Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Growing from Seeds Update March 23, 2011

Winter came back for few days!
Things are moving quite fast on our seedlings front.
The Lobelias were transplanted from cells into 3” pots; now we have 15 pots that could have been divided easily into 50 pots. My hand was a bit heavy when I spread the seeds, I guess. Lesson learned.

Cosmos have new home and doing very well and so do Petunias, Zinnia, Red Millet and Black Eyed Susan Vine. The Snapdragons slowed down in their growth for some reason but are healthy.
Snapdragons and Zinnias

Black Eyed Susan Vine, Red Millet and Cosmos

 I wrote about my little Snapdragon experiment before but I have to post an update. Few weeks ago I snipped the top of one plant to force it into branching. Instead of throwing the 3/8” long tip in the garbage I dipped it in growth hormone powder and planted it in a Jiffy Pot.  Last week I have notice roots growing through the pot sides. It penetrated the sock! I am sure that If I clip same plant and repeat the process I could grow hundreds of Snapdragons from one seed! Amazing, isn’t it?

Anyway, this plant will join its mother and rest of seedlings in a hanging basket.

Arugula and French Tarragon
Some tomatoes were also transplanted and so were some peppers and all eggplants. Things are looking good.

Crazy Spring Weather!

Even though we were expecting it because of weather forecast, it was still a bit of a shock! Yesterday, I was raking the lawn and this morning the same spot was covered by 4” of snow! What a bummer! On top of it, yesterday we went to golf course and talked to the owner and he was expecting to open in three days. Not very likely now, is it?
Following two pictures were shot only 16 hours apart.

Anyway, with all the trees and shrubs covered in wet snow I got a chance to take some nice flash pictures in the dark. They came out OK, I think. You’ll be the judge.

This was taken at 6:30 AM with manual flash and all manual settings on camera. The point of light at top of Norway Fir is street light. A the top is almost full moon partially covered by low clouds.

I shot this frame on monochrome setting. You can see reflection of flash in neighbor's window. Easy to fix in Photoshop.

Snow is a good sculptor. There are two faces at bottom right and what looks like Homer Simpson at top, fifth plank from left.
I am going to have fun with this camera!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Garden and Regular Crazy Spring Weather

Yesterday it was such a nice day to work in the garden. Nice sunny day and it was warm, 17 °C.
 I even went shopping for mulch in my shorts and short sleeve shirt. Then it turned cold and extremely windy. So windy that my BBQ plans got trashed. Still, it was nice to have a preview of things to come. It is amazing how fast some plants react to warmer weather. There is one nice plant that is all light yellow green, including the flower, that Marjo calls Helleborus Lenten Rose.  It is now in a full bloom!
Also, I have planted garlic bulbils that I have discovered in paper bag, sprouting. I gave them a soak of water overnight and hope to have some garlic shoots in few weeks, 2 months maximum. Next to bulbils I have planted red-green scallions. Interesting plant: it is a green onion that has a red bulb and rest is green. I had it last year and it tastes just like regular green onion but is more attractive.
Marjo is very happy that all Heuchera plants survived the winter and rabbit attacks. Last year the rabbits decimated the flowers. They just cut them and left them on ground. We need some foxes around here.
Now I have to turn my attention to lawn. We started raking the thatch this afternoon but it was too cold to finish the job. Maybe Monday. Then I have to get it rolled because it is so bumpy, again. Never ending job that lawn is!
And, what would middle of March be without American Robins attacking our sun room door and windows. They are so persistent and it looks like most of our neighbors have the same problem. There is no point in washing the windows and doors during Spring Cleanup until robins are nesting. It is amazing how high they jump and leave marks with their feet and wings.
Spring is here, no question about it!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Growing from Seeds Update March 16, 2011

Spring is almost here, judging by arrival of American Robins, Grackles and Turkey Vultures and hundreds of Tundra Swans going south.
Our seedlings are doing really well. Soon, I will transplant Zinnias, Cosmos, Lobelias, Petunias and Pearl Purple Millet from cells to larger individual containers where they stay till transplanted permanently into containers or ground. Also, 2 days ago I came across French Tarragon that I have overwintered in our unheated garage and it was looking all dried up. I removed all dead growth all the way to soil level and put it in a bucket of water. Next morning I couldn’t believe how fast it woke up and how much it grew in just few hours!

My tomatoes, peppers and eggplants are also doing well. They all had excellent germination rate. Tomorrow I will move my bonsai Juniper from cold frame into a pot and in its place I will plant snow peas and sugar snap peas and see what will happen. Last year I have planted them way too late.

Outside in garden the crocuses are about 1” high and so are tulips. Yup, Spring is here now, not almost!

Bougainvillea is back to its old tricks.

After we have cut back the plant into bonsai shape and size and before we have repotted it, our Bougainvillea went through very predictable cycles beginning with having only leaves followed by losing some leaves and starting to flower. Then it would loose all the leaves, this scared us first time it happened, and open hundreds of pinkish red flowers. It would be in flower for a very long time. Gradually the plant will start loosing flowers and small pale green leaves start appearing. Eventually the leaves will displace all the flowers and Bougainvillea will become a regular tree. Shortly after the cycle starts all over again. After re-potting it has changed the usual cycle completely, it had a large leaves and flowers all at the same time and for a long period of time. Then about a week ago it started to revert back to regular cycles. Right now it has lost almost all the leaves and started to grow lots of flowers. The leaves fell very quickly, it took only 3 days. I have read somewhere that they are in full bloom around spring and fall Equinox, and this is our experience as well. However, I think that it will not be in full bloom for another 2 weeks or so.
It is a very interesting plant with unusual cycle. I will update every major change.

Right now, there are dozens of these small flower clusters.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Growing from Seeds Update March 9, 2011

All is fine and well with maybe one exception: the trailing snapdragons that I have transplanted to hanging basket pot are growing a lot slower then snapdragons transplanted into 3” and 4” individual pots. These are same seeds but growing really fast. Also, all seeds planted into 1-1/2” cells in 9 packs are doing very well. Next year all my plants will be started in these cells or, as I have just learned, using winter sowing method in soft drink bottles and left outside. I think that I will run it as a parallel experiment.
Here is a pictorial story.

Two weeks ago I snipped top of one trailing snapdragon and decided to do small experiment. I soaked one Jiffy pot, dipped the stem of snipped top into a growth powder, made small hole in pot, pushed it in and pushed the peat moss in to close the hole. Since then I just kept it moist and it doubled in size in 10 days! Do you think it will survive?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Peach Tree Got Some Serious Trim

After procrastinating for last 2 years I have finely pruned our super productive Peach Reliance (Prunus persica). What a job it was! It is not the physical aspect of it but deciding what to cut and how far to cut. In the beginning I took it slowly; you can always cut more but once it is cut, that’s it. In the end we liked the result. I figured that the wood I cut would have produced at least a bushel of peaches. The loss of peaches for this season doesn’t bother me since we gave most of the fruits to our neighbors anyway. I am just anxious to see what the tree will look like once the leaves are out. Now I have to find out how to heal the cut wood of one branch that is a bit rugged and slightly split. I don’t want any disease to get into the wood and possible kill the branch or even the whole tree. It is high time to get some advice from Garden Web.

I figured that the wood I cut would have produced at least a bushel of peaches.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

First Sure Sign Spring is Around Corner

This morning we saw our first American Robin sitting in a neighbors tree, eating berries and singing! Yesterday, about 95% of our lawn was green but when I looked outside at 6:30 this morning it was blanketed with 3” of snow. What a nasty welcome for these harbingers of spring. Neighbor told me that he saw about 6 of them in his bushes last Friday, March 4th. This made my day!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Growing from seeds update.

Last 2 weeks have been very busy and full of surprises, most of them good. Actually, I had only 2 bad surprises, both involving trailing snapdragons. 1st was discovery of damaged leaves; they looked like something was eating them. Problem solved after I have sprayed with horticultural spray about a week ago and they look terrific. Second, after reading posts about Jiffy pots on Garden Web, was realization that I could have left the sock on my snappies when I transplanted them into hanging basket. That could have spelled death to seedlings. I poked around and sure enough, they were still there. All pots were carefully removed, sock removed and replanted in same basket. I’m happy to say that 5 days later they are looking pretty good.

Here is picture of my leftover snapdragons. I will make a mixed baskets with them.
Very positive surprise was Lobelia that was supposed to take 20 days to germinate and to my shock I saw first green fuzz on 5th day! Here is a picture of what hey look like on day 7. I might see flowers come end of May after all.
Zinnia was another early germinating plant, 4 days only. Both were on a heat mat set at 29 °C. They are now in a cooler part of tray, replaced by peppers and eggplants. They like it hot J.
Salpiglossis were another surprise. They germinated after 8 days, first 4 in dark and then under light. The packet said to keep in dark but last year it didn’t work for me so I planted another batch, under lights and they all germinated. This year I went half and half just to see what happens and it worked. Go figure.
 The Thunbergia (Black Eyed Suzan Vine) is a mixed bag. Even though they germinated in half time listed the rate was only 44% - only 4 out of 9 seeds planted, but they do well and 4 plants is just about all I will need. No spares for neighbors this year.
Not a bad week. Now I’ll wait for peppers and eggplants.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Snapdragon Leaves are being eaten – need advice!

This is a copy of a message I have posted on Growing from Seeds Forum on GardenWeb.

Three days ago I have noticed white spots on some top leafs of my repotted snapdragon seedlings.  The spots grew every day so I have snipped the tops. They were supposed to be snipped anyway, so no damage there. I have put the leaves under stereoscope and took some shots with my point-and-shoot camera and to my surprise it does show some detail.
Question: what can I use to stop the pests from spreading and will horticultural oil spray or applied with q-tips kill the mites or whatever is eating my plants.
I need help, I don’t want to loose them!!!!

View through stereoscope.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Is it time to prune a peach tree in 6a zone?

This is a copy of a message I have posted on Fruit and Orchard Forum on GardenWeb.

We still have a lot of snow on ground but I don’t want to mess up with pruning and spraying this year. Can somebody help me and tell me how much and where to prune? I know that all branches that cross each other should be pruned but how much and what else? I will post pictures on my blog.
Last year I couldn’t spray because if it wasn’t windy it was raining. Still, I had an excellent crop despite leaf curl. I need help with downsizing that tree!  
Where and how much to prune?

Monthly Garden Update – March 1st

Everything is more or less on schedule with some surprises. Lobelia has germinated after 2 weeks even though the packet says 20 days. I do grow it under lights (16 hours a day) and on heat mat at 28°C. Petunias and Zinnia have also germinated but I am still waiting for Salpiglossis and Nasturtium. I have no idea what I’m doing wrong. The Painted Tongue (Salpiglossis) really baffle me a bit. The packet and catalog says grow in dark but last year I just sprinkled seeds on top and they have germinated in about 10 days. This morning first seedling Black Eye Susan Vine is about 1/4” above soil (planted Feb. 14).
Snapdragons Lampion (trailing) and Rocket (upright):
All seedlings are doing well. However, I have noticed that 2 seedlings in hanging basket had a leaf damage, some sort of insect was sucking on top leaves so I just snipped the tips off. After all, I was suppose to snip the tops to encourage branching. I’ll wait few days before I snip the other 3 seedlings. One thing I have noticed is that 4 seedlings have a distinctly different shape of leaves. My guess is, that since this is a mix, that there will be 4 different colors. I am so anxious to see them in bloom!
Snapdragons progress.
Rest of Snapdragons and Zinnia seedlings

Arugula germinated in 2 days and grows like a weed. I can't wait to harvest it for my sandwich.