In the past I built flat trays with 2″x4″ framing lumber sides with the 1/2″ (1.27 CM) mesh “hardware cloth” wire bottoms. It is a hot dipped galvanized zinc coated wire mesh.
Dump your bulbs in these trays and the dirt and small pieces of dried roots fall through them. Roll the bulbs around applying hand pressure to the bulbs forcing them gently down on the wire and this will cut most of the husks off of the dried bulbs.
Dried bulbs with green shoots are REALLY tender! you have to be careful not to break off these new leaves.
I actually use two high speed fans, one to blow the dirt and small pieces of trash that fall out through the bottom wire and then another fan that blows across the tops of the trays blowing away the larger husks.
A tray 24″ (.66M) wide by 36″ (1M) long is a good size and will hold five gallons of bulbs at a time. There is a LOT of dust, dirt and various mold spores in dried daffodil husks!!!! Protect your lungs!!!
I have robbed fans out of whole house heating and cooling systems and these “squirrel” cage fans may have 2 or 3 speed fan motors. You want a fan with enough force to actually blow all of the totally dried up bulbs to one end of the tray.
Jonquils and bulbocodiums need wire mesh bottoms that are 1/4″ square or .63 cm to keep the smaller bulbs from falling through. One year seedlings from these will have bulblets that will fall through this and you need window screen to save them.
Our local earth worm guy built a large wire drum separator so that he can shovel all the contents of his worm beds into a motor driven rotating drum. Again he uses 1/2″ hardware cloth for the screen. It rotates just fast enough that the larger worms stay in the screen and roll out at the far end with all of the larger chips that were in the worm growing bins. All the worm eggs and small worms fall through the wire with his compost and go back into the growing bins or is sold as “worm castings”.
His tunnel separator is about 12 feet (4M) long of screen wire and 24″ (.66M) in diameter. He shovels the compost and casting in the “high” end of the tunnel and they work down hill only about 6″ (15 CM) by gravity. I thought you could adapt something like this for cleaning daffodils utilizing fans and air to keep the bulbs moving. Potato digging machines utilize a series of rods and vibrations to serrate the tubers from the soil.
I tried a portable concrete mixing machine for cleaning bulbs but you still need a fan to get rid of the loose dried bulb scales and holes to let the dirt get out…A clothes dryer probably COULD be made to clean bulbs by removing the door and cutting out the back of the machine and blowing air into one end of the tumbler! I would slow down the speed of the turning drum though. Keith Kridler