Pacific Northwest

June, 2007
Regional Report

Shows & Events

Lavender Festival
The 11th Annual Sequim Lavender Festival is slated for July 20, 21, and 22, where you can visit the eight beautiful Farms on Tour in the stunning Sequim-Dungeness Valley. Growers share their techniques for cultivating, drying, and using lavender, and visitors experience the perfume and beauty of this captivating herb. You can see (and purchase) dozens of varieties with colors and scents from sweet whites to crisp purples.

Emjoy more than 150 crafts and lavender booths, food, music, and more in downtown Sequim. Admission is free and there is free parking throughout downtown. For more info, visit: http://www.lavenderfestival.com.

Clever Gardening Technique

Dividing Daffodils
Daffodils proliferate amazingly well under good growing conditions. Overcrowding reduces their vigor, so if you cultivate daffodils, you will eventually have to dig and divide them. The time to divide is well after they flower but while there is enough foliage left so you know exactly where the bulbs are.

Daffodils ripen after flowering, storing starch in their bulbs to provide them with energy to grow next season. In addition, next year's flowers are starting to form. When this process is completed, the foliage yellows and pulls off easily. Don't tie up or braid the foliage as some people do, because the plant needs every bit of its leaf area exposed to the sun and the air in order to photosynthesize the food that it will store in the bulb.

The first step in dividing daffodils is to fertilize them immediately after they finish blooming. The bulb has a lot of work to do and will need food to do it. I like to use a granular fertilizer with a 0-20-20 formulation, but any mixture very low in nitrogen (the first number of the three) is suitable. I apply 1 tablespoon around each clump.

Once the leaves have completely yellowed, the bulbs are ready to dig. Be especially careful in digging your bulbs. If you indiscriminately thrust a spading fork into the ground, chances are it will emerge with what was once a beautiful, fat bulb impaled on its tines. If a bulb is cut in half or badly damaged, the best thing to do is throw it away. The best method of digging is to put the fork into the ground well outside the clump. Sink the fork to its full depth and then rock it gently back and forth until you see where the bulbs are.

Wash the dirt from the bulbs with a hose. Freeing them this way enables you to easily break apart the bulbs in the clump without too much damage to the roots, which are usually entwined. Examine the bulbs and discard any that feel soft or have any symptoms of disease or damage.

When the bulbs are clean, put each variety or cultivar into its own mesh bag. For this purpose, I save the mesh bags that onions, oranges, and potatoes come in at the supermarket. Write the name of each daffodil variety or cultivar on a plastic tag with indelible pen and place it in the corresponding bag.

Keep the bulbs in a cool, dry place until replanting time. You can replant the bulbs in their new spot immediately, but most growers agree that a period of rest is beneficial. In autumn, I prepare the soil for replanting. I dig as deeply as possible, sometimes as much as 12 inches, sifting the soil through a screen built to fit over the top of my wheelbarrow. I add 6 inches of rough compost to the bottom of the planting hole, plus 4- to 5 inches of specially prepared soil. The latter is composed of 1/3 garden soil (the sifted soil in the wheelbarrow), 1/3 sifted compost, and 1/3 vermiculite or coarse builder's sand. I prefer vermiculite, because it is light and easy to handle.

Most large daffodil bulbs should be planted about 8 inches deep. The very small bulbs of the miniatures and species should be planted more shallowly. A general rule of thumb is to make the planting depth equal to four times the circumference of the bulb.

Newly planted daffodils require some water. In my area, rainfall is usually adequate. If you live in a dry climate, or if you are experiencing a drought at planting time, give your daffodils 1 inch of water per week. Fertilize again when the green tips first appear in spring. I apply a tablespoon of 5-10-5 granular fertilizer around each clump or dig some dried manure into the top inch or two of soil. As spring progresses, my daffodils come into full flower and are stronger than ever.

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