Bulb Planting Auger

Being married to a guy who is obsessed with tools is a good thing. Whereas I can spend hours online researching flower seeds, bulbs and plants and regularly blow my budget at the nursery, my husband Geoff (a contractor and carpenter) does the same with construction and wood working tools. 

I was talking about my plans to plant 1000+ bulbs in the garden this fall. Geoff mentioned that I should get a bulb planting auger. I hadn't heard of this before and it sounded interesting but I didn't really pay attention. I have a tendency to tune him out when he starts talking about tools... 

But finally I did some research and realized immediately that I needed this tool! Unfortunately by that point, they were sold out (Lee Valley). I called all the local farm supply centres and nurseries and home supply stores. No-one even knew what I was talking about, let alone had them in stock. 

Eventually I found them on Amazon and ordered 2. They come in different lengths and diameters, so I got one for smaller bulbs like tulips (2" diameter) and one for larger bulbs like fritillary persica (2.75" diameter). 

And wow, did this tool ever deliver. Take a look at how fast I was able to create my planting holes.  

A few things to point out:

  • You can see that I'm brand new to using this tool. I was a bit hesitant but I used it later on in the day to plant the rest of my bulbs, and once I had some practice, the whole process was much faster and smoother. 
  • I was using a corded drill. For drilling in smaller areas in soft soil, a cordless drill would work just fine. The more tough the dirt and the more holes you need to drill, the more power you'll need. 
  • It's a bit tricky to drill a lot of holes all at once without stepping on the beds (which is a no-no if you want to avoid soil compaction). I found that the best way to approach it was to stand in one spot, drill about 6-8 holes right in front of me, then step sideways along the length of my bed, drill another set of holes, and so on. If drilling holes on a lawn for example, where you would be walking anyway, it would be much faster.  
  • Drills have a reverse button which lets you reverse the rotation in case you end up drilling too deep and get stuck. You'll see in the video that I used this a couple of times. So awesome. 
  • What I love about the auger is that it lets you get quite deep in the soil. Over the past few years I've been experimenting with planting my bulbs deeper than typically suggested - this way I can create various layers in the soil - narcissus down deep below the roots of a perennial for example. This tool lets me do that really easily. And there are other augers out there that let you go much deeper than the one I'm using. 
  • I also love the precision it provides with each hole. With the auger, I can either plant each bulb in perfect rows with identical spacing, or wild and uneven, and either way, I'm saving time and not breaking my back. Perfect. 
  • So worth the cost. I bought this off Amazon for $40-ish CAD. Even if I had to buy a drill (est. $150 CAD minimum) it would still be worthwhile. If the cost of buying a drill puts you off, you could also rent one or borrow one from your neighbour in exchange for a some flowers come spring ;) 
  • Geoff recommends using a 1/2" drill. And he says that larger, more powerful drills are best for this sort of thing as they will spin a bit more slowly and therefore give you more control.