Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Allure

Part of the allure of gardening is that you can show off to your friends and neighbors that you might actually be good at something in life. Another incitement is that you share a commonality with other folks who like to garden. You share the common purpose of producing food. When I first started gardening on my own, I did what a lot of others still do. I'd go to the greenhouse and purchase my plants. The trouble I ran into was that I didn't need 6 jalapenos or 6 sweet banana pepper plants. I sure didn't need 6 cherry tomato plants. The other thing I noticed was that the greenhouse plants seemed too far along. Most of the time they were root bound in the pack. Of the 6 plants you purchased, about half were healthy to transplant. So what to do? I have a small garden but I still wanted a variety of plants. Maybe one of each I reasoned. So I began starting my own bedding plants and then splitting them up into groups of pepper and tomato plants. That way I could have the different varieties and could control the stage of growth for my planting zone.
 The other enjoyment of gardening is sharing your labors with others. Here is a care package for a fellow gardener that I'm going to deliver today.
There are 6 assorted varieties of pepper plants in the box. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Tomato Time

If you recall, I mentioned that I use tax day as a rule of thumb for starting my tomato plants. I missed by a couple days but last Friday I seeded these to the germination tray. Here are the varieties that I'm planting this year.
Some of the seeds came from Seedman. I purchased these on-line. According to my garden log, back in 2005 I grew First Lady II. I first became acquainted with First Lady tomatoes before the turn of the century. In 1998 according to the log and of course that's when Hillary was our First Lady. So for a while I'd nicknamed them Hillary's tomato. But after 2008 I couldn't find them anymore. Finally this year I found them on-line. So I am growing Michelle's tomato this year.
I seeded them to the tray on 4/17 and on 4/21 they were sprouting.
I will prick them out today to six packs. It's interesting when you find a specific variety that performs well and you really want to keep growing it. Then for some reason it no longer is featured in the seed catalogs or in retail stores. A few years ago you were just out of luck but now with the internet it seems possible to find those lost varieties. In my next post I'll go into that a little deeper. Also in the germination tray is eggplant, basil, and thyme. I may have started the eggplant a little too late. I hope they can catch up.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

First Mowing

We got an early taste of Spring in Southeast Minnesota. The lawn mower started on the first pull so I got my mojo on. But the snow-blower still has gas in it, just in case. I planted some elephant ears and lilies last week. Here are the tulips planted last fall and now getting ready to bloom.

I like to plant tulips in the fall, it gives a Minnesotan a reason to survive the winter. I paid $7.99 for those bulbs dammit, I'm gonna live long enough to see them bloom! And speaking of surviving, I think these two plants are Gloriosa Daisies.

These two made it through a Minnesota winter. I planted the daisies a couple of years ago.  I tried Lavatera here but it bloomed and faded early. So about midsummer I went to the greenhouse and bought the root-bound leftover daisies. They just won't give up, they keep coming back. I'm not sure how they'll fare here, this is where the morning glory grows. We'll see which one is more persistent.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Impatiens Seedlings

My New Guinea Impatiens are coming along and they're showing their first true leaves.
I've also started some Burpee impatiens seeds. But of the 100 New Guinea seeds, so far I have what appear to be 40 viable seedlings. So some simple math - 40% success rate! I will point out that spring planting is a long ways off here in Minnesota. If I achieve 40 transplants by the end of May, I will be happy.

One of the critical factors with impatiens is not to over-water. Just let the growing medium dry out a bit before watering but not to the point that the seedlings topple over. When I water the plants, I spray some water at the edge of each cell and not directly on the seedling.
The Burpee Impatiens are the Walmart variety and I've had pretty successful germination rates with those too.