Autumn is the best season to prepare our gardens for spring beauty. Flowering of annuals and perennials is now completing its tenure and time to prepare our gardens for spring is prerequisite. Garden lovers like to see aesthetically and recreationally healthy gardens post winter. Whether it is a flowering of bulbous crops like Tulip, Hyacinth, Dutch Iris, Ranunculus, Freesia, Fritillaria, Oxalis, Muskari, Anemones, Daffodils, Allium, Crocus, Chinodoxa, Sparaxix or winter annual like Pansy, California poppy, Verbena, all add charming beauty to gardens and bestow us with satisfaction of heart, soul and peace.
November is the last hope of planting for spring flowering if we want to charm our gardens. Nature has bestowed us with a diversity of floral wealth and at the end of the day science helps us how, when and where to use it. In this context this is the right season to plant winter season annual and bulbous crops in Kashmir for our gardens.
Preparation for planting
· Scientific way of soil preparation plays a key role in proper growth and development of plants which in turn fulfills our objective of charming flowering.
· Use of manures and fertilizers for soil moisture and nutrient retention.
· Irrigation management.
· Use of growth regulators.
· Disease management.
· Insect management.
· Weed management.
· Nutritional management.
· Crop management.
Bulbs for our gardens
Tulip, Hyacinth, Dutch Iris, Ranunculus, Freesia, Fritillaria, Oxalis, Muskari, Anemones, Daffodils, Allium, Crocus, Chinodoxa, Sparaxix are important bulbous crops planted in this season.
In Tulips thousands of varieties are available in Standard, Parrot, Fringed, Rembrandt, Fosteriana, Triumph, Darwin hybrids, Kaufmanniana, Viridiflora, Double, Lily flowering, Single late and some varieties like Banja Luka, Parade, Triple A, Organe Emperor, Nigeta, Alectric, Angelique, Apeldoorn, Apricot Impression, Atilla Graffity, Avant Garde, Candela, Orange Brilliant, White Flag etc., are now a days popular in market.
In Hyacinth, Hyacinth blue giant, Hyacinth blue purple, Hyacinth fondant, Hyacinth pink pearl, Allaudin, Jan Bose are some popular varieties.
Winter Annuals for Gardens
· California poppy grows 24-45 cm in height and acts as a bedding plant having varied shades of Orange and light-yellow flowering from March-May and loves sunny locations.
· Corn flower grows 50-90 cm having white, pink, rose, blue, purple, crimson shades flowering in May-June and suitable for back row plant in herbaceous border in sunny and partial shade.
· Sweet sultan grows 45-60 cm in height having white, pink, rose, blue, purple, crimson shades flowering in May-June suited in sunny and partial shade.
· Satin flower/ farewell to spring grows 25-100 cm having red, white, pink and lilac shades flowering in Spring/summer season suited for sun and partial shade.
· Pot marigold known as Calendula grows 30-60 cm in height having yellow or orange flowering in March-May.
· Straw flower grows 60-90 cm in height having white, yellow, salmon, crimson, scarlet shades and flowering duration from May-October.
· Candytuft grows 20-40 cm in height having purple, lilac and white shades flowering in April-May boarding suitable for edging and rockery.
· Pansy grows 20-40 cm in height having lilac, scarlet, purple shades flowering during March-May suited for bedding & rockery.
· Lupin grows 20-100 cm in height having flowering during Spring-summer.
· Verbena grows 20-40 cm in height having purple, white, red, blue shades and flowering during March-May suited for Rockery.
· Foxglove grows 100 cm in height having purple, white, cream, yellow and lavender shades and flowering during spring-summer.
· Oyster plant/ bear’s breeches grow 150 cm in height having purple, white, mauve, grey shades and flowering during spring-summer.
· Common globe flowers grow in 30-70 cm, having yellow flowering during spring-summer is suited for sunny and partial shade.
· Sweet pea 100-150 cm (climber) having white, pink, crimson, pale, blue purple and flowering from May-Sept.
Plants grow best in soils of optimum fertility and scientific preparation of land is to raise the fertility of the soil. It is generally agreed that high soil fertility should be maintained. Soil is tilled to a depth of 12 to 15 inches. Well-drained soil is prerequisite for proper growth and development as it helps to avoid bulb rotting or seedling loss due to pathogen infection and asphyxiation.
Therefore, planting in raised beds particularly under wet areas is preferred and recommended. Soil should be made light and airy by adding compost and coarse sand. Depth of bulb planting depending upon a particular crop. Thumb rule is to plant bulbs 3 times the size below soil. Deep planting is done in areas with mild winters which helps to keep bulbs cooler. In case of bulbs or seedlings, ensure proper planting density, go for row plantation wherever necessary. Optimum irrigation after planting is a prerequisite for developing the root system.
Placement of Bulb
Bulbs are set firmly in place with the pointed end facing upwards. The hole should be flat at the bottom so that the flat base of the bulb is in contact with the ground. The bulbs are then covered with soil and watered thoroughly. Moisture is necessary for the bulbs to take root before winter. However, do not keep the soil soggy or the bulbs will rot. After the ground freezes, apply about a six-inch mulch of clean straw or leaves. Do not cover the bulbs before the ground freezes. The wet mulch could cause the bulbs to rot, and the mulch could also delay the freezing of the ground.
Subsequent cultivation practices
It includes weeding, fertigation and pest management. These practices are carried out during subsequent growth phases after bulb planting.
Calendar of operations for November
A) Cut flowers: Rose, Gerbera and carnation. Regular weeding, application of proper fertilizer doses, irrigation, right method of harvesting and post-harvest management.
B) Winter annuals: Transplanting of winter season seedlings - Pansy, Phlox, Antirrhinum etc.
C) Shrubs/ Edges: Hedges/edges should be trimmed regularly.
D) Bulbous crops:
Planting Tulip, Hyacinth, Dutch Iris, Ranunculus, Freesia, Fritillaria, Oxalis, Muskari, Anemones, Daffodils, Allium, Crocus, Chionodoxa, Sparaxis etc.
Ø Harvesting of Lilium and Gladiolus after the foliage is dry.
Ø Care to be taken to avoid any injury.
Ø Screening of bulbs/corms before storage.
Ø Shade drying and treatment with fungicides @0.2%.
Ø Lilium to be stored in coca peat to avoid moisture loss.
Ø Gladiolus to be stored in well ventilated moisture free conditions.
E) Ploy houses Management: Vents of polyhouse need to be closed so as to ensure proper temperature.
F) Pot plants/indoor plants: Indooring of pot plants and management of light, irrigation and pests.
G) Turf grasses: Sowing of seeds of raising cool season turf lawn grasses like Lolium, Fescue etc.