Bulbs for the organic grower
If you’re looking to introduce some splashes of spring colour into your organic garden, the autumn months are the perfect time to plant spring and summer flowering bulbs. Bulbs such as narcissi and crocus can provide many years of colour, requiring little attention, and are often the first things to appear in the garden each year - heralding the welcome arrival of spring.
Sourcing organic bulbs
Although they are such a fantastic addition to any garden, historically it has been very difficult to get hold of organic bulbs – with just a small range available from a very limited number of sources. As such, they were often considered out of bounds for organic growers.
Thankfully that is now no longer the case. The Organic Gardening Catalogue has an ever-expanding collection of organic Ecobulbs. Allium, crocus, narcissus and tulips are all available, along with several different collections including a bees and butterflies collection and a fragrant collection.
Ecobulbs from The Organic Gardening Catalogue offer a number of benefits for organic growers:
- No Chemicals. 'Conventional' bulbs are grown using intensive applications of chemical fertilisers, artificial pest controls and fungicides. These bulbs are fully organic.
- Cut down your tractor miles! Growing these bulbs supports the land they are grown on and the people who work it.
- Better, longer lasting bulbs. Ecobulbs are not forced, but given time in optimum natural conditions which means they are harvested when they are ready and will stay in good condition to bloom for several years.
Like us, the bulb growers believe that it is possible to practice agriculture without the use of harmful substances and methods if the conditions created by nature are respected. The farm where they are grown covers 100 acres of land reclaimed from the sea in 1932, 2.5 metres below sea level in the north-west of the Netherlands.
Their farm was converted to biodynamic cultivation in the early 1980s and flower bulbs have been grown since 1993 alongside wheat, potatoes, vegetables and fodder crops. The organic cultivation of flower bulbs differs from conventional production, including growing flower bulbs in a 7 year rotation with other arable crops which prevents many plant diseases.
Bulbs are some of the easiest garden plants to grow, needing only a well-drained, humus-rich soil and some sunshine. If your soil type isn’t suitable, they make great additions to pots and planters by simply incorporating plenty of sharp grit into the growing media. As a rule of thumb, plant bulbs at a depth twice that of the size of the bulb.
We would recommend you avoid planting bulbs at the front of a bed or border. The dying foliage will be unsightly and it is vital that you allow the leaves to die back naturally for around six weeks after flowering, rather than cutting them off or tying them in knots.
Bulbs are normally planted when dormant. Only the very small bulbs such as snowdrops and winter aconites are best transplanted while in leaf, just after flowering, as they can easily dry out. If you have to plant them as dry bulbs, soak them for 24 hours in lukewarm water prior to planting. For spring displays, bulbs must be put into the ground in autumn, before the first frost.