Garden · Uncategorized

Start With Seeds

A List of Seed Catalogs

While the winter winds howl and the snow blows and you are tucked inside a warm house under a warm throw with a warm drink near by….

It is time to crack out those seeds catalogs that have been arriving in the mail.

 

What a welcome sight these catalogs are….with thoughts of great garden dreams as I peruse them.

Some of my past seed order packets…

And some free seeds thrown in!  Yes, I started them, planted them out and they grew well.  I had been wanting to grow some ancho chilis for chili rellanos and here they were!

Here is a list of seed companies to order from;

Park Seed Co-www.parkseed.com

Johnny’s Selected Seeds-www.Johnnyseeds.com

Totally Tomatoes-www.totallytomato.com

Vermont Bean Seed-www.VermontBean.com

Pinetree Garden Seeds-www.superseeds.com

Burpee Seeds-www.burpee.com

Gurney Seeds-www.gurneys.com

Botanical Interests-www.botanicalinterests.com

Jung Quality Garden seeds-www.jungseed.com

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange-www.southernexposure.com

Sow True Seeds-www.sowtrueseed.com

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds-www.rareseeds.com

High Mowing Seeds-wwwhighmowingseeds.com

Harris Seeds-www.harrisseeds.com

R.H. Shumway-www.rhshumway.com

Wild Garden Seeds-www.wildgardenseed.com

Renee’s Garden-www.reneesgarden.com

Territorial Seed Co-www.territorialseed.com

True Leaf Market Seed Co-www.trueleafmarket.com

Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply-www.groworganic.com

Terroir Seeds-www.underwoodgardens.com

John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds-www.kitchengardenseeds.com

Just a few comments about some of the above companies-

I order many of my seeds from Pinetree.  I think you get more seeds for the money.

Territorial-I always get in trouble here!  The garden dreams run away with this catalog!

Totally Tomatoes-Any tomato you are looking for!

Vermont Bean Seed-I always like the thought of growing a huge variety of dry beans, but alas, I don’t have the room, so I just keep dreaming!

Baker Creek-This catalog is the the cadillac of seed catalogs and the unusual variety is amazing. It is real eye candy for gardeners.

Burpee, an old reliable company, but a little on the pricey side.

The Burpee seed display is already out in the local Walmart store.

This is just a partial list of all the seed companies that are out there.

Now is the time to start planning that garden!

Yes and No….

Yes it is nice to have a diversion for house cleaning, but No, I still plan on cleaning my house!  Will be deep spring cleaning the living room today. If only it stayed that way!

Do you have a favorite seed catalog to order from?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garden

Growing Amaryllis

Can a flower bloom so beautifully in the dead of winter?

Yes!  Most everyone is familiar with the annual parade of Poinsettias at Christmas time, but here is another beautifully blooming flower for the winter season, Amaryllis.

I have grown Amaryllis for many years and they bloom so extravagantly and beautifully every year.

The double white Amaryllis ‘Marquis’ in full bloom this past Christmas.

 

Growing Amaryllis

The Latin name for Amaryllis is Hippeastrum.  Amaryllis is a bulb from South America and is a tropical plant.

Amaryllis flowers are large, trumpet shaped blooms at the end of tall leafless stems.

They come in many colors-red, rose, white, pink, salmon, and orange.  The blooms can be single, double, variegated, stripped or picotee.

It is very easy to grow, and if cared for properly it will continue to grow and bloom for you for many years.  Some have been known to grow for 50 years.

Amaryllis naturally grows in zone- 8-10.  To grow in my zone, 5-6, the bulb takes special care as it does not survive in our freezing weather.  But it is very easy to do.

If they are purchased by bare bulb, the bulbs should be soaked in water for a few hours, then planted into a pot with good potting soil.  I always purchase my plants already potted and usually from the clearance rack, so they are very reasonable.  But the selection is very limited.  If you are searching for a special color or form they would need to be mail ordered in bulb form.

Use a heavy pot, as the plant can become top heavy when in full bloom.  Make sure there are drainage holes so the bulb never is in standing water or it will rot.

Plant the bulb with the pointy end up, leaving about 1/3 of the bulb exposed and above the soil level.  Use good potting soil.

The bigger the bulb, the bigger the bloom.

Amaryllis grow best in a cool room- 60-70 degrees.

Place them in bright, indirect light.

Rotate the pot to keep the stem growing straight.  It is helpful to use stakes for support, as the blooms can be heavy and may flop over.

Water sparingly until the new growth begins, then water regularly.  Make sure the water is draining.

Amaryllis will bloom 6-8 weeks after being planted.  You can plan accordingly as to when you want them to bloom, and you can pot up multiple bulbs for a longer succession of blooms.  I wanted these white Amaryllis to bloom at Christmas time, and they did.  They were beautiful!

Amaryllis make wonderful cut flowers that can last up to 2 weeks in the vase.  A potted up blooming Amaryllis makes a wonderful gift at Christmas time!

After the bulbs are done blooming, cut back the flowering stalks.  The stems will eventually yellow and then they can be cut back too.  Cut back about 2 inches from the bulb.

Be aware that Amaryllis is toxic to pets.

I have had some of my Amaryllis for many years and they have bloomed faithfully for me every year.  This is what I do.  After the flowering stems and foliage is cut back, I place the pots in an out of the way place that does not freeze.  For me, this is the back porch, a regular area for in between things.

When the outside weather is above freezing, sometime in May, I put the pots in an out of the way place in the garden or on the patio.  There they stay, all spring, summer, and fall, getting rained on and fertilized along with all the other plants in pots.  When the temperatures begin to fall into the freezing range in the late fall I cut all the foliage back again, and take the pots to the basement.  There they will stay until I am ready for them again.  It is a cool, dark area.  I water them when I think of it.  I bring them back out when I am ready for beautiful blooms in about 7 weeks.

Something that I have done for years with my Sunday School class…we grow the Amaryllis after Christmas.  I have mostly girls in my class and I let them have free range in decorating our classroom for Christmas with items that I have collected over the years.  The class room is definitely not the nicest decorated classroom but they are very happy and busy doing it.  All of the Christmas decorations were taken down and packed away last week, and the row of Amaryllis set out.  The pots were watered and next week we will see if they have grown.  I always enjoy their expressions of excitement when they come back each Sunday and see how much they have grown.  I will keep you updated with photos as the Amaryllis grow and bloom.

Behold,

I will do a new thing,

Now it shall spring forth.

Isaiah 45:19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garden · Uncategorized

A Visit to the Conservatory


A trip to the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

A Christmas gift to me from one of my children was a trip to the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  It was beautifully arrayed for the Christmas season.

The Conservatory is located in Oakland at Schenley Park on the hill. It is one of America’s leading conservatories and is a historic landmark.  It was built in 1893 and covers 15 acres.  There are 14  Victorian style greenhouses plus adjoining grounds that are all landscaped beautifully.  There are 23 distinct theme gardens, and they are decorated seasonally.  Their Christmas season display was impressive.

And the company was vey delightful.  The grandchildren seemed to enjoy touring the greenhouses as much as I did.

There were a number of train displays in one of the greenhouses.  A boys delight!  I also thoroughly enjoyed looking at all the intricate detail in the train displays.

There were a number of water features, some with live fish.  This one, with a glass viewing area was very entertaining to the littlest one.

Visiting a conservatory or botanical garden is a wonderful way to spend a winter day.  I can’t say that I got many gardening ideas from my visit, but it was so nice to spend time among living, growing things while everything is frozen outside.

http://www.phipps.conservatory.org

 

 

The January sun is climbing imperceptibly higher in the southern sky.  We are gaining 2 additional minutes of daylight each day this month.  Have you noticed the days getting longer already?

Gardening season will be here before you know it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garden

Crocus

(photo by Deborah Blowers)

And all the woods are alive with the murmur and sound of Spring,

And the rose-bud breaks into pink on the climbing briar,

And the crocus bed is a quivering fire,

Girdled round with the belt of an amethyst ring.

Oscar Wilde

One of the first flowers to bloom in the new year is the crocus. The blooming crocus signals the ending of winter and the ushering in of Spring.  What a welcome sight these cheery blossoms are!

The cheery, determined crocus will even bloom through the late winter snows, bringing much needed color to the departing winter.

Crocus symbolizes cheerfulness.

Growing Crocus

  • Crocus, from the ‘Iridaceae’ family, are perennial, growing from corms or bulblets.
  • Crocus, being perennial, will come back year after year, much to our enjoyment
  • Crocus grow from zone 3-8.  They need cold to bloom
  • Crocus bloom in late winter to early spring, in February through March
  • Crocus like well-drained, loose soil.  The corms will rot if grown in water logged areas
  • There are the early, or snow crocus and the later, giant crocus.  Both can be planted for a longer bloom period
  • There is also an ‘autumn crocus’, that is actually in the lily family, blooming in the fall.  They are quite stunning to see
  • There are the Saffron crocus where we get the saffron spice from
  • Crocus grow best in partial to full sun, liking 6 + hours of sunlight a day to do best.  Since they bloom so early, they can be planted under trees; they will bloom before the trees leaf out
  • Crocus are low growing, from 2-4 inches and are great at the front of a flower border
  • Crocus are perfect in the perennial bed, rock garden or mixed borders.
  • Crocus colors are blue, purple, lavender, pink, orange, yellow, and white
  • Crocus are fragrant and a wonderful early food source for honeybees
  • Crocus require minimal care and will naturalize wherever they are planted
  • Crocus are rarely bothered by deer, rabbits and squirrels
  • To plant crocus, first work some compost into the soil, then plant the corms 3-4 inches deep with the pointy end up.  They should be planted in the fall while the ground still can be worked, any time from 6-8 weeks before the first hard frost right up to frost.  Water in well. This usually is September to November in my zone 6
  • Since crocus are such dainty flowers, it works best to plant them in groups or clusters of at least 10, with the corms a few inches apart.
  • Crocus can be planted right into the lawn area for a wonderful spring display.  The first mowing is usually after the bloom time.
  • Crocus do appreciate water when needed and regular fertilizer and mulch
  • Once crocus are done blooming, let the grass like foliage die back naturally.  The leaves will send food to the corms for next years blooms. Then the crocus will disappear for the year to greet you again in the early spring
  • Crocus can be dug and divided after blooming.  A great way to increase your plantings or to share with others
  • Crocus can also be successfully grown in containers

The Story of My Crocus

This narrow bed along our carport is where I had my crocus planted, along with other summer blooming perennials and annuals . I wanted to see the blossoms every time I walked by in the spring.  They really did cheer my heart after the winter, and I looked so forward to them. 

Last summer was a big project of making a cement parking area on the area to the left of the bed.  There originally was a sidewalk here, but the whole yard area was put into cement.  I dug as many of the perennials as possible before the big equipment arrived and began digging the dirt up.  Since the crocus were dormant at the time, I forgot about them and didn’t dig them.  The mess you see in the photo below is the weeding that I did last fall.  After the cement was poured, and the bed was backfilled, all these weeds came up.  I thought I had lost all the crocus as the dirt was all moved around.  

The dirt that was excavated out for the cement pad was all piled into the yard.  This is the dirt that will be used to fill the new raised vegetable garden beds that will be built this spring.  We have lived with this unsightly pile of dirt all year, but the soil here is too nice and I couldn’t bear to have it hauled off, since I would be needing it this year.  (My poor husband-what he has to endure with a wife that loves to garden!  I make him walk around regularly with me to see what is coming up-he could care less!)

Just a few crocus came back up in the flowerbed and I felt sad that most were gone.

This is not a good photo, but the yellow in the photo below is my crocus!  Apparently, most of the crocus corms were dug and dumped on the dirt pile together.  I was surprised to see them blooming this spring.  They will be dug and re-planted back in the same bed soon.  Shows you how hardy these little dainty plants are!  What a nice spring surprise!


Praying for Ukraine

 

Cooking · Garden

Growing Chives

There are a number of herbs and vegetables that are perennial, meaning that they will return year after year to give you a harvest.  One of my favorite perennial herbs, or one of my favorite herbs in general, is chives.

 

There are 2 types of chives, the common chive (Allium schoenoprasum) and garlic chives (Allium tuberosum).  The common chives have a mild onion flavor and the garlic chives have a garlic flavor.

Pictured above is the common chive, the one that I have grown for years.  This clump has moved with me to our current location and it has been divided and shared many times.

Both the leaves and flowers of chives are edible.

The most commonly used part of the chive plant is the leaves.  The leaves are hollow and grass like and are best used fresh.

The flowers are also edible and can be cut and used fresh while they are in season.  They are usually used in salads and as a garnish.

How to Grow Chives

  • Chives grow from small bulblets
  • Chives are one of the first of the herbs that are ready in the spring
  • Chives are milder than onions, and are members of the onion family
  • Chives grow well in any zone from 3-9. They are very cold hardy
  • Chives grow best in full sun
  • Chives like well-drained rich soil that has been amended with compost
  • Plant clumps of chives 6 inches apart
  • Chives can be divided every three years and re-planted out after the last spring frost
  • Water regularly, keep weeded and mulch
  • Can be grown in containers and can be moved indoors for all year use
  • Require minimal care, and I consider them well behaved.  Some of my reading says that the flowers heads, if left, can cause them to spread but I have not found it so.  If you have a problem with too much self seeding, just make sure the flower heads are cut off before they go to seed.
  • Will flower from late May till June.  Flowers can be used fresh or dried in cooking, or as an ornamental or cut flower
  • To harvest, just grab a handful or how ever much you need, and cut them off at the base.  If using the flower heads, just cut off as needed
  • Chives can be used in salads, dips, egg dishes, in potato salad, on pizza or as a topping.

My favorite way to use chives-freshly chopped over a baked potato with butter and sour cream.

What a lovely, delicious welcome to Spring!

Do you grow chives?

Praying for Ukraine

 

Faith · Garden · My Town

In Praise of Snow

Beautiful snow, so pure and white,

Dancing through the air you go.

Falling so gently, softly and light

From th’ clouds above to the earth below.

 

Beautiful snow, so pure and white,

Th’ crowning beauty of winter cold;

Falling both by day and by night,

Falling on mountain-top and wold.

 

Beautiful snow, so pure and white,

Falling gently on vale and dell;

Cov’ring the cottage of the poor,

And the mansion of the rich as well.

 

Beautiful snow, so pure and white,

Falling on things both high and low,

Hiding the fallen leaves out of sight,

While o’er the brown tree you thickly blow.

 

Beautiful snow, so pure and white,

Oh, how I love to see you fall.

Oh, I am certain, yes, I am sure,

Nothing’s as pretty as snow at all.

 

Lord! make my heart as pure and white

As the snow when it falls from above.

Fill me with Thy truth and light

And sweet beautiful faith and love. 

Effie Waller Smith

 

A poor photo, I know, due to the angle of the sun, but icicles on the roof of the house.  My roses are just below and they are entombed in ice also.  Hopefully, they make it through this winter.

There are benefits of snow for the garden.

  • Snow acts as an excellent insulator.  Shovel the snow onto your growing bed to give them a nice blanket of protection.
  • Snow protects from harsh, drying winds that can damage plants.
  • Snow can protect from the heaving up of plants due to the freezing and thawing cycle.  It is best to have the ground stay frozen until spring.
  • Snow provides moisture to perennial plants and bulbs as they are waking up for the spring.
  • Snow, as it melts, provides nitrogen that is essential to plant growth.
  • If you have designed a garden for winter interest, snow provides beauty as it covers everything.

As we are ending the month of January, we are leaving the season of Deep Winter.  As we enter the month of February, we are entering the season of Late Winter, and the seasonal temperatures should be steadily rising all across the nation, which they will continue to do till mid July.  There will still be snow and ice and cold to contend with, but-

Winter brings the

the cold of February,

But remember,

It is only temporary.

I do love a good snow fall!

Following are some photos of my town after the last storm.

 

And a photo of the Redbank Creek with the resident geese and ducks.

And lastly, a big shout out to the state and local snow crews that work so hard to keep our roads clear.

They had quite the big clean-up job after this last snow storm.  And another one is on the way….

Thanks guys!

You Lord, are forgiving and good,

abounding in love to all

who call to you.  

Psalm 86:5

Garden

The Winter Garden


Yes, January is the time for dreaming about this years garden.  With the cold and snow of my mid-Atlantic growing area, there is not much that can be done outside.  But there are things you can be doing to get ready for the dream garden in your head.

 

raised beds in snow
My garden in winter

Now is the time to begin planning for this years garden.  

If you have kept a garden journal or took photos of your last years garden, you can refer to them when planning for this year.  Now is the time to evaluate what worked and what didn’t; things you would like to do different, or something to change, or to try new.  You can evaluate the design and structure of the garden.  The location of the garden, the walkways and structures, anything that needs worked on or changed.  

This is a wonderful time of slowness when you can peruse magazines, garden books, and the internet for garden ideas for this year.  It is still a little early to begin starting seeds for our area, but that time will be here soon enough.

 

(A job waiting for me as soon as workable, that didn’t get completed last fall!)

Some photos of the big snow storm of recent…..one of the biggest snowfalls that I can remember in a number of years.

It has snowed most every day for over a week now.

Temperature have been below 0 many nights.  Too cold for me!

It took us a couple of days to dig out and clear the walkways and drive.

Things to do in January

  • Plan this years garden
  • Peruse seed catalogs
  • Start this years garden journal, noting things that you would like to try new or change
  • Inventory your old seeds
  • Decide what and how much you would like to plant this year
  • Gather items needed for seed starting and get things set up
  • Prune as needed
  • Learn new things
  • Start seeds of slow germinating plants and some cool season plants
  • Shovel snow on to your growing beds
  • Get ideas from books and the computer
  • Keep up with houseplant care and overwintered plants
  • Keep wildlife animal feeding and watering stations filled
  • Clean and organize your garden shed or storage area
  • Clean and sharpen your garden tools

Are you getting anxious to get back to gardening again?

Here’s to a wonderful, bountiful garden of your dreams!

 

 

 

 


Garden

March Garden Chores-The First Week of March

raised beds in snow
My garden in winter

It was one of those March days

when the sun shines hot

and the wind blows cold:

When it is summer in the light,

and winter in the shade.

Charles Dickens

Ahhh, March…such a mercurial month, but in reality, it is the true beginning of the gardening year.

The warm days tease me to take a walk-about around the gardens to see what is happening, if anything.  And, yes! things are happening already in the garden-tulips and hyacinths popping their heads up, the sedums showing green, unfurling from amongst the leaf mulch, and the fall planted garlic showing in their row.  Others, such as the asparagus and rhubarb, are still asleep, though I look hard for some visible life.  Soon, soon….

We are ,(in my 5-6 gardening zone) 11 to 12 weeks before the average last frost.  

There are things to be done in preparation for the new gardening year, soon to begin in earnest.  While it is still too early to do much outside in the garden, there is much to be done indoors to be well prepared for the soon coming Spring.

The cold winter months are wonderful for perusing the seed catalogs that arrive just after Christmas.  Oh, the dreams of beautiful, weed free gardens….

 

Things to do This Week in the Garden

  • Plan the garden.  Sketch out what will be planted where.  Refer to last years garden journal.
  • Start this years garden journal.
  • Survey your yard-are there any areas that need an update or to be changed?  Make plans now to do this. 
  • Visit a local Spring flower and garden show…..you will be inspired!
  • Check for any garden structures that need attention or replacing.  It is so much easier to replace a trellis now, rather than when it is full of vines!
  • Inventory your past years seeds.
  • Peruse the seed catalogs, and place your seed orders.
  • Plan out your planting schedule for your climate zone.  
  • Purchase and/or prepare the seed starting supplies.
  • Set up a seed starting area.
  • Test your soil if you choose.  (I do not.)
  • Clean out bird nest boxes.  Do it sooner rather than later, as birds do not like to be disturbed once they start nesting.  The birds are already chirping!
  • Clear away the mulch in the beds of early blooming flowers.
  • Do not rush the removal of mulch and cleaning up just yet.
  • Cut back grasses.
  • Finish up the late winter pruning of roses, grapevines, fruit trees, brambles and late summer flowering shrubs.
  • Many pruned branches can be brought indoors and forced for early indoor bloom.
  • As the daylight is getting longer, houseplants will begin putting out new growth.  Give them a ‘shower’, trim back foliage as needed and begin fertilizing.
  • Check on winter stored plants and vegetables.  Care for as needed.
  • Clean the garden tools.
  • Seeds of cool season crops can be started indoors now-celery, leeks, lettuce, onions.
  • If you have a cold frame, you can plant cold hardy seeds, such as radish and spinach and peas.

March-the month of Promise.

Happy gardening!

A joyful heart is good medicine.

Proverbs 17:22

Garden

Fridays Flower-Hyacinth

Spring Hyacinths

spring hyacinths

Hyacinth-one of the early spring blooming flowers.

What a welcome the blooming hyacinths are, for their rich color and wonderful fragrance!

Hyacinths are very easy to grow, requiring very little care, but so rewarding after a long, cold winter.  They are the essence of the fragrance of spring, blooming about the same time as daffodils and tulips, March to April.

Hyacinths grow from large bulbs that should be planted in the fall, usually in September to October, any time after the first light frost but before the ground freezes they can be planted.

Bulbs can be purchased at your favorite big box store or ordered from seed or nursery catalogs.

Hyacinths are hardy from zones 4-8.

They do best in full sun but will still flower in partial shade.

Hyacinths come in a wide range of colors from white, peach, apricot, salmon, blue shades, yellow, pink, red to purple and lavender.

Hyacinths grow to 6-12 inches tall, with a dense flower spike surrounded by strap like leaves.

The bulbs should be planted 4-6 inches deep with the pointed end up and 4-6 inches apart.

They like rich loose soil that is well drained, and only need water when dry.

Hyacinths do not multiply and spread like daffodils.  One bulb per flower-the bigger the bulb the better.

Hyacinths tend to decline over the years-some people treat them as annuals and replant new bulbs every fall, but if left alone they will bloom for many years, just not as pretty and lush as the first year. The faded flowers should be cut back as soon as they begins to turn brown, and the leaves left to grow.  The leaves will store energy for next years bloom.  When the leaves brown off they can be cut back or gently pulled off.  Some compost or fertilizer is appreciated at this time.

Hyacinths are best at the front of flower borders.  Emerging perennials will hide the dying foliage.  They are lovely lining a walkway where their fragrance can be enjoyed.

Hyacinths make good cut flowers and have a long vase life.  They can also be planted in containers, or forced for indoor winter/spring blooming.

One warning-the bulbs are poisonous-they contain oxalic acid, so use care while planting and around children and pets.

I am enjoying the beautiful colors and fragrance of my hyacinths this spring.  In the photo above is one of the beds that I made at our new house.  The stone wall on the right was already here-I made this flower bed, bordered by my signature stacked stone borders from stones that I have gathered over the years. Seems like every time I was digging I ran into stones-I decided to put them use as border stones.  Now I look for stones everywhere, and have been known to stop the car and grab stones from along the side of the road.  No stone is safe around me if it is the right shape and size!   Also the stepping stones were brought from our last house and reused as a walkway between the stone patio and stairs to the deck.

The garden here is a work in progress, and I am enjoying the progress of it!

 

Poem by Gerald Green


HYACINTHS PERFUME

I lingered to enjoy the moment,
ending the eleven-month intermission,
as the sweet aroma reached me
from the garden behind the house.

The hyacinth had returned
without fanfare or recognition
by bulbs not yet broken forth,
or buds pregnant with the glory of spring.

I followed the unforgettable scent
to its humble position beside the hellebore,
and admired my early spring friend
before me in perfect health.

With one whiff, everything changed.
Last year’s faded images of spring renewed,
and the value of life increased
in a moment. In a breath.




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!