You would be excused for thinking that I was talking about my children, and although they can be helpful, they usually engage with the garden under supervision. Let’s be honest, building an animal pen with my tomato stakes, and then chasing the ducks around the garden to test their design skills, is not always helpful.
I am talking about bulbs, but in particular, spring bulbs. In our Mediterranean climate they are perfect for our winter rainfall. They have flowered, stored energy for the following spring, before the summer heat arrives, forcing them to hide themselves deep in the drying ground.
So why then do I view them as my little helpers. I love it when the Daffodil bulbs start breaking ground. Not only because I can’t wait for those beautiful yellow flowers, but it reminds me that my little helpers are at it again.
At least three months ago when the summer heat subsided and the first rains started falling, their roots started digging through the ground, aerating my soil, stimulating the soil life with their exudates and getting themselves ready for their true awakening. There is that exciting bursting through the ground, and their leaves starting to produce all that energy, sequestering carbon from the atmosphere and don’t forget, continue feeding that soil life.
By early summer, the flowers having graced my garden, bedroom, kitchen, dining room table ( ok you get the idea), they have stored energy in their bulbs to last the long hot summer and then kickstart the following spring, and they begin to die back. Most of the roots will die back as do the old bulb scales, leaving organic matter in the soil, tiny channels for aeration, and allowing summer rains to penetrate deeper into the soil. The leaves die off and become a mulch for the soil, further protecting it from the summer heat, adding organic matter to the soil, or for the neat freaks to add more organic matter to your compost heap.
So after having aerated my soil, fed the soil food web, beautified my life, added compost to the soil, saved the planet from greenhouse gases and then mulched and protected the soil, it has been looking after so well, they go to sleep. Sleep well my little helpers, see you next year.