Tulip Forcing at Cool Hollow Flower Farm
In 2021 I took the tulip workshop class for forcing tulips in the winter and ordered several thousand bulbs to be planted in Fall 2021. In January 2021 we had our first hydroponically grown bulbs blooming! We had many crates of bulbs growing in our cooler (turned off and with a space heater and grow lights added). It was truly a feat of engineering, and we were very happy with our experimental endeavors, and we learned a lot of important things that were not necessarily mentioned in any classes. With that knowledge, we were ready to take on tulips again the next year on a much larger scale.
Bulbs in Crates!
In October 2022 our bulbs began to arrive, each box getting a thorough inspection by our littlest employees. In November we received a large freight delivery of two pallets of bulbs (that's about 30,000 tulip bulbs) and we got to work. We enlisted the help of friends and workers during Thanksgiving Week and planted about 15,000 bulbs in two days (only about half of what we would be forcing!). The rest of the bulbs got planted by the first week of December and all were stored away into our newly finished second cooler to grow roots and pretend it was winter.
After a few weeks in the cooler, the crates began to sprout, and it was time to move the first batch into the basement. We carried a few heavy crates down the hill to our house before deciding the truck would make the job much easier. After setting up about tables, we set up many, many grow lights from the complex maze of pipes and ceiling joists. A rather positive feature of our basement, that a previous owner installed, is the unusual number of evenly spaced outlets, which worked out incredibly well for this project. Ducking our heads under copper pipes and HVAC ducts, we went down the winding stairs several times a day to pick tulips at exactly the right stage. Some days we missed a harvest window and the flowers fully bloomed before we could harvest them, so we have some beautiful pictures of really open flowers to show you!