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weeds n seeds's Blog

Gettin' them seeds goin'

Category: gardening | Posted: Wed Jan 30, 2008 8:00 pm

Time has FINALLY come to begin getting just a wee bit serious about planting seeds for this summers vegetables and flowers. January 21 saw gerberas (African Daisies that take 6 months to reach blooming size), lemon catnip (gotta keep the neighborhood cats happy!), asters, bushy Evening Primrose (to "treat" the hummingbird moths) and edible dandy-lions sowed, today it was Red Russian kale, Golden Ace cabbage, fringed decorative kale, Bon Vivant leaf lettuce and smooth-leaf spinach. The crops planted Jan. 21 are coming up, now the wait starts for today's.
The aster seed was taken from "volunteer" plants this past season, the wild Evening primrose seed came from a lovely plant I discovered growing out behind the workshop and was too nice to pass up, just had to collect some seed off spent spikes and save it! Am not a big seed-saver, so was very leary of expect, if anything. The asters were up within 3 days; the minute seedlings of the primrose are just beginning to show today and those brought great JOY to behold! As the primrose is classified as a biennial, I'll be really surprised if it blooms this year, but know it will in 2009 so is something to look forward to there. As for the double-flowering asters, time will tell if they're the annual variety or perennial, left the Mother plants alone, after a cutting back, to see if they'll return later in the season and, if not, I do have the new ones.
The Jan.21 planting of seeds were done in a seed-row planter, will all need transplanting into larger cells/pots/soil within next few weeks. Everything else has been planted in deep cell 6 paks, are in waterproof 1020 trays, covered with plastic domes and are on heat mats for bottom warmth to aid germination.
From the beginning, I leave the plastic domes propped up a bit up to allow for some air circulation, and once all seedlings appear, the domes come totally off, trays of plants that don't need bottom heat any longer are moved to a cooler section of the plant room to grow on. Using the deeper cells for germination would require huge amounts of seed staring medium to fill them, but came across a method in an English gardening book that I just LOVE, and results are GREAT! The bottom 2/3 of the cells are filled with regular dampened potting soil, and only the top 1/3 is filled with the dampened starting medium recommended for starting seeds. What this does is allow the seeds to be planted in a sterile medium and by the time a good root system forms, they are down into soil that affords what they need for good growth..and away they go!
Once seedlings get their second set of "true leaves", they get a light application of a 3 month timed-released pelleted fertilizer simply applied to top of soil (making sure it isn't touching the stems as it will burn them) that I press slightly in, and the watering slowly released til it's time for the plants to be set outside in their respective containers or beds. Works beautifully with any type container used to start seeds, and DOES help eliminate the "did I, or didn't I fertilize" syndrome by taking all the guesswork out of it as you can see the pellets on the soil's surface and know it's been done. I have been doing this for 3 seasons now with unbelievable success.
Have only scratched the surface, so far, starting seeds for 2008, will be an almost constant thing now from mid-February thru early May as I plant by lunar and astrological signs, and gotta get them seeds goin' when the time is right! Happy growing all!!!

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Dirt Under The Fingernails

Category: gardening | Posted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 5:31 pm

Spent 2 1/2 hours yesterday transplanting 60 little "Happy Faces" (pansies) into 3 inch pots and 6 pak cells. Have been waiting..very patiently..for the youngsters roots to start showing at the base of the seed row starter tray telling me "get us into something BIGGER!", and it finally happened: felt SOO GOOD getting my hands dirty while playing in the soil once again!
Started an early variety called "Carolina Giants", and some OLD mixed pansy seeds of several types, in November, planted the old seeds a bit on the heavy side as I didn't know what to expect from them. Much to my surprise, had excellant germination with ALL, even had to cull a few because they were too thickly planted! Broke me heart to do it, but was necessary, watered in the potted seedlings with the tears that fell..what can I say?
I've had a terrible time with getting good pansy seed germination last few years no matter what I tried, so for this season bought/used Pro Mix seed starting medium..the results more than speak for themselves so far! Seedlings are strong and healthy, root systems absolutely beautiful!
They've been transplanted into Pro Mix potting soil now, should have blooming plants by Memorial Day if all goes according to Hoyle, can't WAIT for their lovely scents and joyous colors to greet me when I walk into the greenhouse later in the season! There's just something about them that "makes the day" when nothing else is doing much yet. Way it looks, there'll be hanging baskets and containers full of pansies everywhere, but that's okay in my book as they're such "happy plants".
At present, the trays are still in my sunroom in front of big, south-facing windows, are on bottom heat just in CASE temp out there wants to nosedive during a nasty cold spell (so far, knock on wood!, temp has been getting no lower than 50 degrees nights even tho' outside temps have been as low as 0!). Will let the babies adapt a bit to new potting up, then remove them to another shelf without heat til they can be evacuated into unheated greenhouse, probably in late February.
Next to start are gerberas, blue mealy sage (which looks like Russian Sage), and evening primroses (seeds I saved from a wild plant) end of this month, then in February will be about 30 other things, including peppers and cool weather plants. By May, poor sunroom AND greenhouse will be overflowing with "green" things of all descriptions imagineable! Needless to say, I just LOVE starting everything from seed and watching it grow, especially when the snow's still flyin' outside!

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Seeing GREEN!

Category: gardening | Posted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 5:11 pm

Old Man Winter's a huffin' and a puffin' to his hearts content, blowing powdery snow about to move the drifts from one location to another again. Raised beds/containers sadly sit, decorated by white mushroom-like caps instead of the colorful displays of blooming flowers they held just a few short months ago, greenhouse sits idle like a forlorn igloo with snow swirling constantly around it.
BUT, that's outside! Inside, there are two orchids, African violets, a yellow & pink Christmas cactus, geraniums, other plants blooming/growing that make the spirits soar to see their welcomed beauty..AND it's almost time to begin starting seeds!
As of November, all seeds for the 2008 season were purchased, staggered planting schedules drawn up, trays and cells stacked in eager anticipation of being put to use once more. Pansies..which are now little "greenies"..were started for May blooming, will soon be joined by gerberas, blue mealy sage and a number of other varieties of plants.
Yesterday was planning what will go where and in what, looked at those sad outside containers and actually saw GREEN! Yep! Snapdragons will go there; petunias in that; tomatoes, eggplant, squashes and peppers in those Earthboxs; chards and cukes over there in a new spot this year. What was the dreariest of landscapes suddenly turned into a prolific Garden of Eden in this gardener's mind's eye. Is time to get to WORK and make it happen!
I grow almost everything from seed, experiment with new plants each year to see what does best here and what doesn't, and..believe ME!..have had my share of "flops" along the way as the landfill can readily testify to.
Gardening is constantly living and learning by trial and error: sometimes..I think..the errors outweigh the good, but I'm a glutton for punishment when it comes to gardening, simply "have to try" or I'll never know! I have found that researching plants needs/requirments is an invaluable asset as seed packets don't tell you HALF the story when it comes to starting practices, culture, etc. in most cases, especially with "odd balls" like lemon eucalyptus, verbenas, and gerberas to name a few. Packets usually have generalized instructions..plant and ye shall grow..but I've found that it doesn't hurt to research if trying something new, will save a lot of gray hairs, ulcers and nervous breakdowns in the long run!
YEP! Seein' GREEN even tho' the seed packets, bags of soils are still unopened, guess the adage to "plant a seed and WAIT is to believe" is true after all.

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Tain't Fit Fer Humans..

Category: gardening | Posted: Sun Dec 02, 2007 6:10 pm

But do plants ever slurp it up and thrive! How to make rather oderiferous comfrey "tea": fill a 5-gallon bucket half full of chopped, or cut up, fresh comfrey leaves and stalks. Add a quart of cut up fresh dandelion LEAVES, two large handfuls of epsom salts and 1 1/2 quarts of dried steer manure (if you happen to have the "weeds" plantain and stinging nettles available, be sure to add some of those also). Place the bucket in a sunny out-of-the-way place, fill almost to the rim with water, mix well. cover with a board. Stir daily. The "tea" should be ready in 5-6 weeks, or when you can smell it a block away.
To use: place a clothespin on your nose and extract a dog-food sized can full of the liquid from bucket, add to 1 1/2 gallons of water for dilution purposes, apply weekly to plants. Use the same dilution rate for a foliar feed, straining the tea, if necessary, to remove particles that might clog sprayer nozzle. Keep stirring the "witches cauldron" daily between uses, adding more water if level in bucket gets too low. At seasons end, pour anything left in bucket out in a barren flower/vegetable bed, work lightly into soil.
Comfrey facts: chopped up comfrey is an excellant compost accellerant, creates a lot of "heat" in the pile or composter while adding numerous trace minerals and nutrients. Freshly chopped leaves/stems can also be worked right into garden spaces to improve soils. In Australia, bottoms of potato trenches are lined with chopped leaves, covered with soil then potatoes planted as usual: the method is reputed to halt "potato scab". For EXTERNAL ONLY medical use (plant contains carcinogens, CANNOT be taken internally), sap in stems is unsurpassed in easing the agony of bug bites/stings when applied to the bite site. Leaves, fresh or dried, can be used as a poultice to stop swelling, discoloration and pain of bad bruises, sprains, hence the nickname: "The Bruise Plant". Comfrey blossoms are also great bee magnets. All in all, no garden should be without this highly beneficial herb of many uses.
Enjoy making/using the "tea"..your plants will love you for it!

This blog entry has been viewed 496 times

How to raise a "stink"

Category: gardening | Posted: Thu Nov 29, 2007 5:53 pm

Have two large comfrey plants that outdid themselves this year in wild growth, and being a very firm believer in the virtues of what comfrey offers the gardner, decided to make up a green manure tea using chopped up leaves. Added some dandelion greens for extra WHOOMPH, a couple handfuls of epsom salts, topped everything off with dried steer manure, filled the bucket with water, covered it and let the brewing process begin in a nice sunny spot next to a metal workshop. Once a day the concoction was stirred with a long stick, couldn't wait for the six-week period of "cooking" to be over with and I could begin using the mixture on plants.
First few weeks weren't too bad. By week 4 weather had turned hot and there wasn't a stick LONG enough to stand back and stir everything with as it'd turned just a bit "odoriferous" to say the least! You don't pray for wind in this country..we get enough naturally..but there were days I did, or had to sneak up on the bucket, look around to make sure noone was out in their yards, pop the top, stir, recover and run like the devil as the "green cloud" drifted off in all directions! Was really waiting for a visit from Haz-Mat at any time to check out WHERE the stench was coming from!
My Dad, years before, had made me a long handled dipper for use with manure teas when I once made another batch similiar to this one..luckily I'd kept it! Would scoop out a ladel-full QUICK, dump it in a watering can, get it diluted as fast as possible and watch the plants shirk like "here she comes AGAIN with that stuff!".
When nothing DIED but started really thriving from the use, began foliar feeding with it as well. Might be my imagination, but I noticed a drastic decline in bug and plant problems in general, had the best productivity I've had yet in this locale! Was worried it might smell so GOOD my Saint Bernard would want to roll in raised beds where it was applied, but I'd open the bucket and he'd take off in another the bugs and even the cats!
Will raise another "stink" next year after seeing results this one, had thought about maybe trying to make some homemade fish emulsion as well but don't think I'll push my luck that far in regards to "delightful aromas", would definately have Haz Mat here!

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Welcome to Weeds N Seeds

Category: gardening | Posted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 4:04 pm

Pansies are stirring into action and beginning to "show" their little green heads. Only a few are up so far, but it's a start even if you do practically need a magnifying glass to see them! Had the starter tray on my potting bench extension, when temperature dropped to 50 degrees nights in the unheated sunroom, moved the tray onto a propagation mat for bottom heat, seems to have done the trick. Once they've all germinated, will remove them from heat and keep my fingers crossed!
January will see the planting of blue mealy sage (a plant similiar to Russian sage) and gerberas. First time I'm attempting gerberas..anyone have any suggestions on raising them? Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Is dark, cold and overcast here today, so it's nice to see African violets in bloom and two orchids getting ready to share their beauty with the world as well. Zonal geraniums, in sunroom, are also beginning to bloom despite drastic cutting back in September, are really great "spirit lifters" when the snow flies and those winter doldrums set in. Mother Nature is good to the gardener... .

This blog entry has been viewed 489 times

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