Thirty hours and roughly five million bulbs later, Tulip Town’s fields were planted for the 2021 Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.
Planting took place Saturday, Sunday and Monday at the farm west of Mount Vernon. The farm uses a special planting method, brought over from the Netherlands by Tulip Town’s founders, in which bulbs are planted in nylon nets.
Andrew Miller, a current owner of the farm, said the net method has a number of advantages for Tulip Town. When bulbs are harvested in the spring, the nets ensure no bulbs are left behind in a field where they can spread disease. The nets also eliminate the need to wash bulbs, cutting down on wastewater, Miller said.
“It’s an innovation that we brought over that solves labor inefficiencies and environmental costs,” he said.
The system’s other advantage is that it allows the farm to plant neat rows of different tulips close together, instead of in big color blocks. Miller said the system is well-suited for smaller scale farms with less acreage.
“It allows us to design our fields in a way we wouldn’t otherwise,” he said.
This year, the farm planted 5 acres of 30 different tulip varieties. The bulbs are planted on a different patch of land each year to benefit soil health.
Miller said the farm designed its fields this fall to create a larger walkway and space for physical distancing for visitors in the spring.
With rain in the forecast for this past Tuesday, the farm had a short window to get bulbs in the ground.
“It is a pain, it’s not easy,” Miller said. “The field has to be really dry.”