I am expecting 10K Saffron corms in June this year and I have been all over the internet attempting to find 1) what equipment to use to plant the corms. As they are corms I thought a potato planter will do the job because of the similarity in shapes but I do not know. Second is I live in Biggin Hill and there is a dearth of equipment hires locally.

There is a company called burdens.com but no matter how many calls, emails sms I send, I am ignored because my land is only 1.2 acres and I am tiny in my requirements. Others are not any better. HSS never have the equipment.

Is there anybody that knows a good equipment (cheap) that is mechanised like a ride on mower that can be used for the purpose. Since I will doing this regularly, I do not mind buying the equipment.

Please help as I am coming up fast to D-day and I have no idea except I am not planting these by hand. The reason I need the equipment is that I have given the local labour a chance and shall I say they do not come up to my standards.

I may not be able to do the whole work but I can do a bit and that bit will be done properly.
However the local help are not capable of that and hiring them will mean I eventually try and do the work myself which will be a double loss bcos once I agree to paying, I will find it difficult to "carp" and being forced to do the work myself will result in paying twice.

Can anyone recommend a piece of equipment, either hand driven or towed by a tractor or motorised cycle (forgot its name now - something x) that can at least dig the furrows to the right depth and spacing?

I can then plant the bulb manually. I am using clay beads to improve drainage. so topping up the holes will be the easiest part of it.

I need a suggestion of the equipment name that can dig the holes properly at least depth and spacing. Anybody?...

As I said, manually doing it -- My back will not stand the workload. Neither my hips. Nor my life.
So please help.

  • I think planting by hand it is the better solution. It will take one or two days, so possibly less than using a machine (with all the process). For harvesting you should do by hand in any case. Apr 26 '18 at 10:19

You haven't said whether these will be growing outdoors (or in a polytunnel for wet protection in winter, for instance), but on the assumption you have already prepared a sunny, well drained, relatively dry-in-winter area by digging the soil over, then all you need to do is make shallow trenches 10cm-15cm deep so that the corms can be planted at that depth, spaced 15cm apart. If you haven't prepared the area, then that needs doing asap - if there are no pernicious weeds such as dandelions or bindweed, then hire a rotavator or cultivator. Or pay someone local to come and do it for you. I'm assuming here, based on the number of corms you've ordered, that you're not intending to use them decoratively in flower beds and borders, but rather as a crop, which means growing in rows is fine and makes harvesting a bit easier (if there is sufficient space between rows to walk along).

Ongoing, you will need to dig up the corms every few years and replant, because new corms are produced at the top of the original corm, and over time, these will be too near the surface of the soil, see here under Growing info http://www.suttons.co.uk/Gardening/Flower+Bulbs/All+Bulbs/Saffron+Crocus+Bulbs_MH2993.htm#CMRTabs2

  • Are you sure bulbs need protection in winter? UK does not experience real freeze. BTW in Switzerland, we have few "traditional places" where saffron is cultivated on grassland on mountains. Apr 26 '18 at 11:06
  • @GiacomoCatenazzi - in the UK, yes, we generally have mild winters - but we also get a lot of rain, and wet soil when its chilly or cold is not something Crocus sativus likes, which is why growers here might do it in poly tunnels, depending on the local conditions. Its not about hardiness, they're perfectly hardy here. Lots of plants that should survive our winter temps don't - its the wet that gets them (Pelargonium being an example - mine have come through this winter outdoors because they're under shelter, not exposed to rain)
    – Bamboo
    Apr 26 '18 at 11:19
  • Ah ok. In fact we have cold weather, but relatively dry (or frozen) soil on winter. Apr 26 '18 at 11:24
  • It is going to grown in polytunnels so protected from wet. I am in the process of getting the local labour to do the preparation but I was not sure they could plant 10K corms. they are not professionals in the sense they are just labour available
    – seanbw
    Apr 26 '18 at 12:13
  • Well, oversee the layout of the planting furrows and show them how deep the furrows need to be and how far apart the bulbs should be, give 'em a ruler each if necessary. And if it is a crop, do remember you have to get to the flowers to remove the stamens, so think about that when designing the layout
    – Bamboo
    Apr 26 '18 at 15:21

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