Hundreds and Thousands and Millions of Sprouts

Well, not quite that many, but dozens, anyway.

We have a big rectangular garden bed with rounded ends, built up with a brick wall to make it level on a slight incline, that’s perfect for veggies. We call it the oval garden, which isn’t quite satisfactory, since it’s not oval, but of course neither is it rectangular. Anyway. This garden was planted with scattered dahlias when we moved in last spring, and there were maybe half a dozen tulips at the far end. I shifted the dahlias when they started to sprout late in the spring, interfering with my rows of peas. They were shrimpy and insignificant. I doubted they’d survive. However, they not only survived, they thrived, producing vividly colored flowers until frost killed them off in the fall. I loved them — but there were far too many of them for the veggie patch. So I determined to shift them, and the tulips.

Obviously this should have been done in the fall, as soon as the foliage died off. But the ground froze before I got to them…and then the holidays were all-consuming…and I just didn’t get to it. So last week I decided to tackle the job at last, hoping I wasn’t too late.

Three tulip sprouts had popped up already. Not too bad, I thought. There were only about half a dozen last year. A little digging, and I’ll have them all out in no time. Ha. Hahaha. Little did I know that tulips multiply! There were DOZENS of the things lurking under the soil, all with yellow-green baby sprouts. I dug…and dug…and dug. Forkful after forkful of bulbs, from barely visible babies to great big fat ones. I filled half of our little red wagon with them. Here are a few pictures of the process: [I have placed pictures here six times now. Each time, in the previewed or published post, they appear at the top of the page instead. I give up. They look prettier there, anyway. Maybe tomorrow it will reset and they’ll remember where they’re supposed to be.]

I replanted as many as I could that afternoon before dark, burying them under trees and in beds all along our winding driveway. I have no idea if this was the correct solution, but since they’d already sprouted underground, putting them back into the ground seemed logical. Then I gave two dozen more to a friend. And then I spent an hour or so the next day planting even more of the things, with Niko’s help. So. Very. Many. (Yes, he’s wearing shorts. And orange-on-orange. How could I deny his need to be a pumpkin that day?)

While I was planting out the tulips, I got distracted by weeds. My ADHD took over, and before I knew it I’d weeded a whole bed while the last six bulbs waited to be planted. And then I was distracted from my distraction by these lovely blooms that my weeding uncovered:

And by these shoots — young rhubarb! Exciting!

Baby rhubarb in January, thriving under leaf mulch and burlap.
Baby rhubarb in January, thriving under leaf mulch and burlap.

Then I tackled the dahlias. These should be easy, I thought. They were so small last spring. Easy peasy. WRONG. They multiply, too! The tubers were monstrous, many-bulbed things, with each bulging root system easily eight inches across. I got as much dirt off as possible, and lay them on paper in a big feed bucket the size of a small pond. (Seriously, you could feed a whole herd of horses from that thing.) I’ll divide and plant those monsters when the frost danger is past…and no doubt I’ll have some to give away, too.

One final tidbit: Sofia sound asleep after an exhausting afternoon of riding on my back while I dug things up and buried other things.

Sound asleep. Relaxing on Mom's back is exhausting!
Sound asleep. Relaxing on Mom’s back is exhausting!

Next project: a long raised bed of overcrowded gladioli to dig up, divide, replant, and (of course) share with friends. Should be easy, right?