Join us for Cee’s Flower of the Day – 09/29/17
Join us for Cee’s Flower of the Day – 09/29/17
If you ever have bought a flower or tried to start one from seed you know they are a fragile lot. Flaky, persnickety, obstinate or maybe just they like to mock us supposedly “superior” beings. Above you see the best of the process when I was operating my own greenhouse business called The Potter’s Dream. But unseen is the thousands, yes I typed that correctly, thousands of failed plants.
This post is under construction almost ten full seasons past my greenhouse time. My failed experiments are far fewer, but just as frustrating. As I was out taking my miniature Sheltie for a walk this week I thought about this post and collecting the photographs to support it. When you establish the theme or parameters it is amazing how quickly potential photos come to mind.
This is a geranium in distress. I am not knowledgeable enough to tell you exactly what the issue is. I just will try to fertilize and overcome the yellowing. If all else fails I will lift this sickly plant and replace it with another.
In my time as a greenhouse owner I sold thousands of wave petunias. They are so hardy and easy to grow it is a challenge to kill one, but this little guy defied the odds. Again this is one that will be lifted and replaced.
It is a little difficult to make out this photo, but you should see a full stand of lettuce. All I can figure is our lettuce seed is bad. This is the second year I have not been able to achieve sufficient germination of lettuce. We even tried it in the raised bed this time.
After a few years of unfulfilling experiences with tulips and daffodils bought at the big box stores we ordered some bulbs from an actual bulb seller through Amazon. Our daffodils came up early due to the warm winter and were gorgeous ahead of time. Our tulips came up on schedule and all bloomed beautifully except for the one picture which was broken when I accidentally stepped on it when trying to mulch around the bed.
These are the old tulips and daffodils that produce greenery only. It is disappointing after a long winter with no color to see this greenery emerge, but never achieve any kind of blooming. I have consulted with another experienced grower and have a plant o try to rectify the non-blooming habits.
These two photos should be flats full of tomato seedlings. I will tell you that in the days since I took the top phot I have seen about a dozen seedlings emerge. Being April 17 however, they are seriously delayed. I wanted them to be the size they are now at least a month ago!
This photo shows a failed cucumber seedling attempt. Actually about five days earlier this [pot was full of about two dozen nice looking seedlings. Then the weather changed and we decided to not take chances, but move the most tender of plants inside for three days. The cucumbers did not adapt well and now we have only three or four living seedlings. Thankfully it does not take long to germinate cucumbers, so I will try again soon.
That is my unfulfilled promise candidates for now. I am sure more will find their way to my lens soon!
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.
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!
This is part of a monthly opportunity to take photos reflecting the progress of your gardening adventures over the past thirty or thirty-one days depending on the length of the month. Depending on your climate this may be quite a bit of growth or none at all. For me it is at the cusp of summer and a lot of growth is happening. So sit back, relax and let me show you what we are enjoying these days. Oh and this is hosted by Helen Johnstone at The Patient Gardener.
In my climate zone the middle of May is the time we can finally put our annuals outside without fear of frost damage. I had to hold off an extra few days this time around as May 10th is usually the bench mark, but we had frost early on the morning of the 13th, meaning it was the 17th before I finally felt free to move things outdoors.
Above you see another window box outside the window of my wife’s hair salon on an eastern facing window where the Gerbers will not have to endure full sun conditions. There is also some trailing Verbena to help fill out the box.
Here is two large clumps of Wild Geranium and a smaller one of a different variety on the back side of the pansies that line the retaining wall outside the hair salon. Although you cannot see it, their are seed pods developing now.
This is a new type of Dianthus (perennial variety) we added this year. It is just beginning to bloom.
Our Dahlias are slow to emerge, but are beginning to show themselves. We love to cut these and make fresh arrangements throughout the late summer blooming period.
This is our first time trying a raised bed for anything. After having such terrible fortune with tomatoes succumbing to blight we wanted to give this a shot.
The sporadic moisture throughout April and May have caused everything to grow sluggishly. We finally replanted beans after waiting as long as we felt we could for the first seeds to sprout.
The bed on the left was re-mulched and has many blooms that will come either late in June or early in July. The bed on the right has mainly hostas, with a new butterfly bush in the rear that may take a while to be seen.
If you zoom in on this picture you will notice the freshly planted Gerber Daisies. Usually when the heat comes the pansies die back, but we worked really hard to get this new variety of Wave Pansies established and they continue to thrive.
This is another place we worked really hard to get the Wave Pansies established, planting them last fall. Usually by now we have Geraniums in place, but the pansies still are hanging tough.
This is a long term project, a flower bed on a steep bank I don’t want to have to struggle to keep mowed. Right now it has Wild Geraniums, Japanese Iris, Gazanias, Cosmos and a few Wave Pansies. I hope by the next EOMV it will show much more color.
Tell me what you think fellow EOMV contributors!
One of the ways we like to enjoy our flowers is by inserting them in some large window boxes that are mounted on the west side of our home. We have a brick ranch house, which means the western facing sun heats up the brick during the day and they will radiate heat even after the sun goes down. Usually the boxes do really well as long as you keep them watered regularly.
Usually we have geraniums, wave petunias and another type of trailing flower combined to fill out these larger containers. The issue we run into in most cases is that the plants get rootbound and begin to look tired and less vibrant by the end of July. I want this year to take the plants out during the first weeks of July and cut off much of the root system to try to invigorate the whole window box.
At first we began with second year geraniums we had pulled out of the window boxes and hung up downstairs in the basement where they could overwinter successfully. To look at these now you would be amazed at how quickly and beautifully they have grown, but in the first weeks they did not seem so robust, causing us to change plans and insert new geraniums we purchased from our favorite local greenhouse.
Normally we will pull these window boxes out after the tenth of May and put them in place, but on May 13 th we had a cold night and frost, which would have severely damaged and possibly killed the plants if exposed. We patiently waited a few more days and finally got our chance on May 17th to get these in place. This was too close for comfort as we were readying for a four child graduation party and this detail was expected to be done long before this date.
But, not to be outdone the second year geraniums had caught up and had their own coming out day.
We also have another window box that is mounted outside the window of my wife’s hair salon. This window box holds Gerber Daisies and trailing Verbena.
The window boxes give us another way to enjoy our plants and are always a highlight of our planting experience.
My Favorite Plant that starts with a G is a garden stalwart preferred by gardeners for generations. It is a type of plant that is not particularly showy in the beginning, but as it grows and develops the blooms are quite spectacular. When i owned my greenhouse we had several varieties of Geraniums. In fact when you get into the business you realize there are as many varieties as you can imagine.
Most plants have a base variety or color. But to broaden the potential for sales the breeders of the plants will experiment with the plants to try to create either a stronger or different color variant of the family. The most demanded color was a bright red. We chose these for a few years in our own window boxes.
We tried white, salmon, pink and many other color combinations with varyin g degrees of success. Invariably red was the star of the Geranium family. However we did stumble across a different variant that quickly became out favorite and that of our customers. It was called a Confetti Geranium and every time it bloomed you got a different display.