My rose-scented geraniums are doing very well, ticking over under lights for the winter. In fact, they are doing a bit too well and have set a lot of leafy growth. It's never a good idea to let a ticking-over plant get too vigorous when there's still weeks and weeks ahead before they can be put outdoors for the summer, so it's time to take a whole lot of cuttings.
The wonderful thing about taking cuttings is that you can propagate additional plants. Too many for your porch? Oh what a dreadful problem. I guess you'll have to pass them along to friends...horrors.
Propagating is very easy (and scented geraniums love to grow, so they are really easy to get to "take" on new roots. All you need are a few simple items:
Friday, March 11, 2016
I think it won't be too long before I get to pot these on. Whee!
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
And sometimes, that purpose is for...decoration. While these seeds are grown for their pepitas (pumpkin seed meats) I have visions of making gorgeous jewelry out of them. The edges are sparkly silver, for goodness sake. If that doesn't cry out to be made into earrings, I don't know what does.
*You can find your own packet of Silver Edged Squash seeds at Native Seed Search.*
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Well this year, I decided: they were moving onto the porch. This past weekend, I set up a mini greenhouse (the kind you find for $20 at the local hardware store) and made a couple modifications. I added grow lights ($13 each) and a spare radiator-type heater to keep the temperature above freezing (because it still is chilly on the porch this time of year). I moved the alliums and the brassicae out there, gave them a little misting of water, and hopefully they'll keep ticking over and growing slowly until it's time to plant them out. With any luck, I can get the alliums out in early May (they do just fine even if we get a late snow/heavy frost) and then the cole crops will follow a couple weeks later.
Monday, March 7, 2016
Step outside and you can feel it: the air is lighter, the breezes blow warmer, the ground is that curious mixture of partially frozen and sloppy mud. Spring. Is. Coming.
It's a near weekly event now. Every weekend, I break out my seed compost, my little trays and tiny cups. I make a rummage through my seed drawer and consult my seed starting list. What to start now? Is it time for cabbage, or tomatoes? How about those tricky dahlias? And when to do the leeks, I wonder? When in doubt, I consult my reference books and read back through my garden diary. That diary is a lifesaver. Even though the climate has shifted slowly over the past ten years, its a great reference for what's been started when, and which did well and which failed. It's stopped me from making mistakes and growing things that I absolutely hated (or were pest magnets).
There's nothing like a good diary to help keep the gardening year on track. My preferred version is a week at a glance calendar, spiral bound with plenty of space to write. I must, of course, have one of my perfect gel pens (I buy them in bulk for fear that one day, they'll stop making them) firmly slipped into the spiral binding, ready to jot down notes and observations. I think this year I will start making a note of the daily high and low temperatures. I always forget to do that, and it would be good information to track. Because, at the rate things are changing, who knows where we'll be in the next ten years? Perhaps I'll be sowing hardy banana seeds instead of sea kale...
Saturday, March 5, 2016
As far as experiments go, it's kind of underwhelming at this point. I mean, one less than a centimeter tall green shoot. Whoo. Break out the fireworks. Shazaam.
However, it is entirely possible that beneath the soil, there's major happenings. Perhaps, in the next few days, the soil will heave and MORE shoots will work their way up to the light. Imagine that. The simple majesty of emerging life...
Of course, this may be the only one and the rest have dissolved to gooey rot. Time shall tell. Mean time, I'll be dosing with fresh water and hoping for the best.
Thursday, March 3, 2016
Imagine: this tiny corky seed, designed to bob along on the waves crashing against a rocky coastline, will (with any luck and good germination) grow, one day, to become a two-to-three foot giant edible plant. Ah, the humble sea kale. Eat its leaves, the tender new shoots blanched under a bucket, the flower buds that taste of broccoli, the root that can be boiled and mashed. It's the Superman of the brassicae family. Right now, the seeds--which took me three years to acquire--have been refrigerated, soaked, and filed with an emery board. After all those ministrations, they've been plunged into damp compost and closeted in the Germination Station to bask in the 70 degree heat and (with a little luck) germinate in the next few days.
Sea kale has notoriously sketchy germination, so fingers crossed at least half those seeds will pop and develop into hardy little plants. Once the soil defrosts outside, I'll be digging over the spare bed in the Perennial Veg Corner, adding sand and grit, and a wee bit of compost, and settling in these prehistoric vegetables for a long seven-to-ten year lifespan. I think I'll mulch with rock, too, to mimic their natural seaside habitat. Well, mimic as much as one can mimic the Atlantic coastline in this particular corner of Wisconsin, that is. It's all relative...and hardy plants don't much care. Sun, rain and a bit of compost and all is well in their world. Lucky ducks.