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Forcing bulbs for spring

How would you like spring to come a month early? Grab a few bulbs, a pot, some potting soil and get forcing.

We asked bulb expert Brent Heath, of Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, to show us how to use bulbs in pots to get a jump on spring.

Here are the basic steps:

1. Use a plastic pot, it will withstand freezing temperatures outside. The pot must drain freely. When it is time to bring the pot indoors, place it in a larger decorative container.

2. Miniature daffodils or small bulbs like muscari or crocuses will fit in a small six- to eight-inch diameter pot, but use a larger pot for regular daffodils or tulips. Count on 10 bulbs in an eight- to 10-inch pot. Heath demonstrates how to use different bulbs in layers.

3. After planting, water the pot well to start root growth.

4. Store the pot in an evenly cool environment until mid-February — against a north wall and insulated with leaves or mulch; in a foam cooler in an unheated outbuilding or apartment balcony; or in a refrigerator, not a freezer. The fridge must not contain fruit, whose ethylene gas will mess up the bulbs. Give the pot a cupful of water every two weeks.

5. After 12 weeks, bring it indoors to initiate top growth. The blooms will need bright light to prevent stem stretching. Heath recommends using fluorescent lights until the buds are ready to open.

6. Use early season daffodils such as February Gold, Jetfire or Tete-a-Tete or tulip varieties classed as Single Early, Single Double or Triumph.

—Adrian Higgins

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