Monday, February 20, 2012

Family Gardening with Kids - Planting Tulips is Educational, Easier Than You Think and Fun Too


Just a few weeks ago the world-famous Ground Hog in Punxsutawney predicted six more weeks of winter. Spring may still be officially a month away on the calendar. But, if what's going on in my garden right now is any indication, this might be the first time ever that reliable furry fellow is wrong. Granted I do live and garden in Southern California -- which has a warmer climate than some other areas of the U.S.  However, it is still a little early, even here a few miles from the beach, for tulips to start sprouting like the ones my kids and I planted last fall.

In Amsterdam, Holland living my dream of seeing tulips in spring

Tulips. They evoke such fond memories for me. As a Baby Boomer growing up on the East Coast I remember my own mommy planting a variety of bulbs, mostly tulips, along the front yard wall in fall. 

After a winter that usually included a lot of snow, it never seemed to amaze me -- despite enduring months of being frozen underground -- how these tulips would burst forth almost magically from the earth once the ground thawed, usually in March. 

From late April and into May and early June, mom's beautiful tulips were in full bloom. So my mother would cut colorful bouquets of homegrown tulips for me and my brother and sister to hand carry when we walked to school to give to our teachers.

Last fall, getting ready to plant tulip bulbs at home
As a mom with a family of my own many years later I have enjoyed gardening as a hobby for years both now that I have kids and before I became a mother. Gardening with your children certainly has got to be among the most educational and bonding experiences that parents and their offspring can reap mutual benefits from. 

Yet, all these years I'd never tried planting tulips primarily for two reasons. First, the thought of growing a flower from a bulb, rather than from seed or a plant, kind of seemed daunting to me. Second, I never dreamed that tulips would do well where I live now on the West Coast. 

I didn't realize it at the time. But, when Lowe's home improvement store chain, an exhibitor at BlogHer 2011, gave me some tulip bulbs in cute little burlap bags it reignited my childhood fascination and love affair with these fantastical spring blooming flowers. Not only can you buy everything to garden at Lowe's but they have a huge amount of resources and how to articles on their website including this one describing how to plant spring blooming bulbs.

Planting tulips: Here's a bulb right-side up in 6" hole
Planting tulips isn't as scary as you think I found out. It's simply a matter of digging individual holes for each bulb about 6 inches deep in fall before really cold weather arrives. Then, after you place each bulb in its hole with the end that has a slight point facing upward, you refill each hole with a mixture of soil and composted material to cover the bulbs. We did all that in September.

I've watered right after the bulbs were in the ground as well as a few times after that plus it rained periodically. Then, I promptly forgot about them. Imagine our family's glee five months after planting those tulip bulbs, when one of my kids discovered last week that those bulbs were all actually beginning to sprout. It was both an exciting and wonderous moment of discovery just like I recall from my early elementary school years many decades ago.

My tulips are now sprouting, breaking the soil right now
Just beginning to pop out of the dirt right now. That's where the tulips in my garden are at the moment. As the leaves begin to grow upward and begin to form blossoms that will eventually open I plan to photograph and document their growth on this blog. 

I invite you to join me for this journey as to watch as these seemingly lifeless bulb hopefully morph into a beautiful floral display in my yard.

Hope my tulips grow to be as pretty as these from the Farmer's Market
Did you garden as a child and/or do you enjoy gardening with your own kids? Have you ever tried growing tulips? If yes, please share some of your own experiences with them. If no, do you think you might try planting some bulbs yourself after reading this post?

FTC Disclosure: As mentioned in this post I received some tulip bulbs from Lowe's to facilitate this review. However, MommyBlogExpert did not receive any payment or other compensation associated with this post. See complete FTC Disclosure information that appears at the bottom of MommyBlogExpert's main page and at the bottom of every individual post on this blog, including this one. 

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