More Daffodils and apple trees

October 15, 2010

Categories: Bulb Information, Growing Daffodils, Planting, Soil

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Thanks for your offerings Michael. I am somewhat concerned about the trees and bulbs getting along re: nutrient needs and cycles. Because controlling plant growth under the trees is not a real option for me, I’m really choosing between “natural” cover and a permanent planting of something. My primary use for the apples is cider (hard cider in American) and there it is often suggested that apples grown in low nitrogen situations make better cider… even to the extent that cider apples are purposefully grown in grass in the UK because the grass competes for the nitrogen… of course that is a much wetter (or consistently wetter) climate. Hopefully with no grass and low to no nitrogen inputs I’ll find a happy balance. No shortage of woodash and bones around here. And yes, so many apple trees produce tons of apples for many decades with no human nutritional or labor inputs at all. I will, however, keep the nitrogen issue in mind. Really though, these types of things can be speculated on all day with more weight given to this or that factor causing one to come to entirely different conclusions, but the proof is in the pudding (or the cider in this case). So, about the time my narcissus plantings are established I will hopefully have a good vintage of cider to crack open when you come to see the whole thing in “action” 🙂
The only reservations I have about your overall plan as described are  focused on the fact that fruit trees generally (in my experience)  require  a different feeding regimen to produce in both good quality and  quantity.  At Pine Grove I had mostly a few apple varieties (persimmons were > not really viable at that elevation — survived but did not prosper.  In order to get good quality apples with that soil, (which was pretty  much a rocky red clay, not the wonderful loam you describe), I had to  manure pretty heavily in the fall and winter on a regular basis, as  well  as fertilizing with a great quantity of wood ash. I had only a few  trees,  so was able to control codling moth with pheromone trapping of the  males. I also had to irrigate sometimes in the summer to get the kind  of fruit I wanted in size and texture (although certainly an abandoned  place across the road had some older apple trees that produced  on and off for years without any irrigation or attention at all for  the entire time we lived there.)

Bulbs, on the other hand, are displeased by manure (they do love > wood ash) and often respond by rotting in place. Likewise, almost any  nitrogenous fertilizer will encourage the sorts of organisms in your  soil that will eat your bulbs. Some are more resistant to this  problem  than others, but it’s kind of a crapshoot Until you find out which  ones.

What I finally ended up doing near the apples was leaving the tree  root zone  unplanted, controlling the inevitable weeds that came in with my  manure  with a couple of passes with a scuffle hoe early on before they had  a chance  to seed. Of course I only had a few trees.

One response to “More Daffodils and apple trees”

  1. Bill Welch says:

    In a message dated 10/15/10 12:17:48 PM,  title= writes:

    Thanks for your offerings Michael.  I am somewhat concerned about the 
    trees and bulbs getting along re: nutrient needs and cycles.

    Hello Steve,

    Tazettas thrive on high nitrogen–they do not rot–entirely different in this respect compared with regular daffodils.  The customary amount here on the plantings is 200#/acre of 41-0-0 slow-release urea. 

    The double you have is almost certainly the Double Chinese.  These, and the Single Chinese, have been grown in China for over a thousand years, and the traditional way to fertilize them was with liquid pig manure.  The old-time grower of daffodils in New Zealand from 100 years ago, Robert Gibson, reported how his interest in genus narcissus  started when he noticed how the tazettas in the garden thrived when he dug in some manure around them, you couldn’t kill them..So fear of manure is not relevant to the tazettas.  I had a customer tell me recently of her 3 foot tall Erlicheer over her sseptic tank.  Speaking of which, I also have a  report also of some very happy red amaryllis belladonna hybrids another customer got from me and had planted over her old rotted redwood septic tank (unbeknowst to her until the ground gave way while she was digging them up to divide and spread around the yard–yes her husband had to pull her out!!). 

    Golden Dawn responds very well to nitrogen–Keith Kridler has commented on that here on Daffnet in detail in the past, with photos to shows the improvements in growth with nitrogen supplementation.

    Cold was brought up as an issue with tazettas.  I suggest you check out the photo on my website of the double you already have to confirm it is DoubleChinese,  even If it is Constantiniple instead, that is so very closely related it makes no difference, these along with the single Chinese form are among the earliest and most tender of the tazettas so if the double grows fine for you then you can rest assured that any other tazettas will as well.

    The reason I did not recommnend Golden Dawn to you as much as the others was simply due to your wanting vareities that had heavy, broad foliage emerging early to compete with weeds–Golden Dawn being in part derived from Narcissus jonquilla so it has much narrower and very upright leaves, by comparison anyway, though they do indeed emerge earlier than the lateness of their bloom would imply. 

    Best wishes,

    Bill the Bulb Baron (William R.P. Welch)