Keith Kridler, Texas

research on growth habitats

February 10, 2009
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Categories: Bulb Information, Growing Daffodils, Soil

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One of the reasons that I sent the photos of the veggies with the various types of mulch the other day is to show it would be relatively simple to do some of this same type research with our beloved daffodils.
There are Master Gardener groups around the world I believe and it would be fairly simple to come up with test parameters on various subjects that affect the growth or multiplication of daffodil bulbs or even the size of the bulbs.
You could not just grow them in the ground though as soil types vary. I was thinking about using the 275 or 330 gallon commercial containers that they transport liquids in as these come on standard sized steel pallets to fit inside trucks.
You could cut these into two halves and have a 42″ X48″ container that is about 18″ deep (107 CM X122 CM X 61 CM). These would offer plenty of root growing area so that you could put in 6 or 7 rows of different varieties of daffodils in each tub or rows of different families of daffodils for various testing of soils, fertilizers, mulches, sun/shade requirements. Various ways to test how much water and when they need it. With digital photography you could document this from one year to the next.
The nice thing about these square containers is that they would stack tight against one another so that cold or heat would not get around the sides of these containers as it would with round types of landscape buckets.
It would be a simple matter to dead head the seed pods in one tub, leave the seed pods ripen in another of identical plant varieties and then cut the show blooms in a third tub while in a fourth you would jerk the stem up and out of the center of the bulb.
(A supposed onion/garlic expert talked with our MG group and said that each scale of the bulb of the onion had it’s own leaf. The more leaves the onion grew the more scales it would have giving it a larger size. Each leaf ONLY fed one scale. IF you ripped off half of the leaves that these scales would dwindle in size. Is it possible that the old bloom stalk on a daffodil would help to produce starch for the whole bulb or will this help mainly to produce a bloom for next year.)
Soil or mulch could be piled up around these containers to keep them at ground level and thus mimic normal ground temperatures for the various areas. The raised soil around them would also hide the tubs except for the thin rims showing the outline of the various tubs. It would be easy to number these tubs for experiments. By using identical soils in all of them and by tracking the fertilizers you add you could do a soil test a couple of times a year to see what each row of test tubs contained.
We could control PH in these containers and also the various micro and macro nutrients in these. You could even go so far as to protect them from rainfall to track when the ideal timing and amount to water the bulbs for growth during fall/spring droughts.
Each year you could dig and replant each tub after weighing and counting the bulbs or you could do this after year two or year three to mimic a commercial rotation.
Soil temperatures and air temperatures could be tracked to see how this affects the plants blooming time and or bulb sizes.
Weather stations already track the amount of sunshine for various parts of the USA giving out daily warnings about skin cancer. Maybe daffodils can get too much sunshine! Do the individual daffodil leaves turn during the day to open up and catch more sun when they need it? Do they grow longer leaves than normal in shady locations to expose more leaf area to the sun to produce the same amount of food with less hours of sunshine?
I was thinking that a solid wood wall should be erected right down through the middle of the test rows. One running north south and one running east west. Then compare bloom times, bloom sizes, stem heights so that people would know whether or not to plant bulbs on certain sides of buildings in their landscape. No reason to leave the bulbs in the ground if they will NEVER bloom again.
Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas severe thunderstorms, damaging hail and high wind warnings for boats on area lakes predicted for the next three days. It MUST be daffodil bloom season:-))

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