Category Archives: Begonias

Spring is Coming – Part 2

Ah spring. The time for projects. I love projects. I love improving our spread as I enjoy spending time in the great outdoors. We also enjoy gardening. As an extension about 17 years ago we built a 12 x 16 foot greenhouse. Within this greenhouse we can initiate an early start to spring by giving our plants an environment where they can grow as if it was June.

One of the favorite ways to provide this head start is to purchase the items we want in our window boxes early and insert them in the window boxes 7-9 weeks ahead of the last frost date when we can actually bring the window boxes out to enjoy. Allowing the plants to grow their roots with this head start means when we bring them out in May they are healthy and thriving.


You may not think these are growing that much, but if you click Spring is Coming Part 1 you will see there has been some definite growth.

One of our challenges where we live is that I have acres of  farm land on three sides of my property. This is a great thing for many reasons. But one negative is that the wild life is thick and willing to come and take as they please. We have battled rabbits and groundhogs for years as we attempt to raise a garden. Up until the last few years we have been able to win this epic struggle. But lately the critters are the only ones getting fat on our vegetables.

After the success of our new raised bed where we grew tomatoes we decided to expand our alternative growing method with a long raised bed to house our bush beans. Long ago we introduced our family to a type of bush bean called Tenderettes. After nearly two decades of enjoyment my family truly prefers the ones we grow and can. But if you cannot control the rodents there is nothing to enjoy.  Enter the new raised bed.


Now I will share the complicating factor. As life goes there can be situations that make you rethink your plans. After hauling two loads of ground compost to half fill our raised bed I ran into issues with my truck. Now I am scrambling to work out an alternative way. Thankfully we are up to four weeks away from the safe time as far as last frost before we can plant so I have considerable wiggle room.

You can see there is a black landscape fabric flanking this bed. While I am working out the alternative method to fill the long raised bed I will be using one of my favorite tools, my Kubota tractor to dump wood chips on the fabric to eliminate the need to cut the grass that would grow up around the bed. By taking this out of the equation I don’t have to be concerned about cut grass drifting into the bed and starting weeds.

Another alternative vegetable growing plan we have in progress actually came from a video we enjoyed courtesy of Facebook. We like to grow and enjoy potatoes. Specifically we enjoy the small or “new” potatoes. Aren’t all potatoes new you ask? Well yes, but what I mean is young potatoes with a very thin skin. Basically the idea is to take a pot and cut four openings in it. Then you slip it inside another pot of the same size, fill to about 1/3 depth, place seed potatoes in the soil, cover the seed potatoes, water and let them grow. Then as the green shoots of the potatoes grow you cover them repeatedly until you have filled the pot. After three months you lift the pot with the sections cut out and harvest your crop. I made pictures as I created this for your enjoyment.

For the past few years we have selected a specific type of potting soil sold by Miracle Grow. We learned almost a decade and a half ago how important it is to have a base soli for new plants that does not pack down like the garden soil at our home. Tender roots respond so much better to this loose mix. The particular type we choose to employ is called Moisture Control. The selling point is that it is designed to keep the moisture content as close to optimal as possible. Of course that does not mean you can avoid watering, but that if you water frequently the soil will help maximize the effectiveness.


We have several plantings of daffodils and tulips in our yard that are perennial disappointments. Apparently they are not hardy enough to withstand the wildly varying ups and downs of temperatures here in the mountains of Southwestern end of Virginia. As a result we ordered a new batch of supposedly “hardier” daffodils and tulips and dug out a new bed for them. The daffodils are pictures in Spring is Coming Part 1 and now the tulips are showing their colors.


My last addition to this post is in the form of photos of some trees I grafted during a county extension service class last week. At my home place, meaning where I grew up, their is this 4o year old “Early Harvest” apple tree. It is a yellow apple that is ripe at the first of July and cooks down into almost an apple sauce. I have wanted to graft some scions off of it for years and finally accomplished the first part of the process during this class. In all I grafted seven trees: four of the Early Harvest, a Rambo, a Gala and a Cortland. I won’t know for a little bit if any or all of them will successfully graft, but check back here for updates.


As I said in the beginning of this post I love projects. Even now as I realize the completion of some projects even more are dotting my radar. This past Saturday I enjoyed a day in which the Fitbit strapped to my arm recorded 28,636 steps. Five days a week I am held down to a chair by my job as a computer software tester, so when I get a chance to head outside I always have a plan in mind. I hope you will be looking for Spring is Coming part 3 where I will update you on all these activities and maybe some new ones.




Spring is Coming – Part 1

Now I am sure spring is coming very soon. It is not just because the calendar says we are officially into the season. For sure the thought that spring should be starting is a big help, but the matter that gives me hope is that we put the first plants in our greenhouse yesterday. Once upon a time, when I operated a full scale greenhouse business this date would be much earlier, but since we are only growing our own plants it has to be a bit later in the winter.


In case you cannot see the plants they are zonal geraniums. We bought them at a local greenhouse where we always get our plants. Yes, they are young, but by putting them in our window boxes now we can grow them faster and bigger with a specific feeding regimen. Also the 12 x 16 greenhouse we use heats up quick meaning the osil temperature will rise and help with the growing process.

Even though these plants look small they have some nice roots on them. I fished my phone out of my pocket to snap a photo to share with you. Here you can see the roots reaching toward the bottom of the four inch square pot we bought them in.


We also picked up another couple of plants, a pink Mandevilla.


And a Non-Stop Begonia.


We also have two small pots with the left over tulips from our new bulb garden. I had them hanging on the coat rack leading to our basement an noticed they had begun to sprout in mid-January, so I did not want them to go to waste.


I Intend to share photos of the plants as they grow over the next few weeks and invite you back to check the progress. I also plan to get tomato seeds in the dirt in the next two or three days so they will be ready when the last threat of frost is past. Unfortunately that may be a bit dodgy this year as we had thunder on February 28th. According to legend if you have thunder on a day in February you will see frost on that day in May. Usually we try to plant tomatoes by mid-May. I suppose we will make that determination when we see how the weather arrives.

In Spring is Coming Part 2, I will show you our new 32 foot raised bed intended to grow green beans out of the reach of our vegetable loving rodent neighbors!





2015 A to Z My Favorite Plants -B -Begonias

Welcome back to day 2 of the 2015 A to Z Challenge. Today will be a favorite flower of mine that starts with the letter B, Begonia. In particular I want to share a type of Begonia that was a star during the five years I owned and operated a greenhouse business. When you decide which plants to offer you must keep in mind all settings and flower types to appeal to as many potential customers as possible.

The type of begonia I am featuring is something called a Non-Stop Begonia. It is a step further than the average begonias that are the traditional bedding plant. The bedding plant variety are heat tolerant and can be exposed to full sun and take a small amount of moisture to strive.

These flowers are so gorgeous and will reward you with beautiful blooms all summer and into the fall if you take proper care of them. Unlike the bedding plants of the family these will not thrive in the sun. They are definitely full shade or early morning sun plants.