Planting bulbs is the first step to a beautiful spring garden. There's still time. You can't wait until spring to plant them; it's now or never.

The soil is still warm and easy to dig. tulips, daffodils and hyacinth bulbs look best when planted "bouquet- style." That means about five bulbs in a hole. Cover them with about five inches of soil on top of them.

My garden is stuffed with bulbs and I add more every year. Even the patio in spring has hundreds of blooming bulbs in pots. Here's how you can do that too:

Gather up all your gallon-size plastic pots. Fill them halfway with soil. Add five or six bulbs and cover them. Water them thoroughly. Don't forget to label them.

These pots can't spend the winter outside without protection, so the next step is to figure out where to store them. It's just too cold for the bulbs to be exposed to freezing temperatures from all sides.

They can be housed in a very cool basement room, crawlspace, unheated garage or shed. They still need a winter chill--that's part of their life cycles--but you need to manage how cold the chill is. Temperatures below 20 degrees may damage them.

If you have an appropriate space, dig a trench. Sink the pots in the trench and fill in the spaces around them with soil. The bulbs are essentially planted in the ground and that's enough to protect them. A thick layer of leaves will also benefit them.

It takes about 16 weeks for the bulbs to send up their new leaves. Bring them out of the garage or basement--or dig them out of the trench--and bring them to the patio.

If you're perpetually plagued with voles, rabbits or deer--forget tulips. They're a critter salad bar. Plant hyacinths and tulips instead. they're poisonous and are generally left alone.