Frank's Phenomenon February 2020
February has come and gone at the Farmstead. While a little early, we have been enjoying some unusually warm days, sprinkled with some colder snowy days. These unusually warm days have caused some of our plants to start producing new growth. Some of the bulb plants have even started blooming adding purple, yellow, and white pops of color to the increasingly green grass and the brown of the forest. What is it that makes bulbs so special that gives them a bit of a head start? Many flowering plants are annuals which grow from a seed to an adult plant producing its own seed babies all in one season. Bulbs take a slower approach. They spend the first few years of their life making leaves but no flowers in order to gather energy and store it as carbohydrates underground in their specialized leaves. When the plant is ready, the carbohydrates in the underground leaves are broken down into individual sugars that the stem uses to push its way above ground, produce more leaves, and make flowers. After the flowers have produced seed and withered away, the leaves start to shut down. The nutrients in the leaves are pulled back into the storage leaves underground to be used next spring. Bulbs provide us with an example of how sometimes being slow and patient can work out better than trying to rush through everything.