Tulip Bulbs Using No Dig

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Don Foley 1 year, 9 months ago.

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    Hello! I’m new to the idea of no dig, and I’m very interested! I am in the midst of creating beds for cut flowers, including bulbs. Typically, most growers would dig down about 6 inches, place bulbs and any amendments, and then cover back up with soil and then compost. How would I go about this process using no dig? would I simply place the bulbs at ground level and then layer on 6 inches of compost (which can be quite costly for one who needs to purchase compost)? Looking forward to responses as I’m having a hard time finding fellow flower growers who use no dig.

    Thanks! Amy Williams, aspiring organic flower farmer : )



    Amy, nice to hear from you, and good timing.
    I was just advising Organic Blooms on no dig, here is their blog about where they want to go with it.
    An exciting project and Jo Wright is the person to contact.
    No dig does not men you cannot make planting holes!
    Just don’t disturb soil unnecessarily.
    Use a trowel as normal, into undisturbed soil and the compost mulch, however thick or thin, is on top.
    That is it.
    Many flower growers are using no dig, check on Twitter.



    Charles, thank you so much for your response and advice. I am incredibly fascinated by the no dig process and results and I very much appreciate your efforts in sharing your knowledge! Thank you for the blog link, I will definitely look into it!


    Don Foley

    Hi Amy,

    I’ve just put in 250 Narcissus Pseudonarcissus Obvallaris and 100 Crocus along the back of a 30′ No-Dig Herbaceous Border.
    For the Narcissus I dug short trenches about 18″ long and 8″ deep. I lined these with 1-2″ of grit and pushed the Bulbs into the grit and then back filled. The Crocus where done in similar fashion but not quiet so deep, around 6″ in fact.
    I did it this way as I intend these plantings to be permanent and therefore I’m unlikely to be disturbing these areas again (at least not to that depth).
    Whilst this is technically “digging” the important point which Charles makes is to not disturb the soil unnecessarily.
    Bulbs such as Tulips and Narcissus need to be planted deeply so soil disturbance is unavoidable in this instance.
    I have planted Crocus in the past by simply lightly pushing into the soil surface and covering with a 2″ layer of compost on top. But these would not have been intended as permanent plantings. Over the course of 6-8 months that 2″ layer of compost disappears leaving the Corms exposed on the surface making them easy to harvest for replanting. This system works really well around established Trees where the soil can be really difficult if not impossible to dig.
    I started doing no-dig with my vegetables and over time went to no-dig with shrubs and flowers and I find it extremely successful.



    Nice comment and just to add Don in case others think it’s necessary to add grit, I never have and do not recommend it


    Don Foley

    Hi Charles,
    Drainage in parts of my site is not good unfortunately so adding grit is essential, unfortunately. I should have made reference to that fact when I mentioned using grit.
    Drainage in my vegetable raised beds is fine but in the Herbaceous Borders it needs help. Its improving year on year in part by using no dig no doubt. Our summers here in Ireland are getting wetter and wetter so I want to be sure the areas where my bulbs are planted get the best chance to drain so the bulbs aren’t sitting in really wet soil for months when they may rot.

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