Forcing bulbs

Every day that I'm home that's not rainy, we head out to the yard for an hour or two. The kids tie their bikes together with skipping ropes and I putter in the garden. There are few things that I enjoy more than moving dirt and rocks around while the kids play, squirrels chatter and boats drone up and down the Arm. But it's almost December, and I know our days are numbered.

When I picked up a few hundred bulbs last week, I decided to get some hyacinths and paperwhites (white daffodils) to force indoors this year. The idea of tricking bulbs into thinking it was time to bloom captivated the kids.

For the paperwhites, we put some pebbles in the bottom of a glass (with much analysis of the merits of each stone as it was carefully placed by little fingers), set the bulb on the rocks and added water until it was just touching the bottom of the bulb.

That was Thursday night. On Saturday morning Saskia and Leif literally screamed with excitement when they noticed the hundreds of little roots budding from each bulb. I have to admit, I was pretty impressed myself. And at a dollar a pop, this is the most affordable fun we've had in a while.

For the hyacinths, we set the bulbs in hyacinth glasses, added water, and set them in a dark cupboard in the cellar. They need an eight to ten week chilling period before they can come upstairs to bloom. I'm limiting check-ins on those ones to once a week. 

I do find the term 'forcing' bulbs a little off-putting. It sounds so unnatural. And when I read that a forced bulb will not usually bloom again because of the tremendous amount of energy required, I felt a little pang of guilt.

Hopefully that will abate when I have a windowsill full of narcissi blooming in December.

For more information, HGTV has a good article on forcing bulbs.