planning and temperature conditions that aren’t always possible in contemporary homes with attached garages.
I don’t force dozens of hyacinths and tulips (plus a few muscari this year) because it’s easy or because I expect my windowsills to be filled with dazzling flowers. I like the ritual just as much—or more—than the results. It’s not particularly easy. And it might be cheaper to buy commercially forced flowers in the spring, given what I spend on bulbs, pots, and soil.
But I happen to have a root cellar, plus a cold attic I could likely use in a pinch. It gives me something to work on during the final months of fall, when there’s not too much happening in the garden. And I love the history of it, particularly all the vintage forcing vessels you can use (and here). It harks back to a time when fresh flowers weren’t that easy to come by if you didn’t have a greenhouse, and longform ways of doing things were the norm.
It’s not real simple, it’s just real. BTW, I think Old House Gardens can be trusted for some good instructions.Posted by Elizabeth Licata on October 28, 2013 at 8:15 am, in the category Shut Up and Dig.