Cold and Snow and Daffodils

December 24, 2010
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Categories: Bulb Information, Growing Daffodils, Planting, Soil

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It’s not been announced officially but with the additional 5″ snow that fell last night (in my yard) I believe we’ve beat the old record and can now claim December 2010 the snowiest Dec ever in Minnesota.  The old record was 33″ +/-.  Fortunately it’s mostly been light and fluffy so relatively easy shoveling or blowing.  The mounds of snow pushed out of the streets are making driving a challenging proposition esp at intersections.  One creeps out past the stop sign hoping oncoming traffic will slow down when they see your front bumper of edging out from the snow and you’re reluctant to put forth with any speed until you’re halfway into the oncoming traffic lane and can see if anyone is barreling down the road towards you.   It’s even worse in Minneapolis proper (I live in a first ring suburb).  In town with lots of apartments and smaller houses/lot sizes there’s a lot of on-street parking be cause the apartment buildings and houses don’t have enough off-street garage or driveway parking space so with all this snow most roads are now down to a narrow one lane even with parking only allowed on one side of the street. Where I live, the plows are out during and immediately after it snows and are generally able to plow to the pavement so most roads are clear and smooth.  In town,  the main through streets usually get that kind of service but the side streets, the residential streets, might not get plowed for a day or three after the snow stops so ruts and bumps are more the norm.  I know the upper Michigan peninsula and Buffalo, New York get much more snow than we do plus many of the mountainous areas – not sure how they do it. 
Getting back to daffodils and surviving cold and snow.  Up here in the northern plains, we’ve discovered that the real secret to daffodils surviving our sustained low temperatures is planting the bulbs early enough in the fall and ensuring they receive enough moisture before the ground freezes.  We aim for planting by mid-October.  That 4-6 week window allows adequate roots to form which enables the bulb to create a sort of antifreeze within which keeps the bulb cells from bursting if and when they do freeze.   (Mike Berrigan or Edie Godfrey can give the more scientific description if anyone really wants it). I’m forever pushing the envelope and usually still planting daffs in early to mid November. I immediately, heavily mulch the new bed with up to a foot of oak leaves which forestalls the ground freezing even if it doesn’t snow for some weeks.  I checked the new bed this year two weeks a fter mulching because we had early cold before much snowfall and the temps were in single digits and low teens.  Not only was the soil not the least frozen but I found two earthworms that had come to the surface and were easily moving about.  I’ll have to try to remember to take the soil temperature next fall for a few weeks after planting and mulching to see how slowly or quickly it cools.  Thus, I suspect most of the NI bulbs will be fine, esp if the snow came first before the low temps though I agree with Derrick that the potted bulbs will be at more risk.
Well, enough procrastinating.  I still have to blow and dig out the driveway, esp the pile at the end left by the plow this morning, if I’m to get to my Christmas celebrations tonight.  Stay warm and  Merry Christmas to all! 
Kathy Julius
Golden Valley, Minnesota

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