If you have "no place to go," come here!

Planting bulbs and ripening tomatoes

I just got some tulips, some daffodils, and two pots of (tuberous) Iris.

Basically, I want them to bring life to one corner of the house.

I'm going to plant them in concentric semicircles: Tulips, which bloom in early spring, outermost, away from the house; then daffodils, in late spring, and last of all, nearest the house, the iris.

They'll get only partial sun, and where the soil is OK, but not excellent. Because they'll be near the side of the house, they'll get rain off the roof, but the drainage is good enough so they won't sit in standing water.

Any thoughts on this plan?

Like, how far apart should I plant the bulbs?

Also, I pulled all the tomatoes of the vines tonight, since it's getting near freezing, and I have a bunch of green ones. What's the best protocol for ripening them? The theory up here is to wrap them in newspaper, but I don't see how the theory works...

UPDATE This looks pretty good on the tomatoes. Looks like I should discard (?) the immature green ones, and let the rest ripen.

No votes yet


Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

We plant our tulips at about 10 inches and the daffodils right above them at about 6. that keeps the voles, moles, squirrels, etc. from eating the tulip bulbs. Then when they come up, the daffodils protect the tulips from the deer. You must have gotten late blooming daffs, because most of ours bloom before the tulips

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

It sounds like a good idea. I've done something similar, but I don't have any deer here on the near west side of Chicago.

Make sure you put those bulbs deep though. Where I am, I put them close, like 5-6 inches.

Submitted by lambert on

And if I do, civilization will have collapsed -- no traffic on major arteries and so forth, so by that time I probably will have dug the bulbs up and eaten them. Ha ha.

All these dimensions, are they horizontal or vertical? IOW, how deep should I plant them, and how far apart?

I like the idea of planting the daffodils on top of the tulips. I suppose the idea is one hole, a daffodil (early) then some earth, then a tulip (late). I may not have deer to worry about, but I do have squirrels and such, and also it's a space saver.

And the Iris are German iris (good for this climate). How are they with moisture?

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

FeralLiberal's picture
Submitted by FeralLiberal on

Sounds good Lambert. As the bulbs will be up before the trees leaf out (depending on where you are) they'll get good spring sun. 6-10" is good spacing, they will clump if happy. Plant 6" if you don't mind digging and replanting sooner, 10" will let you leave them in longer before they get crowded. Rule of thumb is to plant bulbs so that the bottom is 3x the height of the bulb from the surface.

If the irises are the horizontal rhizome type be sure not to plant too deep, just an inch of soil over the top is enough. Too deep and they won't bloom.

Tomatoes with just a hint of color will ripen. I spread newspaper on the shelves in my basement seed starting rack, spread the tomatoes on the shelves making sure they don't touch each other, and put a single layer of newspaper over the top of them. Check regularly and get rid of any showing signs of rot. I've had garden tomatoes until Christmas some years.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

heh. i don't think you're going to be eating some of your bulbs lb, unless you're trying to buy the farm, so to speak. ;-)

bulbs are often heavy feeders. a group of mine didn't perform this year, because the soil was poor and i didn't improve it in the fall. that's changed this year. composted material, fertilizer, manure, along with deep digging (up to 10" down) and plenty of loosening of the soil in which the bulb will eventually push out roots.

also, a light layer of manure on top, just below the topsoil, which is then sprinkled weekly with habenaro water, to keep the deer and squirrels off. some people press the bulbs in with their feet on the topsoil after first planting; i don't.

FeralLiberal's picture
Submitted by FeralLiberal on

I wouldn't plant the daffys and tulips in the same hole, the lower plant would have to push a stem up through the root zone of the upper plant, and it would make it harder to replant later.

Irises are fairly tolerant of dry soil, but will rot and/or not bloom if too wet. And be on the alert for signs of iris borer infestations, they can cause serious damage.

Ruth's picture
Submitted by Ruth on

I believe tulips are poisonous. And iris bloom from the newest tuber, so need to be taken up occasionally, the old growth thrown out and the new planted back into the ground. As Feral says, too, borers are nasty.


Submitted by lambert on

I think I'll move them away from the eves, then.

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Definitly build up the soil with compost and manure. Consider adding crocus and grape hyacinth bulbs to get even earlier blooming color and height variety.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Fried green tomatos are delicious. Coat with flour, dip in egg, coat with bread crumbs. Saute over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes depending on size and ripeness of tomato. sprinkle with parmeasan and enjoy.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

We can admit that we're killers ... but we're not going to kill today. That's all it takes! Knowing that we're not going to kill today! ~ Captain James T. Kirk, Stardate 3193.0

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

although I always heard the outer coating should be cornmeal, not breadcrumbs, but I suppose if i wanted a religious argument I should go back to the ORU thread so I will refrain from denouncing polyblog for heresy. :)

However if you have enough, and they're at least half-grown, I must plug again Grandma's Green Tomato Relish. This does not quite jibe with her verbal description, given every time I demanded the recipe--then she just sort of waved vaguely and said "Just take whatever's left in the garden when you clean it up in fall after the frost." However it's the closest thing I could find when I looted her recipe box after she went to the nursing home. I could kick myself for not just taking the whole damn thing but I was trying to be noble. I do not do that well.


10 green tomatoes
9 average onions
9 carrots
2 stalks celery
6 green and 3 red (sweet) peppers

Grind all fine. Add 1/2 cup salt & let stand while mixing:

1 tbs. celery seed
1 tbs. mustard seed
3 c. vinegar
6 c. sugar

Drain vegetables, then add mixture and put in jars.

There's an alternate version if the thing you have left over is cabbages rather than green tomatoes:

2 heads cabbage, pretty much the same on all the other ingredients (carrots, onions, peppers). The pickle mix is 3 pints (not cups as above) vinegar, 5 c. sugar, 3 tbs. each celery and mustard seed. That one specifies to pack it cold so no cooking at all is required. Probably best to either keep those refrigerated or plan to eat it all over the winter.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

I find daffs bloom before tulips also. The iris usually need to be dug up every third year and divided. If you throw a dusting of bonemeal in the hole before you put dafffs and tulips in they will appreciate. Subsequent years I throw a dusting on the ground above them at this time of year.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

To have a successful flower bed you need to actually make the bed, not just poke holes in the ground. Get your spade and dig up the dirt, pile it nearby and break up any clods as you go. For bulbs in your zone you will need to go down at least 14”. Spread out the dirt and add 1/4 to 1/3 volume of organic, compost or ripened manure or something nutritious, and mix well. Remove all stones large than a marble.

Return enough soil mixture to the hole to bring it to 12” deep, level and place the tulip bulbs as you imagine will be pleasing, six to ten inches of spacing between them is usually right. Add more soil to reach a depth of 6”, gently but firmly tamping down with your hand or the head of a hoe (don’t be silly, you want a garden implement) as you go. Now lay out the daffodils. More soil, more gentle tamping to a depth of 4” for the iris, then more soil and add a few crocus as Bob suggests, you’ll be glad in the spring that you did. Leave the surface of the bed a little proud, it will settle by a couple of inches. Check the expected bloom dates on your bulbs, not likely tulips will flower before the daffys.

Once the blooming is over, pinch off the seed pods and roll up the leaves into bundles at ground level and tie them up with rubber bands or light string where they will be resorbed. Plant coleus or impatiens or something hardy and colorful and shade-tolerant for the summer and fall. If the pattern from the bulbs isn’t what you wanted, the tilled soil will make it easy to dig them up next fall and reposition. Once you’re happy with the pattern, the enriched soil can be top-dressed with organic and otherwise ignored for a decade. Take pictures and post them, please.

Regarding those green tomatoes you’ve picked, put them in a paper bag or cardboard box with an apple or banana. The ethylene gas from the fruit will stimulate the tomatoes to ripen, and they will respond faster in the dark. (This doesn’t work with all heirloom tomato varieties but does with almost all modern hybrids.) Check more or less daily and remove any that show red, they’ll go from green to mush in hurry. Or wash and blanch, remove the skin and dice, then bag and freeze for later use in cooked sauces or salsa. Or slice, batter and deep-fry, a little bad for you but so tasty good. (You can use any decent vegetable oil although I don’t care for olive oil for these, seems bitter to me. Use just enough oil to partially cover, no more than a quarter-inch deep. For that authentic down-home southern flavor add a couple of tablespoons of bacon grease. Yes, but yum.) More fried tomato tips here. I am a puritan, cornmeal or nothing.

An old-fashioned method that does require some space and is a bit messy is to uproot the vines with the green tomatoes left on, then hang them upside-down in a cool dark place. The tomatoes will ripen as the vine shrivels up and in my estimation yield a better-tasting product than the cardboard box approach.