Hill Country Living
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It’s a Wagner Week and here we have a 1940s typed-out instructional about one lady’s experience with tulip bulbs. This is so thorough and involved that I will never look at another tulip the same way again. Apparently growing a tulip is like raising a child! No more lackadaisical tulip appreciation from me. I had no idea that tulip cultivation involved fire. Y’all better appreciate these garden clubs we have in town.
Experience and Care and Culture of Tulips
By: Mr. Luther R. McSwain
My experience with tulips is first I spade and break my soil then I pulverize the soil up fine. I make my beds higher in the center and level the sides so as to give drain. I work some high-grade lime in the soil then I lay off small furrows or rows about six inches apart and four inches deep. I usually lay the rows crossways the bed. If large bulbs I plant around six inches apart in the row, if smaller bulbs I plant closer. This I cover with soil which comes out of the furrows. Then I level again and level off the bed back to the shape it was before the bulbs were planted. On top of the beds after the bulbs are planted and covered with dirt and leveled, I put around an inch of stable manure. It makes a good mulch which holds moisture and keeps the ground cool in the spring and will force a better bloom.
Also, the mulch keeps down weeds and saves work. Just let the mulch stay on the beds as the tulips come up with a sharp stem which will come through the mulch. After the tulips come up in the spring we spray them with a mixture of lime sulphur and bluestone, a weak acid spray. When the tulips are about through blooming cut the seed pods off also, pick up the pedals off the ground and burn to keep down disease. Blooms falling on the ground gets the soil infected. By butting the seed pods off you will have better and larger bulbs. When the tulip foliage begins to turn red and wilt and die, we take the bulb and store in a dry place, not in a basement. We usually take the bulb up in June. After they are thoroughly dry we separate the large bulbs from the leaflet bulbs. They should be kept from mice as they will eat them. Bulbs should be spread out thin, if packed thick they will mold. Bulbs should be kept in a dry, shady place all summer, not too many in one place.
The time to plant tulip bulbs are during October, November and December. Tulip bulbs should be covered thee or four inches deep, covered with soil and mulch on top, total depth of the bulb planted around six inches deep.
What I have written you is my personal experience and we have had good luck in raising bulbs and have nice, large blooms.
Next, I will send you my experience with gladioli and dahlias, just which ever you wish me to take next. Please let me know and I will send those to you in time for your next meeting.