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  • Writer's pictureJulia Watson

End of Year Work for Garden or Farm

If you want tulips, you have to start long before spring.

Whether you grow in a home garden or a flower farm, there’s always work to be done. Here at Tiny Footprint Flowers, our bouquet year is over, but November and December are busy because we’re planting our early spring flowers. If you garden in Northern California, you can plan your home garden the way we plan our tiny flower farm: tulips, daffodils, poppies and other spring annuals all go in the ground before the end of the year. For a beautiful spring garden, take our list as a guide.

Chill tulip bulbs. You knew about this, didn’t you? Tulip bulbs need to be chilled before planting in our California climate (see other posts here and here). Plan on 8-12 weeks in the refrigerator, not the freezer.

Plant sweet pea seeds. Some gardeners start these earlier in the fall, but I have good luck planting seeds in November or December. More about these here and here. Don’t forget the Sluggo! Snails LOVE sweet pea seedlings.

Pre-sprout and plant ranunculus. Home gardeners rarely pre-sprout their corms, but it’s not difficult and will give you better results. More about that here. Ours are pre-sprouting as I’m writing this, and they’ll get planted when the roots develop.

Plant daffodils. They can go in the ground now for early spring bloom. Good varieties for Northern California are Ice Follies, Avalanche, Brackenhurst and Thalia. More about those here.

daffodils, yellow and orange
Daffodil 'Brackenhurst'

Plant tulips (after chilling) and other spring bulbs. For Northern California, it’s best to get tulips in the ground in December. If you like hyacinth, allium, crocus or muscari, plant those too. Allium ‘Schubertii’ is especially nice, with its starburst blooms.

tulip bulbs
Yes, tulip bulbs can be planted tight!

Plant poppies, snapdragons and other spring annuals. We buy these as “plugs” (tiny seedlings) in trays of 125. You can plant nursery 6-packs now, or in January, but giving them an early start will mean better flowers, so don’t wait until April.

seedlings in tray
Plugs (seedlings) ready to be planted

Plant larkspur seeds. Not too many home gardeners grow it, but larkspur is a wonderful annual. Poisonous to dogs, so you need to think about that. I didn’t know that when I planted larkspur in our front yard parking strip for our first year of Tiny Footprint Flowers. When I read that it was poisonous, I nearly yanked it out, but I never saw dogs remotely interested in it. Now I grow it only in our back areas where dogs are not allowed.

After all those chores are done, you can put your feet up and relax. As I’ve said before in this blog, gardeners need some time off in winter!

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