Garden

Reasons to Start Your Own Seeds

 

It is the time of year to start thinking about starting seeds

for this summer’s garden.

What are some of the reasons why you should start your own seeds?

  1. More choice of variety.  With the variety of seed choices, mainly through seed catalogs-see here– the choices are almost endless.  Nurseries, greenhouses and big stores mainly sell starter plants and seeds of the most common, familiar, and tried and true varieties. There is nothing wrong with the old tried and true varieties, that is why they are sold year after year, but there are so many more varieties to try.  By ordering your seeds, you are not stuck with the small choice of varieties.
  2. More plants for less money. Most seed packets contain 30 or more seeds, and it is much more economical than a 4 or 6 pack of bought starter plants. This point needs qualifying-the initial cost will be greater.  You will need certain supplies to begin with, but these are mostly 1 time expenses.  Once you have these items, the main yearly cost is mostly just the seeds and soil.
  3. Seeds can be started for the proper and extended planting times in your area.  You can start seeds earlier than usual if you want to plant out early if you have the proper season extending covers, or seeds can be started later for an extended fall and winter harvest.  It is nearly impossible to find starter plants to buy in mid to late summer for a fall and winter harvest.
  4. Seeds can be saved from year to year, and varieties can become custom to your locale. By saving seeds from plants that display certain traits that you desire, such a bigger size, different color or taste, or better disease or pest resistance, or just in general do well for you, you can eventually end up with a custom variety well suited to your specific growing area.  This is how many of the heirloom varieties have come about, they have been saved and passed down through the years.
  5. You can control how the seedlings are grown in regards to watering, fertilizing, and thinning.  Actually there is very little thinning needed if you start your own seeds as you control how they are planted.
  6. The crowds are avoided in the spring planting rush.  I am always amazed at the frantic folks buying their starter plants and rushing to get them planted in the short planting window.
  7. You won’t be disappointed when many of the starter plants are sold out  You won’t be left planting what you really didn’t want because what you wanted was sold out.
  8. You can experience the fun, excitement, and enjoyment of gardening while it is still winter outside.  What better way to spend part of your days stuck inside-watering, tending, and watching green, growing things.

Let the planting begin!

Do you start you own seeds?

*

Hebrew 12:15

See to it that no one misses the grace of God

and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

 

 

Garden

Winter Winds

Wild winds

come a-blustering,

Clearing a path

for the feet of Spring,

To dance her way

along the lane,

Bringing

daffodils

again.

Patience Strong

These last few days we have been battered with the worst winds that I can remember.

Trees down, power outages.

Winter is going out with a bang.

The first month of Spring will soon arrive, and none too soon!

I am so ready for Spring to dance it’s way in.

I am tired of being cold!

Are you ready for Winter to be over?

*

Psalm 40:3

And He put a new song in my mouth,

a song of praise to our God.

 

Garden

Growing Amaryllis

 

Say hello to Amaryllis!

Amaryllis bulbs are such a fun thing to grow in these long winter days.

I purchased pre-potted amaryllis bulbs this year, gifting some of them to my daughter and daughter-in-laws for Christmas, and keeping a few for myself.  I thought that my Sunday School class would enjoy growing a bulb, and took one into class.  The children enjoyed watering it and watching it grow-amaryllis bulbs shoot up very fast-and it bloomed prolifically, much to our joy.

Lovely pink and cream blossoms.

We were out of town for a week and

my sweet Sunday School scholar, Rachel,

faithfully watered and tended to the bulb while we were gone.

It bloomed so beautifully for us!

We also grow 2 jade plants in our class.

They are hard to kill!

Growing Amaryllis

  • Amaryllis are very easy to grow.
  • Amaryllis bulbs can usually be purchased from the big stores, already potted up.  This is the easiest way to start them.
  • If you have bare bulbs, plant them in a pot of good potting soil, leaving the top 1/3 of the bulb exposed.
  • Keep the soil barely moist-about 1/4 cup of water per week, until growth begins.
  • They like a cool room-60-65 degrees.  (This is probably why our Sunday School bulb bloomed so beautifully!)
  • Keep in bright, indirect sun.
  • Use a pot that is 6-8 inches and is heavy.  The stalks can grow quite tall and when it blooms it can become top heavy.
  • The bigger the bulb, the better.
  • Amaryllis should bloom 6-8 weeks after planting.  My bloomed much earlier.
  • The bloom time should last a few weeks.  Dead head the spent blooms to keep tidy.
  • After it is done blooming, cut back the flowing stalk.
  • Continue to water and fertilize, the bulb will continue to grow its leaves.  The leaves need to grow to feed the bulb for re-blooming.
  • When the danger of frost has passed, the amaryllis can be placed outside.  It can be left in its original pot if it has drainage holes. If there are no drainage holes, the bulb will rot.  The bulb can also be planted out in the flower garden where the foliage can be enjoyed.
  • At the end of summer, quit watering and let the foliage die back.
  • Store the bulb in a cool, dark place for at least 8 weeks to let it rest.
  • After it’s rest, you can re-pot the bulb in fresh soil, and begin watering again.  It should re-bloom for you in 6-8 weeks.

Have you ever grown an amaryllis bulb?

*

Matthew 6:34

Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow;

for tomorrow will care for itself.

 

 

 

Garden · Uncategorized

In Concern of Spring

 

In Concern of Spring

I wonder if the sap is stirring yet,

If wintery birds are dreaming of a mate,

If frozen snowdrops feel as yet the sun

And crocus fires are kindling one by one:

Sing Robin, Sing!

I still am sore in doubt concerning Spring!

Christina Rossetti

*

Winter still has a grip on us-cold, snowy, windy, icy, all the things that accompany these winter months.

Spring seems so far away, though, in reality, I know that spring will ‘spring’ upon us before we know it….

and I will be behind, as usual.

The ground outside is dead and lifeless, or so it seems,

though I know the growing things are stirring underneath this snow and ice.

(See my winter surprise HERE)

And just because I am missing the wonderful color

and the growing of the spring and summer months….

I am so enjoying the growing of Amaryllis indoors.

Do you grow anything indoors during the winter?

*

Romans 8:14

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”

 

 

Garden

Seed Catalogs

The seed catalogs have arrived.

(They actually began arriving before Christmas.)

The stores now also have a great supply of seeds.

I tell ya, seeing all of these seeds makes me anxious for spring growing!

Perusing the seed catalogs and dreaming of the beautiful garden you will have this year is a great way to spend some of this time while you are stuck inside because of the cold and snow.

Some of the seed companies that provide catalogs (both paper and on-line) are:

  • Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  http://www.Rareseeds.com.  This catalog is the premier dream of seed catalogs.  The photos are gorgeous, the information is plentiful, it is full of interesting stories and the selection beyond compare.
  • Pinetree Garden Seeds.  http://www.superseeds.com.  A great catalog.  I have ordered from them for many years.  The prices are good, and they have a nice selection of garden related books and soapmaking supplies.  For those that don’t have a lot of room to grow many different varieties, they have custom mixes of seeds that let you grow a variety from 1 packet.
  • Territorial Seed Company.  http://www.TerritorialSeed.com.  A lovely catalog with a big selection.  Also have beneficial insects.
  • John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds. http://www.kitchengardenseeds.com.
  • Totally Tomatoes.  http://www.totallytomao.com.  This catalog is devoted to the avid tomato grower, and also includes a nice selection of other garden seeds.  A must if you love tomatoes!
  • Vermont Bean seed Company.  http://www.vermontbean.com.  This catalog is devoted to the bean lover, they have every kind of fresh and dried bean seed, plus other vegetable garden seeds.   Wish I had more room to grow!
  • Jung Seeds and Plants.  http://www.Jungseed.com.  A great catalog of seeds, perennial plants, fruits and berries.
  • R.H. Shumway.  http://www.rhshumway.com.  An old fashioned style of catalog.  Free seeds if you order before March 15!
  • Johnny’s Selected Seeds.  http://www.Johnnyseeds.com.  A great catalog with a huge selection.
  • Gurney’s Seed and Nursery.  http://www.Gurneys.com.  Seeds, perennial plants, berry plants, fruit, nut and shade trees.  1/2 off till March 6th!
  • Farmer Seed and Nursery. http://www.FarmerSeed.com.  They have been around for 131 years.
  • Burgess Seed and Plant.  http://www.eburgess.com.  They have been in business for 107 years.  They are advertising a 1/2 price vegetable seed sampler that includes 12 packets of the most common vegetables grown in the home garden for $6.99.  That is a good deal.
  • Burpee.  http://www.burpee.com.  A nice selection of good growing seeds and plants.  I no longer order from them as they sell their seeds at Wal Mart.

There are many more seed catalogs out there, but these are the ones that I have ordered from and have been happy with.

Do you order your seeds from catalogs?

Happy garden dreaming and planning!

*

Proverbs 3:6

“In all thy ways acknowledge him,

and he shall direct thy paths.”

 

 

 

Garden

Winter Surprise

February…what a teaser!

We have struggled and endured the stunningly cold polar vortex that assaulted us for a number of days in late January and early February….then February decided to give us a taste of spring with warm breezes and sunshine.  We are now back to cold and blowing snow.

While walking to the house with my head tucked from the cold wind, and not paying much attention, I glanced down and couldn’t believe what I saw…the little violas that had reseeded along the sidewalk were blooming!  Such an unexpected surprise!  February is teasing us again!  But spring will be here soon.

The flowers of late winter and early spring 

occupy places in our hearts

well out of proportion to their size.

Gertrude Wister

*

Philippians 4:4

Rejoice in the Lord always;

again I will say, rejoice!

 

Garden

Brrr! Bring them inside!

Bringing Plants In

“The Autumn Winds They Do Blow Cold…”

It is the time of year to bring in any tender plants that you want to overwinter.

You can preserve plants from year to year and also enjoy the tropical greenery inside.  It is nice to have something green growing when all is dead and buried under snow outside.

Inspect the plants and pots for pests and insects before bringing them in.  The plants may need pruned back some, or re potted.

Make sure you have the right spot for them-they need bright light out of direct sunlight.

The air inside is dryer, and of course much warmer, and the plants need a higher humidity-mist them occasionally or set on pebble filled trays.

I find that it is easier to take care of them if they are grouped together.

Keep them well watered.  They should be lightly fertilized about once a month, especially after the daylight begins to lengthen in the early spring and they begin growing again.

What is going on here garden wise….

The only vegetable garden I was able to muster this summer here at our new home was this…

A few tomato plants and a few zucchini squash along the block wall by the carport.  They grew fine and I enjoyed the precious few tomatoes and summer squash.  The summer season ended all too soon and I am left wondering where the summer went.

The temperatures have dipped into the 30’s at night these last few weeks and reduced my small garden to this…

Good by summer!

One of the most frost sensitive plants are my impatiens-they put on such a beautiful display in the shady areas of the garden-overnight they turned into this.

I do have a few houseplants that I overwinter every year, bringing them inside before the frost damages them.  After spending the summer outside, they are all growing very lush and full.

One is the Christmas Cactus.  It is really a Thanksgiving Cactus, as soon as I bring it into the warm house, it begins setting its blossoms and should be in full bloom in a few weeks.  It is a very forgiving plant and survives just fine outside in the summer and also does well inside during the winter.

I love ferns, and try to keep this one from year to year-it is a challenge as it does not like the dry heat of the house. By the time late spring arrives, it is barely surviving.  It recovered nicely this summer, but I am expecting it to suffer in the house again this winter.

I was given a few pink sorrel plants years ago -these were from the person’s grandmother, and could I keep them alive?-and have overwintered them successfully for a number of years.  They are considered perennials, but are not hardy in our area.  They overwinter in the house fine, but do make quite a mess, as they grow, flower, die off again and again.

The last plant that I plan to overwinter is this mixed hanging basket.  It grew ferociously during the summer, hanging down about 4 feet, but it is very frost sensitive and suffered some killing damage already as I didn’t bring it in soon enough.  I will cut it back severely, and see if it recovers.

It is the time of year to begin tucking everything in for the winter….are you ready?

Do you overwinter any plants?

Are you successful?

*

Proverbs 24:5

A wise man is strong;

yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.

 

 

 

Garden

Flower of the Week-Johnny Jump Up

Johnny Jump Up

What a name!  But the flower does its name justice.  Such a cute name and such a cute flower.  Such a happy smiley face of a flower.

When we moved to this new house last fall, I found lots of these Johnny Jump Ups all over, in the lawn and in beds.  I tried transplanting some of them from the lawn into beds where I wanted them.  Most of the transplants did not live over the winter, but this spring, there were plenty more to move where I wanted them.  I had never grown violas before and I am loving them.

So, here is the scoop on Johnny Jump Ups…

Violas, known as Johnny Jump Ups, are a popular, easy and fun to grow flower. They are also known as wild pansy, which they are related to, (the size of the flower being the difference) and as heart’s ease.

Violas come in the cheery colors of deep purple, mauve, and yellow.

They love the full sun, and will also do well in partial shade.

Violas can be planted in the summer or fall, by scattering the seeds on the ground and then barely covering them. Keep watered.

They like average garden soil, but some compost never hurts anything.

They will germinate in about 10 days.

Violas are long blooming, blooming from spring till the fall if they are kept deadheaded.  When the plant becomes worn out, cut it back to about 3-4 inches for a re-bloom.

Violas are low growing, about 3-10 inches tall and are good for the front of flower borders.

Violas can be self seeders, as the ones I have are.  If they are not deadheaded, the seeds will scatter as they will.  Just dig a good size clump and move them where wanted.

They like to be kept well watered and weeded.

Violas are not bothered by disease or pests and are frost tolerant.

Violas are edible-they can be used as a garnish to decorate cakes and pastries, added to salads, and frozen in cubes to float in summer drinks.

I am enjoying my happy face Johnny Jump Ups.

Do you grow violas?

*

Colossians 1:10

That you may live a life worthy of the Lord

and may please him in every way;

bearing fruit in every good work,

growing in the knowledge of God.

 

 

Garden

Time for Rhubarb-Growing It

Rhubarb

Now is a special time of year in the garden-time for rhubarb!

Oh, how I love my rhubarb!

Rhubarb is the first, early crop that can be harvested from the garden.  After a long winter of a barren garden, the rhubarb pushing up is a very welcome sight!

Even after a light, late spring snow, it will still plug along.

About Rhubarb

Rhubarb is one of the perennial vegetables, and will return reliably year after year.  How nice to plant it once and enjoy it every year.

It is very hardy and problem free.

It has a large bearing in the garden and can be used as an ornamental.

Rhubarb, as a herbaceous perennial, grows from short, thick rhizomes.

It produces large leaves on tall stems.  The stems have a rich, tart flavor that is wonderful in cooking.

Rhubarb is a vegetable, but is used like a fruit in cooking and eating.

The reddish-green stalks are the edible part of the rhubarb plant.

Caution-The leaves of the rhubarb plant are poisonous-they contain oxalic acid and should not be eaten. (I cut the leaves off the stems while still in the garden, and lay them down in the rows and around the rhubarb plant; they make a nice mulch.  They can also be composted for later use.  The oxalic acid dissipates when composted.)

Growing rhubarb

Since rhubarb is a perennial, and will be growing in the garden for many years, choose an out of the way place, such as the edge of the garden, where the plant will not be disturbed while preparing the rest of the garden each year.

The bed for rhubarb should be carefully prepared-eliminate all weeds, dig in generous amounts of compost that is high in organic matter

A bushel basket sized hole (1 1/2 feet deep and 3 feet wide) should be dug.

The plants should be spaced about 4 feet apart-rhubarb grows quite large.

Rhubarb is best planted from root divisions and should be planted while it is dormant, in the early spring or fall.  This is a wonderful plant to share with friends, or to receive from a gardener friend.

The crown should be planted 1-2 inches below ground level.

Rhubarb prefers full sun, and well-drained soil.

Rhubarb is very hardy and needs cold winters, with winter temperatures of 40 degrees or below.

 

After planting, mulch the bed well with straw or cow manure.  The mulch will help retain moisture, discourage weeds and provide nutrients.

Rhubarb is seldom bothered by disease or pests.  The biggest problem will be crown rot if the bed is not well draining.  A raised bed would be a solution here.

Rhubarb will form a nice sized clump over the years and the plants can be dug and divided every 3-5 years while they are dormant.

 

Care of Rhubarb

 

Rhubarb is a very easy care plant-just keep it weeded and well watered through the summer months.

In the early spring, the rhubarb will send up a tall flowering stalk.  This stalk should be cut off to keep the plant bearing for a longer time.

In the fall, when the leaves and stalks begin to yellow and fall over, you can clear the bed off.  Now is a good time to put a 1-2 inch layer of manure/mulch over the bed.  I have found that rhubarb is one plant that can take straight chicken manure with out any problem.

Harvesting Rhubarb

Do not harvest any stalks the first year of its growing-it needs to send lots of energy to the roots and become established.  The second year, a modest harvest can begin, and by the third year you can harvest for 8-12 weeks in the spring.

Do not harvest all of the stalks at one time.  Take about 2/3 at each cutting,  leaving 1/3 for growth.  Harvest the 12-18 inch long stalks.

The rhubarb plant will let you know when it is time to stop harvesting-the stalks will become thinner and thinner.  It is time for the plant to rest till next spring.

To harvest the stalks, grab the stalk at the base of the plant and pull and twist gently.

A well cared for rhubarb patch should bear for 20+ years, giving you lots of delicious rhubarb for dessert.

 

I was wondering if there were any poems on rhubarb.  I was surprised when I did a search!  Yes, there are rhubarb poems!  Who knew?

Some may think its too bitter.

Quite the contrary.

As pie, its the tastiest

Treat, like no other.

My stomach then smiles

for rhubarb

Pie!

Michael Degenhardst

(who must love rhubarb pie as much as I do!)

What to do with the rhubarb you harvest?  Be on the look out next week for my favorite rhubarb recipes!

*

Psalm 145:8

The Lord is gracious and compassionate,

slow to anger and rich in love.

 

 

 

 

 

Garden

Flower of the Week-Daffodil

Daffodil

 

Daffodowndilly Crown

She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,

She wore her greenest gown,

She turned to the south wind

And curtsied up and down.

She turned to the sunlight

And shook her yellow head,

And whispered to her neighbor,

“Winter is dead.”

A.A. Milne

 

We are enjoying the cheery spring greetings of the yellow daffodils right now.  Such a common flower, but such a welcome sunny sight as we begin the march of the blooming flowers. Daffodils are one of the first splashes of color in the spring. What a welcome sight they are!

Daffodils can be enjoyed outside in the garden as well as inside in the vase.

Daffodils are a popular flower that multiply quickly.  Daffodils include narcissi and jonquils and they come in a variety of sunny colors, the usual yellow, along with white, cream, orange,  pink and multi-colored.  There are literally hundreds of varieties of daffodils, including different styles with trumpet, doubles, split cup and miniature sizes good for the rock garden and front of flower borders.

Growing Daffodils

Daffodils are spring blooming flowers that grow from bulbs. They are a very reliable and easy to grow flower.

The flower bulbs must be planted in the mid to late fall while the ground can still be worked.  You can find many varieties of the bulbs in the local stores in the fall, or harder-to-find varieties can be ordered from mail order nurseries in the summer.

Daffodils are winter hardy in zones 3-8.

Daffodils do well in full sun as well as part shade.

Bulbs should be planted 4-6 inches deep with the pointy end up and about 3 inches apart.

Daffodils will grow just about anywhere, but do prefer well-drained soil.

Daffodils should be kept well watered;  this is not usually a problem during the spring season.

Daffodils can be planted in among perennial flowers and will be done blooming by the time the perennials flower.

They should be planted in informal grouping to look more natural.  One idea for informal planting is to throw the bulbs out, and plant where ever they land. They will naturalize and multiply nicely.

A variety of daffodils can be planted for a longer bloom time in the spring, and they look lovely inter-planted with other spring blooming bulbs.

Daffodils also do well planted in containers.

Daffodils make wonderful cut flowers, but they do secrete a fluid that is irritating to the skin and that will inhibit other cut flowers  If daffs will be used in a mixed flower arrangement, the stems should be soaked in their own water for 24 hours, then rinsed off before adding to the other flowers.

 

Care of daffodils after bloom time

When daffodils are finished blooming, the flower stems can be removed, but the green foliage should be left to die off on its own.  This foliage builds the food storage reserves that the bulbs need to keep growing nice and healthy from year to year. When all of the foliage has turned brown, it can then be cut off at ground level, or it can usually just be pulled off with a little tug.  I have heard of gardeners braiding the foliage for a tidy look as it dies off.

A nice mulch of compost will be appreciated and act as fertilizer for the bulbs.

Daffodils can be lifted and divided every 4-5 years or so.

It looks like spring has finally arrived here in south-western Pennsylvania-the days are warming, the sun is shining much of the time, the perennials are popping up, the trees are starting to bud, the grass is greening-Oh, what a glorious time it is for the gardener, especially after this long winter.  I have been interested, and am looking to see what is coming up in the gardens of our new home-and it doesn’t look like much.  Mostly evergreen shrubs, I suppose a very easy landscape for the elderly couple who previously owned this house.  Everything looks neat and tidy.

There are no daffodils here-most of these flower photos are from our former home in Cottage Hill.  I did get 1 flower bed planted to spring blooming bulbs last fall, it is blooming right now and looking very pretty and ‘springy’.  I will share pictures next week.  Next fall there will be many spring-blooming bulbs planted, including many daffodils!

Are you enjoying your Spring?

*

Psalm 34:19 (TLB)

“The good man does not escape all troubles-

he has them too.

But the Lord helps him in each and every one.”