Last call for the Candy Store!

The time to dig up the Daffodils has arrived again. I actually wanted to start a day earlier than I did this year, but as I was answering emails on my computer, I opened up the beloved Dutch website Buienradar (“rain radar”) and was confronted with this image:

That red dot is me sitting behind my computer, right in the eye of the storm. Outside, it was deadly quiet, our windmill was off, I couldn’t hear a single leaf moving in the wind, all the birds seemed to be gone, it was a very surreal experience. I’ll try to find a specific map of the wind to show you more.

This pink butterfly showed a maximum wind power of 142 kilometers per hour, so I decided I should wait one more day before starting on my Daffodils. I did go outside, but this time, it was to see if everything was closed off properly and to make sure everything that might be blown away was taken inside. We’ve been lucky, nothing has been damaged, at least not in our area. Barely an hour later, the news on TV was showing nothing but fallen branches, camping gear that had to be taken down from trees, lorries laying on their side and whole beach houses were suddenly located on the other side of the dyke.

But, after rain always comes sunshine, and we started digging the next day in beautiful weather. I started with the Hyacinths: this is quite a rare one, not a lot of people have this variety. It’s called Gloria Mundi.

She is as old as the road to Rome, but all that time hasn’t made her any less nice to look at.

Gloria Mundi has had good growth this year. She’ll be available in our web shop. Hyacinths and Daffodils share a very important trait: every year, they give a lot of young, new bulbs. Therefore, they are easy to grow and a delight for any gardener to work with.

Narcissus Dainty Monique

The first Daffodils for our Candy Store have also been dug, and I wanted to use this newsletter to tell you more about that. Over a month ago, I already told you a bit about our Candy Store, but I failed to mention that the store closes when we start digging the Daffodils. That is extremely early compared with other closing times, but I want to tell you why we do this.

Narcissus Avalanche of Gold

As soon as the Daffodils are ‘Dry from wind and roots dehydrated,’ as the growers say, they are taken off the land and into the warehouses. There, they will be processed: cleaned and sorted by size. We take out the bulbs that have been sold, and whatever is left over is readied for planting again. The ones that are ready for planting go with all the others, hundreds of varieties, all with a very small number of bulbs, and as soon as a variety has been processed, it’s a time-consuming task to search for one specific variety that may just be 50 bulbs.

Narcissus bulbocodium Casual Elegance

There are over a thousand varieties, and in just a few weeks’ time, I sort them all by hand and count out the ones that have been ordered through the Candy Store. You can imagine that it’s impossible to keep a few extra of these bulbs out in case anyone wants to order them later in the year—as the varieties are so small, 3 bulbs might be 10 percent of the whole variety—so I count out the exact number of bulbs that have been ordered.

Narcissus Tazetta pachybolbus

I have always told my fellow rare Daffodil variety customers the same thing: as soon as the Tour de France starts, you can’t order anymore. I love being able to supply these rare Daffodils that only exist in extremely small numbers, but as soon as I’ve processed them and they are stored in rows of bulbs ready to be planted again, I won’t go looking for one specific variety that someone has ordered late. It’s just way too time-consuming: they’ll have to wait until next year.

Narcissus Pompiere

The Tour de France always starts the first weekend of July, and around that time, we start working on the miniature Daffodils, too. We dig them all the old-fashioned way, with the tool you saw me using in the picture. They go into crates that are also taken off the land by hand, so it’s a day of physical activity to get all these varieties out of the ground and into the warehouse. Luckily, when you’re done for the day, you can watch the finish of the Tour de France with wine and French cheese.

Narcissus High Society

As soon as the work on the land is finished, or the weather is just too bad, we start cleaning and counting the sold Candy Store Daffodils. At that point, I must know the exact number of what has been sold. This year, I have failed to mention this clearly, so we postponed the closing of the shop until July 16. But keep in mind for the next years: Tour the France starts & the Candy Store closes.

And for those thinking: ‘That poor Carlos, all alone in the field with his pre-World War digging tool’—no worries, it’s quite a nice task, in my opinion. Next to our Daffodils, a large field of Zantedeschias is being cleaned, and I can see someone from Vertify coming to look at them. Vertify is a research institute that looks at areas in which a lot of flower bulbs are being grown. They keep an eye on the quality of the soil, an important task, as new, cleaner, and more sustainable ways of treating the soil for disease and lack of nutrients are being developed every year. They are constantly busy comparing and analyzing different characteristics of the soil. Last week, I was just digging my Daffodils as their car got stuck in the side of the road…

…and what do we do when we have a problem? Call Hoogland, you’ll probably remember him from another newsletter. He went and got his tractor and managed to rope the car out soon enough.

That was it for this week, I’m going back to my Daffodils.

Kind regards,

Carlos van der Veek