We all enjoy the hope and bright cheeriness spring bulbs bring to the garden and we may be thinking of planting some soon. 
Most species, like daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths and scillas, can be planted any time from now to November.
So, if planting in the open ground, we can pick an afternoon over the next three months when there’s space in the border and we have time for the job. 
We can work on containers whenever it suits us.
But, like many other plants, bulbs develop their roots in autumn when the soil is still warm, so October planting should ensure strong growth and earlier flowering in the spring.
However, the traditional advice is to deny tulip bulbs these benefits by delaying planting till November. From what I can gather, this may be no more than an oft repeated old wives’ tale. 
The story goes that colder November soil would reputably deter various fungal diseases like the infamous tulip fire, Botrytis tulipae, and tulip grey bulb rot, Rhizoctonia tuliparum. These are serious diseases which destroy most of a planting.
Disease is spread by specialist microscopic “spores” called conidia and by “resting organs” called sclerotia. 
Usually round and black, they are visible to the naked eye. They can persist in the soil for several years until conditions are right and there’s a host plant. 
These fungal diseases are hellish but there is no evidence that soil temperature affects whether or not bulbs are infected. 
So plant whenever you want, remembering that tulips will grow more strongly when planted in mid autumn.  
Providing good growing conditions is actually what matters. 
Bulbs do deteriorate after a few years and though replacements are expensive, you’ll need to gradually renew the stock. 
Be sure to buy certified bulbs from reputable nurseries where you will get most choice and the bulbs will be kept in good condition . 
It would be risky to buy bulbs at a local event or get some from well-meaning friends.
If you need to store bulbs till you’re ready to plant, then store them in a cool, dark or shady place, and certainly away from direct light, but never use a fridge. 
Lay on shelf or tray and avoid cramming bulbs too closely together. 
Check regularly that bulbs still look firm and healthy and have no trace of mould, removing any dubious ones.
Before planting, check again that the bulbs are sound. The ground should be moderately fertile, free-draining and preferably alkaline. 
You may need to add a little lime if it’s very acidic. 
Prepare the ground by adding leaf mould or some home-made compost and plant. 
Space the bulbs at least twice their diameter apart and at a depth of between two and three times their height. The pointed end should be at the top. 

Plant of the week

APPLE ‘CHARLES ROSS’ is a medium sweet apple, ripening in September, that is prettily streaked with red over a yellow background. It can be cooked or juiced, and well-ripened fruits are delicious to eat raw.
Charles Ross is partially self-fertile but, like all apples, gives a heavier crop with a compatible variety for better pollination.