Garden Update, 4/26/21

Spring is finally here; time for an update!

Since my last update on 4/12, I have not done much seed planting–mainly repeats of previous starts, just in case.

Seed sowing, 4/15/21:

Carrot, DragonSeedSavers
Carrot, Shin KurodaBotanical Interests
Carrot, Sugarsnax 54 (pelleted)Johnny’s Seeds
Carrot, Uzbek GoldenBaker Creek

The carrot bed is finally up! No germination yet, though 😦

Seed sowing, 4/16/21:

Basil, Mrs. Burns LemonPark Seedsseeds
Rudbeckia, Gloriosa Daisy Prairie SunPark Seedsseeds
Rutabaga, Navone YellowBaker Creekseeds
Eggplant, Listada de GandiaBotanical Interestsseeds
Tomatillo, Grande Rio Verde Botanical Interestsseeds
Beet, CylindraJohnny’s Seedsseeds
Lettuce, Little Gem Baker Creekseeds
Chives, CommonBaker Creekseeds
Onion, Tokyo Long White BunchingSustainable Seedsseeds
Lettuce, Green Sweet Crisp (Salanova)Johnny’s Seedsseeds
Tomatillo, PurpleBaker Creekseeds
Cabbage, WakefieldSustainable Seedsseeds
Cabbage, Napa One Kilo Slow BoltBotanical Interestsseeds

This was my last big batch of seed sowing this year. I added in a rudbeckia I’d just received and a basil that a you tuber had recommended. I resowed my eggplant and tomatillo as the seedlings have not been looking healthy and these nightshades take forever to grow. I also did succession plantings of lettuces, onions, and brassicas. One thing I did find out from this batch was that rutabagas and cabbages germinate overnight and grow insanely fast. Too fast, in fact. I ended up turning this into microgreens and eating them right out of the trays 🙂 I’ll plant them again later once I actually have some beds prepare for them.

Seed sowing, 4/20/21:

Cabbage, Nero di Toscana (Dinosaur)Baker Creek
Nasturtium, Cherry Rose JewelBaker Creek
Nasturtium, Tall Trailing MixBaker Creek

I received a new nasturtium and needed some more trailing nasturtiums, so into the dirt they went. The Nero di Toscana cabbage is actually more like a kale, and didn’t germinate nearly as fast as the other cabbages.

My main focus the last two weeks has been on my live plants and on WTH I’m going to put everything.

This past weekend, I received a bunch of Purple Passion asparagus crowns as well as some Joan J Thornless raspberry canes, both from the same Amazon seller from whom I picked up my green asparagus. Raspberries went into large fabric containers for the time being because I’m just not up to digging up every single bed in my yard this year. I tore out the obvious 30 year old raspberry canes and placed the fabric bed on top of it; however, due to raspberries having rhizomes, who knows what the full extent of the 30-year-old root structure at the moment. (All I know is we constantly find random raspberry sprouts everywhere in the backyard.) Golden raspberries should be on the way, but as they are from Stark Bros, that’s a dicey bet–all of my orders from them keep getting pushed back, and as I found, they don’t give cash refunds. 😦

I’ve received all three of the apple trees I ordered. Two from Gilby’s Orchard in MN (the Haralson and the HoneyCrisp dwarf trees) and look as good as bare root trees get. They are both 4 ‘ tall and have a few branches, and flower buds are already starting. I potted both up in extra-tall fabric grow bags as my plan currently is not to put anything large into the ground until I know exactly where I want to put it.

The third apple tree, a dwarf Fuji apple, was originally ordered from Stark Bros, but they kept pushing their delivery dates back 3-4 weeks, so I eventually canceled it. I then saw this particular apple also listed on Home Depot, so despite having ordered it through Home Depot last year and the order eventually having been canceled on me, I went ahead and ordered it there as well. I honestly expected it to be canceled like last year, but it shipped almost right away. When I received it, however, it was nothing more than a long stick with a few roots sticking out perpendicular to the base of the tree. Truly a Charlie Brown’s apple tree. It was also marked “standard size”, not dwarf. I contacted HD right away, and amazingly, within minutes I had a refund approved and was told to keep the tree and dispose of it as I would. (I checked their reviews for this particular tree and almost all of the reviews from this month said the same thing–they received a standard sized tree, contacted HD, and got a refund. So clearly HD is having an issue with that particular supplier.) I also noticed that the entry on their website now reads “standard sized Fuji apple”, not dwarf. The sad part is that I was in my local HD the other day and saw several lovely, tall, potted standard sized Fuji apples for the about the same price. (Wish my yard could fit a standard sized apple, but alas, I live in the city.) No one local seems to have dwarf Fujis, so it’ll probably have to wait until next year. As for the poor tree I did receive, I potted it up and we’ll see if it’ll grow. If it does survive, I’ll keep it potted and pass it along to someone else once it gets too big.

I made a pleasant discovery at another big box store. My partner dragged me into a local Walmart last week so that he could pick up a belt, and of course I wandered over to the garden center. Where I found, to my surprise, many of the fertilizers and other soil components I was already using, and at a much cheaper price. And, even better, I found DAHLIA BULBS–2 bulbs for $5 a pack, and a good variety of them. So of course I picked a bunch up. I wish I had know earlier that Walmart sold dahlia bulbs; it would have made this year’s dahlia experiment so much cheaper. I even picked up a few things I hadn’t planned on trying this year, but since they were so cheap and I never go to Walmart, I figured now would be the time: elephant ears, hollyhocks, peonies, and some kind of golden potatoes. (I also got a clematis, but it didn’t survive.) I only chose dahlias that I could see were already sprouting, so I was guaranteed that the bulbs are viable. I’ll put an expanded list of my dahlias up in another post; it’s gotten a bit ludicrous, honestly.

Finally, I did get some of my roses planted, with help from a good friend. I was replacing some 20 year old peonies along a side fence with some huge Double-Red Knock Out roses I picked up at Costco the other day. My friend wanted the old peonies, so we both benefited. And let me tell you, 20-year-old peonies have bulb clusters. Hopefully they will survive transplant; though they haven’t yet bloomed, they have already sent up a good amount of foliage, and so weren’t dormant when we pulled them. The roses look great planted next to the fence and in a year or so should be bushy enough to start providing a pretty, fragrant privacy screen.

Next up: finishing all of my raised beds, and filling them with soil.

Things I have learned, April 2021

So I’m nose-deep in seedlings of all size, needs, and variety. Many things I’ve had to re-sow at least twice, because germination was low or my cat ate them. (He specifically likes the hot peppers.) Some of the seedlings I almost lost due to overwatering–apparently seedlings turning pale yellow is a sign of overwatering! Some of the seedlings needed to be babied more than you’d think–my green peas and sweet peas are not nearly as cold-hardy as everyone says (at least not while germinating.) And, you will always need more heat mats and lights than you think.

Now that the local stores are selling seed starts, I’ve also learned a few more things. One, unless they are some kind of rare or otherwise interesting variety, don’t bother growing pansies and violas. You can get 6-packs of them in stores cheaper and quicker than you can grow them. Despite being small flowers, they seem to take forever to grow. Also, poppies, though very pretty once mature, are thin, frail-looking seedlings that take forever to grow and are a pain to pot on. (Cabbage and turnip seeds, on the other hand germinate almost instantly and grow an inch a day–probably why they make good microgreens.) Finally, box stores can and will be actively selling full-grown tomato plants long before our last frost date has passed. (I hate to imagine how many inexperienced gardeners lost their entire veggie garden after our unseasonably warm days followed by a hard freeze last week.)

Finally, you will almost always be able to get better deals in person at the store than online. For example, if I’d know Walmart sold dahlia tubers ($5/bag, two tubers per bag), I’d have saved a good bit of money and also gotten my dahlia cuttings started sooner. (A tuber is pretty much a tuber, no matter where you get it–especially plants like dahlias that you can take cuttings from.) As I was house-bound due to the surgery, though, there was only so much I could do. 😦

And finally finally, I’ve had to admit that, due to the surgery and the longer-than-expected healing process, I won’t be able to do everything I had planned in the garden this year. I had hoped to avoid container gardening almost entirely, but as most of my garden space has old established plants that need to be dug up or moved–or is still lawn and not yet garden space at all– into containers they’ll go. In the long run, this may help with the big plants. especially, as it gives me time to figure out the best spots for them. But it means, in the short run, much more hand-watering that I had wanted to do, as running irrigation will be a pain.

Seed Starting Update 4/12/21

And, finally, a seed starting update. You didn’t think it was all live plants, did you?

(This one will be long. Luckily this blog layout goes to a cut on the main page after a few lines.)

Where did I leave off? Oh yes, March 27th. So, since then, this is what I’ve planted:

Seed starting, 3/30/21:

Tomato, Thornburn’s TerracottaBaker Creek
Tomato, White Tomesol Baker Creek
Tomato, Dad’s SunsetBaker Creek
Tomato, Barry’s Crazy CherryBaker Creek
Pepper, Biquinho Yellow (hot)Baker Creek
Sweet Pea, My NavyBotanical Interests
Sweet Pea, Little SweetheartBotanical Interests
Sweet Pea, Royal BlendBotanical Interests
Dahlia, Café au LaitSkyfall Flowers
Dahlia, Giant Hybrid MixJohnny’s Seeds

I bought a bunch of orange tomatoes to try, and received a free packet of white tomato seeds as well. Also, technically, the Dahlia was a tuber that I pre-sprouted, not a seed. ANd, another round of sweet peas. They are currently my bane.

Seed starting, 4/2/21:

Purple echinacea (stratified)Sustainable Sprout
Peppermint (stratified)Sustainable Sprout
Valerian (stratified)Tradewinds Fruits
Giant Columbine (stratified)MI Gardener
Lavender, Provence Blue (stratified)Sustainable Sprout
Calendula, Pacific Beauty Mix Baker Creek
Aster, Giant Perfection Mix Baker Creek
Bachelor’s Button, Blue BoyBotanical Interests
Calendula, Pink Surprise Baker Creek
ECHINACEA, Green TwisterSwallowtail Seeds
ECHINACEA, Primadonna Deep RoseSwallowtail Seeds
ECHINACEA, White SwanSwallowtail Seeds
Morning Glory, PurpleWild harvested
Zinnia, California GiantBotanical Interests
Zinnia, Queeny Lime OrangeBotanical Interests
Zinnia, SenoraR H Shumway’s
Pepper, Aurora (hot, decorative)Seed Savers Exchange
Leek, King RichardJohnny’s Seeds
Dianthus, Sweet WilliamPinetree Seeds

One day, I will get those Echinacea seeds to sprout! Perennials are the next frontier, apparently.

Seed starting, 4/3/21:

Sweet Pea, My NavyBotanical Interests
Sweet Pea, Royal BlendBotanical Interests
Sweet Pea, Little SweetheartBotanical Interests
SalanovasJohnny’s Seeds
Basil, Lettuce LeafBaker Creek
several nasturtiumsmisc
Sugar Snap peasJohnny’s Seeds
Bulgarian Giant LeeksBaker Creek

I had just gotten a new order of Sweet Peas in, as my last batch did not take. And it seemed prudent to get some more nasturtiums, leeks, and lettuces started.

Seed starting, 4/4/21:

Pusa CarrotsBaker Creek
Sugar Snax CarrotsJohnny’s Seeds
Dragon CarrotsBaker Creek
Breakfast RadishesBotanical Interests
Yellow TurnipsBaker Creek
Mulberry TreeBaker Creek

Working on getting some carrots planted, and filling the Greenstalk.

Seed starting, 4/5-4/6/21:

Dahlia, Dwarf CactusRH Shumway
Sugar Snap PeasJohnny’s
German ChamomileBotanical interests
Pink HollyhocksBaker Creek
Giant DahliaJohnny’s
Cylindra BeetsJohnny’s
Botlhardy BeetsPinetree Seeds
Ruby Swiss ChardBotanical interests
Lollipop Mix GaillardiaBaker Creek
Hollyhock, NigraTrade Wind Fruit
Pansy, Got the Blues Botanical Interests
Poppy, Amazing GreyBotanical Interests
Poppy, Spring Melody Blend California Botanical Interests
Poppy, Falling In Love Baker Creek
Poppy, Hungarian Blue Breadseed Baker Creek
Rudbeckia, Autumn ColorsPinetree Seeds
Snapdragon, Madame Butterfly MixJohnny’s Seeds
Viola, King Henry Botanical Interests
Dianthus, Sweet WilliamPinetree Seeds
Delphinium, Magic Fountains Sky Blue/WhiteSwallowtail Seeds

Here I was, attempting to get more cold-hardy plants started from seed outdoors. As of yet, none of the flowers have sprouted, so back inside to the heat mat they go.

Seed starting, 4/8/21:

White MalvaPinetree Seeds
African DaisyBaker Creek
Bachelor’s Button, Classic Romantic Botanical Interests
Bergamont, WildBotanical Interests

A small batch of seeds started–Botanical Interests is having a free-shipping deal during all of April, and I couldn’t resist.

Also on 4/8/21, I starting trying my hand at taking cuttings from the bushes in our yard: purple lilac, honeysuckle, and our large quickfire hydrangea. Still waiting to see how these turn out. So far, the honeysuckle cuttings look good while the rest seem just eh.

“Seed” starting, 4/11/21:

A big chunk of my dahlias arrived yesterday, and I spent a few hours pruning and splitting them. I also potted up ‘Melody Pink’ and ‘Great Silence’ in the hopes that I can start taking cuttings off of them. Nothing like a plant that is easy to propagate 🙂 Makes me feel a little bit better about how much they all cost.

Seed starting today, 4/12/21:

Sweet Pea, My NavyBotanical Interests
Sweet pea, Royal BlendBotanical Interests
Sweet Pea, Bouquet Blend Botanical Interests
Sweet Pea, Knee-Hi Blend Botanical Interests
Sweet Pea, Perfume Delight Botanical Interests

One last attempt at growing sweet peas, again thanks to Botanical Interests.

From now on, I’ll likely just be focusing on live plants and potting up my current seedlings. And the, you know, actual gardening, since I should finally be able to get out and start working in the beds next week.

Live Plant Update 4/12/21

So, a lot has happened in the garden in the last ten days or so. I am finally up and mobile (and in PT, oh joy) and am able to get out and do some of the larger planting. Luckily, last week my orders of living plants started rolling in.

First to arrive was a Coral Knock-Out Rose I ordered from Home Depot (I was getting impatient waiting for the nurseries and garden centers to send out my plants, so I did finally buy a few from Home Depot). My plan for the rose is to create a screen between myself and my neighbors on the right side–our fence is a picket-style fence that is only 3′ tall, and the lack of privacy is killing me. The rose was smallish, in my opinion, for a 1 gallon rose, but seems healthy and has a ton of fresh growth on it. I know it’ll take a few years for it to turn into the screen I envision it to be, but hopefully it’ll be a great yard decoration until then.

Next to arrive were my Night-Blooming Jasmines (Jessamine). Trying to veer away from large corporations (on the whole), I canceled my order with Burpee and found a dealer on Etsy who had amazing ratings and a decent price on the jasmine. I ordered three plants, thinking that they would be tiny and I’d need three or so to fill up a large pot for my deck. They were not. They were exquisitely packaged and each were at least 10″ tall and fully bushy. And, despite our week of 50s/60s temps and on-and-off again rain, they are thriving, with plenty of new growth. It looks like I’ll need to re-home at least one of them, as these are in no way hardy to my zone and I’ll have to bring them inside to overwinter them.

Next up were my strawberries from Johnny’s Seeds. All of the 25 bare-root strawberry plants in my order were healthy and moist with long roots. I planted about 18 of them in my Greenstalk and the rest went into small planters to give away to friends. The strawberries are not much to look at now, but since I took the pics they have sprouted–and at least one of them has been eaten by some unknown critter 😦 Which is probably why the smallest order is 25 plants–they assume I’m going to lose some of them, one way or another.

I think in the future, when I buy annual or biannual live plants, I’m going to stick with Johnny’s. They are the only company (aside from the Etsy dealer) that delivered the quality product that they said they would, when they said they would. They are a bit more expensive than places like Burpees or Ferry Morse, but from all I’ve seen and heard, they are extremely reliable. I have an order of sweet potato slips due to arrive in May; hopefully they’ll be of the same quality.

This week a few other plants have arrived: a ZinFin Doll hydrangea and a small order of Jersey Knight asparagus roots, The hydrangea was from Home Depot (same order as the rose) and arrived in pretty good condition. The plan for that is to also be a living screen blocking off part of the fence with my next-door neighbors. I hear that hydrangeas grow fast, and sooner is better than later. (We also have a ten-year-old QuickFire hydrangea next to the house, which is about 8′ tall at this point and looks like a small tree. If the ZinFin Doll gets anywhere near that height, I’ll be happy.) The asparagus was a last-minute panic buy from a random seller on Amazon, but the crowns arrived today in very good condition–I was highly impressed. Assuming we have no rain, they’ll go into the ground tomorrow.

New plants that are on the horizon: two Limelight Prime hydrangeas, both to help block the fence on the other side of my yard. Also, after forty-four years of waiting, I’ve finally ordered a red Japanese maple to fill in the empty spot between the garden and the back of the house. Bloodgood Japanese Maple, I can’t wait to add you to my growing menagerie of plants. ❤

A mature Bloodgood Japanese Maple tree

Splitting and Pre-sprouting Dahlia Tubers

The day has finally arrived! I received my first big batch of dahlia tubers yesterday, from Longfield Gardens. I had also received one tuber each from Skyfall Flowers and Dutchbulbs.com a few weeks ago. With all of these tubers, I decided to try my hand at pre-sprouting–for some of them, just to make sure the bulbs were viable; for others, because I wanted to take cuttings and grow more of them 🙂

The first bulb I received, back on 3/25/21 (I’m in zone 5a/b), was from Dutchbulbs. It was a Fleurel bulb clump for my Moon Garden, and it looked absolutely dead. It was a dehydrated as could be, with the outer layer sloughing off most of the tuber clump. I trimmed everything off except for one damaged tuber which looked like it had a bit of crystalized sap on it, and planted that just to see if it was actually viable. The tuber from Skyfall Flowers, on the other hand, was a finely trimmed and cared-for Cafe au Lait tuber (that I paid way to much in shipping for–$15 for one bulb!). It looked happy and healthy. I planted both in pots indoors, and both have now pre-sprouted! The desiccated Fleurel actually has three sprouts coming off of it. I am amazed.

By far the bulk of my dahlias, however, have come from Longfield Gardens. Their prices are amazing (for us non-wholesale buyers, anyway)–3 full clumps of tubers per order, with each order usually ranging in cost from $14-$16.50. (Plus free shipping over $50!) I realized, when I received the bulbs, how they could offer such a low price on their dahlias, when so many other online companies are charging the same prices but for one bulb only. The clumps, when they arrived, were kind of a mess. Some of the clumps were almost immaculate, while others (such as the Melody Pink, for some reason) were so beat up I could barely salvage one good tuber out of each clump. Still, I was able to get at least one good tuber per clump for each type of dahlia I ordered–and some of them had up to 6 or 7 viable tubers. Here was how I processed them.

Though I hadn’t ever split a dahlia tuber before, I’ve now watched countless videos on how to do it, so I decided to give it a go. With the Longfield dahlias, I have at least three of each variety, so I figured the odds were good. I had heard that people often choose to divide the tubers in the spring because it is easier to find the eyes, and I have to agree. A good 2/3rds of the bulbs had eyes already sprouting. With the rest, I took an educated guess, or just kept them together in one clump.

Finally, I potted up two varieties yesterday: Melody Pink, as it was so beat up and I was concerned none of the tubers were viable; and Great Silence, as a friend of mine has already put in a request for that one. (I’m waiting on a set of 10×10 trays from Bootstrap Farmer to arrive before I pre-sprout the rest.)

The sprouts on my first Fleurel and Cafe au Lait bulbs from my earlier orders are just about ready to be cut, so I should have a Pre-Sprouting Dahlias Part 2 coming up soon. Wish me luck!

Leeks are planted!

The leeks are planted! As are the onions. I just barely made it in time–waiting 2.5 weeks out of the 3 weeks that Dixondale recommends as the limit. The starts did look pretty dry, but they weren’t moldy. I gave them a good watering and some fertilizer, so here’s hoping they’ll settle in. We have relatively warm weather for the next 2.5 days before it heads back into freezing again, so hopefully that’s enough time for them to get acclimated. Item #1 marked off of my Garden 2021 to-do list, huzzah!

My First Foray into the Backyard

Last Friday, I had my 6-week check-up with my surgeon. He said, and I quote, “Do as much as your pain allows”. Of course, the first day I overdid it, trying to walk everywhere without crutches, and even tried the stairs, and now am back to using crutches again. (Stairs: not a good idea.)

Today was my first day to actually get out into my backyard since last December. I waited until the weather was at least 50F and not raining, which didn’t happen until today. I still used the crutches, and had my fiancé carry a few things out for me, but still! I was in the backyard! It was progress.

I found that one of my 30-year old rhubarb plants (one of which I had completely removed last fall, and the other of which I severely pruned) had survived. I now have one extremely large rhubarb plant, despite having removed a good 3/4 of the root system last fall. (I have photos I’ll post at some point; 30-year-old rhubarb roots are huge, moldy, and disgusting. And they extend for what seems like miles.)

I also found that I had apparently mulched my garlic beds too much. (Or, perhaps, I should have removed the mulch sooner.) I had out about 6″ of mixed leaf and grass clippings on it last November, worried that the garlic would freeze over winter. Some of the garlic shoots had made its way through the mulch, but most of it hadn’t. Once I removed the mulch I found that almost all of them did sprout, though, which is a good sign. Hopefully being exposed to the sun will strengthen up the shoots and help the plants rebound. This is my first year growing garlic, so I’m not exactly sure how it will go.

I also found that my rock garden was completely inundated with day lilies. I remembered it having a few lilies, yes, but it turns out the entire back half is covered with them. It’ll be a bigger job that I had planned on to remove them all. I’ll probably just have to remove the rocks and dig the entire garden out–the lilies have been growing there for at least 30 years as well 😛 I may have to give it a pass this year and tackle it next year instead. I already have too many projects right now as it is.

It looks like the plain white Shasta daisies have survived and are thriving. I have at least 6 well-established clumps of them in the long flower garden in the backyard–they are currently the most prominent flower in that garden. The plan is to remove all but, say, two of them–maybe I’ll even move one to my Moon Garden. I should also have a regular purple echinacea and a small pink rose bush in that garden–I found the rose, but not the echinacea as of yet. And, of course, the ubiquitous construction-cone orange day lilies.

(I actually have a few cool red-orange day lilies that I’ll save, but I believe those are all lining the alley–not in the garden itself. I despise the plain bright orange ones–they are everywhere in my neighborhood, and look so boring.)

Finally, the hostas, which up until a few years ago had been ringing an overgrown Eastern Cedar, look like they may finally have died. Hostas are a shade-loving plant, but since the cedar was removed a few years ago due to old age, they’ve had nothing but direct afternoon sun. I’m surprised they’ve lasted this long. In their place, I’m planning on putting some sweet peas and a trellis.

I’ll post phots of the backyard as planting and such progresses, but for now, I’m just happy to have been in the garden.

Seed Sowing, Week of 3/22/21

Another week, another batch of seeds started.

My Swallowtail Seeds order arrived, finally–over 30 days after I ordered it, true, but the website did warn of 5 week delays. So I was finally able to get my Echinaceas planted. My Pinetree Garden Seeds order also arrived, slightly quicker than the Swallowtail Seeds order, and another small order I put in at Johnny’s arrived, all in the same week. So it was a pretty busy week of sowing.

My “Moon Garden” plants are, for the most part, started. I’ll be using the Fleurel dahlia as my centerpiece, with the White Swan echinacea, Snow White malva, Abyssinian Gladiolus (Acidanthera Murielae), and white African daisy in graduated rows leading up to it, and any ranunculus and gladiolus bulbs form my mixes that end up being white, all framed by a moonflower vine. I’ve also got night-blooming jasmine on order, but that’s not set to arrive until late May, so I need to remember to leave some space in the Moon Garden for it as well. All in all, not a bad start for an all- white garden.

Sowing 3/20/21:

Madame Butterfly MixJohnny’s Seeds
Dahlia, Unwins Mix Baker Creek
Dahlia, Redskin Mix Pinetree Seeds
Calendula, Pink Surprise Baker Creek
Calendula, Zeolights Botanical Interests
Lupine, genericJoseph

Sowing 3/24/21:

Amazing Gray PoppyBotanical Interests
Black NasturtiumRH Shumway’s
Peach Melba NasturtiumBotanical Interests
Malva, Snow WhitePinetree Seeds
Rainbow Loveliness Cottage PinksBotanical Interests
Hollyhock, Indian SpringBaker Creek

Sowing 3/26/21:

Dahlia, FleurelDutch Bulbs
ECHINACEA, GREEN TWISTERSwallowtail Seeds
ECHINACEA, WHITE SWANSwallowtail Seeds
SALVIA, ROSE QUEENSwallowtail Seeds
SCABIOSA, FAMA DEEP BLUESwallowtail Seeds
MoonflowerSeed Savers Exchange
Madame Butterfly Bronze w/ WhiteJohnny’s Seeds

Sowing 3/27/21:

Basil, Lettuce LeafBaker Creek
Chamomile, GermanBotanical Interests
Cosmos, Sea ShellsBaker Creek
Swiss Chard, Ruby Red/RhubarbBotanical Interests
Beet, CylindraJohnny’s Seeds
Beet, BolthardyPinetree Garden Seeds
Salanova® Green Sweet CrispJohnny’s Seeds
Salanova® Home Garden MixJohnny’s Seeds
Delphinium, Sky Blue/WhiteSwallowtail Seeds
Hollyhock, NigraTrade Wind Fruit
Genovese BasilBotanical Interests

The reason I start so many seeds is because 1) seeds are cheap, and I’ve already paid for them; and 2) I like to have variety. I’m not sure if I’ll end up planting all of these seedlings in my garden, but I want to have the option to do so. And despite overspending on seeds this year, it’s still cheaper than buying these plants already started from my local garden center (assuming my local garden center even carried all of these varieties, which is unlikely). But, mostly I just need something gardening-related to do right now while I’m housebound and healing.

So far, everything from the 3/20/21 sowing has germinated, and the Amazing Gray poppy from 3/24 has also germinated (poppies seem to germinate very quickly). I reordered the Madame Butterfly Bronze with White because it turns out that I hadn’t ordered the correct variety earlier–I had ordered a Madame Butterfly mix instead. So I will have a ton of snapdragon seedlings to choose from in about two months.

A note on dahlia bulbs: not all dahlia sellers are equal, apparently. The Fleurel bulb I ordered from DutchBulbs.com (again, very early into my dahlia purchasing) was way overpriced, and the bulb I received was clearly dehydrated, with the outer skin peeling off of most of the bulb. I planted it up in a pot anyway, but as of yet, it doesn’t show any signs of life. To be on the safe side, I ordered another Fleurel from Longfield Gardens, which was cheaper and actually includes three bulbs per order rather than just the one Dutchbulbs.com offers. (Also, the customer service at Longfield Gardens is amazing! Quick to respond and very flexible in rearranging my orders.) Once I get all of the bulbs I ordered and have them planted, I’ll write up a comparison of the five companies from whom I ordered dahlia bulbs.

More Live Plants

So, the longer I sit at home waiting for my knee to heal, the more plants I buy. It is what it is.

I’ve picked up more bulbs, some lavender, and even another dahlia (I know, I don’t need any more). Here’s what I’ve got on order so far:

Miscanthus “Encore” (Proven Winners)

Miscanthus “Encore” (Proven Winners)

The Miscanthus is the plant I’m most excited about currently. I never thought I’d be the type to buy ornamental grasses–it’s always seemed too mature and “posh”–but, lo and behold, I am now aware of their many practical benefits.

The fence around my backyard is pretty but impractical. It’s also only a few years old, so I don’t have a really legitimate reason for tearing it down and putting up a more practical one–nor do I have the funds at the moment to do so. The fence is about 3′ high and in the picket fence style, with about 3 or so inches between each vertical slat. It’s pretty, but offers no privacy, and if we ever get a dog that is medium-sized or larger, it’ll be useless. (My parents, the former owners, had a mini dachshund.) As our back fence borders the alleyway, which is well paved and often used by joggers and dog-walkers in the neighborhood, I constantly feel like random strangers are walking through my backyard. it’s highly irritating but I couldn’t figure out how to handle it without spending a bunch of $ on a new fence, which my fiancé would never agree to. Enter ornamental grasses.

I came across the idea of using large ornamental grasses as a hedge while watching “You Can’t Eat the Grass”‘s bulb unboxing the other day–they had bought a different variety for use at their farm. I did some searching on Google and found one I liked–the Encore by Proven Winners 🙂 I have a strip of dirt between the fence and the alley which is currently populated by 30-year-old day lilies which need to get dug out anyway. So, I ordered six of the grasses to plant in that area, which should cover the fence. And it’s grass, so I imagine it’ll grow pretty quickly once they get established. And it is supposed to have really nice fall colors and “winter interest”, which means the breeder recommends not cutting them back until spring, so means that the hedge will last most of the year. Problem solved! Hopefully.

English Lavender–Hidcote

Another plant I picked up is some English Lavender (Hidcote). I haven’t grown much lavender, and the small plant of French lavender I picked up last year I attempted to overwinter on my back deck, thinking it was hardy to my zone. Apparently not. Looking back, I think I was basing this belief on the fact that lavenders definitely overwinter just fine in California, where I lived for 15 years. (Many places in CA have massive lavender and rosemary bushes edging the houses.) Alas, I am no longer in CA and need to deal with Zone 5b limits. So this time I did some research and picked up a few English lavender plants, which are hardy to my zone. I bought them from Michigan Bulbs, a company i’ve never purchased from before, but I had a coupon for free shipping 🙂 and many other online stores are already sold out. The plants are bare root, apparently, but I imagine they should fill out pretty well over the course of the summer.

Also from Michigan Bulb company are some more bulbs:

First, a mixed bag on dwarf Gladiolus bulbs. Dwarf, as I’ve never grown gladiolus and didn’t want to have to mess around with staking yet another type of flower. Next, a mixed bag of Anemones (again, a type of flower that is new to me). Finally, a mixed bag of ranunculus, as I had also ordered most of my ranunculus from Easy to Grow bulbs, and I wasn’t sure of the quality. Looking on Amazon, Easy to Grow is the main seller of ranunculus, and the reviews on the bulbs are pretty bad. (I had bought the bulbs directly through their website, which does not have any reviews.) So I figured the worse thing that will happen is I end up with too many ranunculus bulbs.

Finally, I did pick up another (!) dahlia. And I picked up some more Cafe au Lait tubers, because I realized I spent way too much on it earlier (it was the first dahlia I bought, and I spent like $15 for 1 tuber (!)–which, once I realized what I had done, completely broke my discount-loving heart.) I was so offended by this that I decided the only logical solution to this would be to buy more Cafe au Lait bulbs cheaper somewhere else. Obviously. So I did, but I needed to add more to my order in order to get the free shipping, so… I also picked up a mixed bag of caladiums and the “Melody Pink Allegro” dahlia, because it’s really pretty and pink and I’m a sucker.

Next up on my list of living plants to arrive, I believe, will be the Asparagus crowns from Gurney. Still need to plant my leeks/onions, which I should finally be able to do this weekend, assuming the dr gives me the ok at my appointment tomorrow. I’m thinking that many of these seed/plant companies assume that I have limitless amounts of land or that I’m actually a farmer. I am not. I don’t know what I’m going to do with 10 asparagus crowns–I really only have space for 5 at most, honestly, unless I start planting them in the lawn against the side fence–and the 25 strawberry plants and 25 sweet potato slips on order will likely be too many than I can manage as well. But that’s the size of order that they sell. Already, my local friends are getting inundated with seeds; the same will go for bulbs and live plants, I guess. (I’ve already hit my mom up for some of my dahlias, but as she lives in a condo now, she has much less space and no desire to care for a bunch of plants. 😦 ) But as I’d really rather not grow any of these from seed, my options are limited. There are worse things, I suppose.

Seedling Update 3/20/21

Well, another weekend, another round of planting. Plus it looks like I didn’t put last week’s big planting up. So, a lot to cover today.

Planting 3/13/21 (2 each variety of Bootstrap Farmer’s 2″ pots/trays; Pro Mix w/ Mycorrhizae instead of the Black Gold seedling mix):

Pepper, Alma Paprika (hot)Seed Savers Exchange
Pepper, Aurora (hot, decorative)Seed Savers Exchange
Tomatillo, Grande Rio Verde Botanical Interests
Tomatillo, PurpleBaker Creek
Tomato, Barry’s Crazy CherryBaker Creek
Tomato, CarbonBaker Creek
Tomato, Paul RobesonBaker Creek
Tomato, Sun Gold Pole Cherry Botanical Interests
Tomato, Sun Gold Pole Cherry Hirt’s Gardens
MoonflowerSeed Savers Exchange
Nasturitum, Tip Top AlaskanBaker Creek
Sunflower, ValentineSeed Savers Exchange
Eggplant, Listada de GandiaBotanical Interests
Snap Pea, Magnolia BlossomBaker Creek
Daisy, AfricanBaker Creek

So far, all of these have germinated at this point, though the peppers from Seed Savers have only one seedling each, and they only finally poked out their heads yesterday. Oddly, my both of my sets of Moonflower seedlings geminated on the same day, despite being sown two days apart. (I didn’t soak the first set of seeds, and nicked the second set.) And the tomatillo seedling are long and skinny, moreso than most of the rest of the seedlings. Maybe that’s just they way they look? (They look like really sickly tomato seedlings.) And–miracle of miracles!–all of my nasturtium varieties have now germinated, including the Peach Melba which got recycled into my snap pea potting soil. My Sweet Peas are all at least 6″ tall and my snap peas are not far behind. Currently, the peas are sitting on on the deck, getting acclimated.

Today’s sowing 3/20/21 included just one plant: the Madame Butterfly Bronze snapdragons I ordered from Johnny’s, as I just received them yesterday. Such tiny seeds for such a large plant! These are my absolute favorite of all of the snapdragons I’ve seen displayed on videos and seed catalogues: tall, frilly blooms of coppery-peach edged with white.

Finally, the leeks and onions are still not planted. My friend ended up rescheduling to this weekend, which is probably for the best, because we ended up having 3″ of snow! But they are happily sitting in my cool, dark back hall and should be fine.

Hopefully, by April I should be more mobile and able to perambulate my backyard and get a better idea of where I am going to plant all of the things I’ve ordered over the last two months. It’s getting pretty crowded, as I also picked up another dahlia and a 25-mixed bag of caladium bulbs to replace my mom’s tired old hostas around the deck. And a 25-pack of strawberries….