Het Schrijflokaal

Harvesting bulbs in traditional fashion

Hortus Bulborum volunteers still dig by hand


Volunteers dig the precious bulbs by hand.

Volunteers dig the precious bulbs by hand.

It is an extremely busy time for bulb growers right now. The majority of tulips, hyacinths and Fritillaria have been dugged up in the past two weeks. Major bulb growers do the harvesting by machine. At the Hortus Bulborum the process is still performed in the traditional manner: by hand and on the knees in the sand.

Seven weeks
The large number of volunteers is heartening. Seven men are lending a helping hand; two of them are board members and together they have completed the task in the past weeks. The willing workers are Gerard Glorie, Piet Veldt, Gerrit Veldt, Gé Timmer, Herman Neelissen, Joop Zonneveld and Jan Dijkman. The time invested in the harvesting process is considerable: 215 hours for the tulips, sixteen hours for the hyacinths, 30 hours for the Fritillaria, and twenty hours for the crocus. That’s a total of about 280 hours! It would take one single worker seven weeks of labour to complete the task.

Quality Bulbs
This time-consuming but careful harvesting method will benefit these special bulbs. The volunteers are efficient and experienced so little damage to the bulbs will occur while the number of overlooked ‘sick’ bulbs is next to none. After harvesting, the bulbs are sent to bulb company Th.Apeldoorn at the nearby village of Egmond, co-owned by Hortus chairman of the board Piet Apeldoorn. The bulbs will be stored there during the next month in order to be dried. No complaints about the volume of the harvest this year because it is quite sizeable. This holds also true for the olden-but-golden Duc van Tol group of tulips, the oldest of which dates back to 1595.

Photo: Hortus Bulborum – Max Nuyens.

See also: www.hortus-bulborum.nl

(June 23, 2007, by Leslie Leijenhorst)