Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Helpful Garden Tips

Did you ever lose track of what seeds you have planted in your cell trays? If you have kids you may know what I mean. :) There's an easy was of keeping track without needing scrap paper or plant markers. Sharpie makes metallic permanent markers. List what is in each cell on the side of the tray. I have an example below.

If you are looking for an inexpensive way to make plant markers you're in luck. Take an old plastic milk carton. Cut it in across the center. Cut out vertical rectangles each time you need a new marker.

Parsley. Notoriously slow germinator....unless you try this. Dampen a paper towel. Place a layer of seeds on it. Fold it up, place in an unsealed Ziploc in a windowsill. In just a few days your seeds will start to germinate. Once you see signs of life take each individual seed and place it in its new home. If you forgot to check on your seeds and the new growth has started to imbed itself into the paper towel just cut out that section and keep the paper towel attached. It will decompose. Cover your newly germinated seeds with a fine layer of seed starter mix and water with a spray bottle. You'll have plenty of parsley for you and the black swallowtails in no time. Here's my parsley that was planted on February 6th. This technique is great for all kinds of difficult to germinate seeds and the really tiny ones!

Garden Project for Kids

Last night my son and I painted our own terra cotta flower pots. Not only was the activity a lot of fun, but relatively inexpensive as well. We each painted our pots and adhered stickers or a cutting from wrapping paper to the pot. We finished with a spraying of Shellac...the most expensive part of the project. Here they are!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Venturing into the World of Heirlooms

This season is bound to be an exciting...and hopefully tasty one. Most of the seeds have been planted and are under lights. I thought I would first start by listing some of the main crops I am growing this year.

Tomatoes - One of each unless otherwise noted.
Black Krim
Celebrity (a hybrid)
Cherokee Green
Cherokee Purple
Constoluto Genovese
Cowlick's Brandywine
Gold Nugget
Opalka...three of them
Sandul Moldovan

Fat n' Sassy Bell Peppers (a hybrid)
Anaheim Chili Peppers (still waiting on my order of seeds)
Mucho Nacho Jalapenos (a hybrid)

Bush Sugar Baby watermelon
Minnesota Midget muskmelon (still waiting on my order for seed for these also)
Bit O'Honey muskmelon (keeping my fingers crossed on finding seed for this melon. It is commercially extinct, but still alive with some Seed Savers Exchange members.)

Garlic - My first time growing garlic. It was planted in mid-October and is already up and growing for the season. They are all currently 3-4 inches tall. They somehow survived the squirrels relentless digging and occasional replanting.
Chesnok Red
German Hardy White
Killarney Red
Silver Rose
Spanish Roja

In my new raised beds I will be growing the following:
'Little Gem' romaine lettuce
'Jericho' romaine lettuce
'Tango' celery
'Cherry Belle' radishes
'Scarlet Nantes' carrots

I have removed a nice section of lawn to be designated as a new butterfly/hummingbird garden. Just off to the side of my back porch, it will be filled with nectar and host plants for my winged visitors. Seeds that I have or will be starting for this garden are as follows:

'Torch' mexican sunflower
'Lady in Red' and 'Coral Nymph' Salvia coccinea
'Moss Curled' parsley - *host plant for black swallowtails
'Butterfly Mix' pentas
'Queen Mix' cleome
An unknown tall zinnia mix
'Will Rogers' Zinnia

This year other changes will be occurring with the perennials. New cultivars will be going in. Old ones may have a meeting with the composter. Just to list a few:

Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm' - great bloomer, terrible for attracting butterflies. It will be replaced with Gloriosa Daisies.

I am adding the following:
'Raspberry Wine' monarda
'Huskers Red' penstemon
'Lady Emma Hamilton' David Austin Shrub Rose- yellow and apricot blooms, dark foliage
'Golden Zest' Shrub Rose - lemon scented- Can't wait to smell this one!
'Sunshine Blue' caryopteris - I'm hoping the bees and butterflies will love this one!

Well, there's an overview of the main things going on in the garden this year. Stay tuned. Pictures will be up soon.