(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 are low-growing, not fussy, and low maintenance.
  • Crocus, being perennial, will come back year after year, much to our enjoyment.  They will live for many years.
  • 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
  • Crocus are toxic.

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


Garden · Uncategorized

Seed Starting

It is that time of year-time to start your seeds.

Here are some tips to help you get started.

  • Purchase or use seeds you have saved
  • Gather and prepare your containers.  There are many items you can use to start your seeds in.  I have tried a number of ways, and most of them worked out well for me.   Egg cartons. Wax covered milk or juice cartons. Carry-out container. Paper, plastic or foam cups.  Containers that yogurt or puddings come in.  I wash and save them all year and just poke a hole in the bottom of each for water drainage.  Used six packs can be reused if they are cleaned well. You can make your own growing containers from empty toilet paper rolls or you can make them from newspaper. Just make sure that they are at least 2 inches deep.  All work well.  Have a water proof tray or container of some sort to put all your seeded containers in.  Something that will catch the water that drains out of the seed cups. A tote works well for this.
  • You can purchase ready made starting trays from the store that come already filled with starting mix and have a humidity dome. These are the easiest.  Just wet the soil and you are ready to plant.
  • Make sure you are using a seed starting mix and not regular potting soil.  Seed starting mix can be purchased by the bag to fill all your starting cups with.  It is the ideal medium for seed starting.  It is finer and more light weight than regular potting soil and makes it easier for the germinating seeds to break the surface.  It actually contains no soil and is comprised of peat moss, vermiculite, coconut coir and perlite.  Just moisten, stir and fill your containers.  Make sure to tamp the soil down so there will be no air pockets and good soil to seed contact.
  • Poke a hole into the center of each cup of starting mix-I use the end of a pencil-it seems to be about the right size.  Check the seed packet for information on how deep to plant each seed, usually two times deep as the size of the seed.


  • Drop the seeds into each pre-made hole.  I use tweezers to do this-it can be hard to handle small seeds.  Sow 1 or 2 seeds into each one.  If both seeds germinate, just cut the smallest one off after they germinate so there is only one plant in each pot.

  • Pinch the soil up over each planted to seed to cover it.  If the seeds are very small, just give a thin dusting of soil over them.
  • Make sure to label and date the seeds sown.  My stand-by for marking all the things that I grow is plastic mini blinds.  Find an old set of mini blinds and cut out the cords.  Cut the loose blind pieces into whatever length of marker you need and use a permanent marker to label each variety.  These markers will last all year.  (I did this when I had chickens-I had all my perennial plants marked in their pots. I usually let the chickens out in the evening to scratch around the yard and they pulled all my markers out of the pots.  Sigh!)
  • I love the pre-prepared trays that come with a humidity dome.  Once the seeds are planted, just cover the tray and that is it.  The moisture will stay inside to keep the seeds well watered. If you do not have a humidity dome, you can cover the tray of seeds with plastic wrap to keep the moisture even.  Light is not needed for most seeds to germinate.
  • I also have a heat mat and consider it a good investment if you will be starting seeds regularly.  I set the trays of planted seeds on the mat to keep it at an even temperature for good germination.  If you do not have one, don’t worry.  Any warm place will work.  Seeds usually like a temp of 65 to 75 degree to germinate.
  • In just a few days this is what you should see…the seed packet will have information on the usual germination time of each seeds type so you will know when to expect to see growing green.
  • As soon as most of the seeds have germinated, remove the humidity cover, remove them from the heat mat and make sure the seedling are put in bright light.  A window is usually not enough light to promote good growth. You will need to provide good growing light for the seedings. This usually involves artificial light. The seedlings will grow tall and spindly and lean toward the light if there is not enough light.  You are wanting short and stout seedlings.  When I was growing plants for the Farmer’s Market, I had a seed starting set up that involved a metal shelving unit with regular shop lights hanging on chains that I could adjust as the seedlings grew taller. The lights need to be just inches above the growing seedlings.  Regular shop lights worked fine for me as opposed to more expensive grow lights.  I also had the shop lights plugged into a power strip that was plugged into a timer so the seedling received the correct time of light.  You will usually be starting seeds when the daylight is less.  Seedlings need 16-18 hours of light to grow properly.
  • Water the seedlings regularly.  They can be watered by bottom watering or use a fine spray bottle with room temperature water. Do not let them dry out, but also do not overwater.
  • The first leaves that emerge are not true leaves, but are known as cotyledons.  They are actually part of the seed.  When the first true leaves emerge-and you should now recognize them as the leaves of the plants you are trying to grow, you can begin fertilizing.  Use 1/2 strength regular fertilizer once a week.
  • As your new seedlings begin to grow, they will need to be potted up.  More on that later.

Some vegetable seeds that benefit from early sowing indoors are:

Peppers- 8-10 weeks before last frost

Leeks and Onions-6-8 weeks before last frost

Tomatoes-6-8 weeks before last frost

Eggplant-6-8 weeks before last frost

Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage and Cauliflower-4-6 weeks before last frost

While you are busy planning for your garden this year, remember that God has plan for you!



Garden · Uncategorized

Reasons to Start Your Own Seeds


Have you considered starting your own seedlings this year?  It may seen like a difficult thing to do, but with a little know-how it is easy to accomplish.

Here are some reasons to start your own seeds this year.

  1. Better selection.  Buy your seeds early to avoid not getting what you are wanting and had planned on growing. Seed companies have so many more varieties than the seedlings that are grown by the nursery, greenhouse or big box store.  In a previous post-SEE HERE-there is a list of some of the seed companies that can be ordered from.  Most of them have a website and you can order on-line. Or you can request a paper catalog be mailed to you.  I always so enjoy taking my time to read through the paper catalogs before I place my order.  The choice is yours, not only what has been started by the garden business.  A word of caution!  Be careful and thoughtful or you will get carried away and order way too much!  Don’t ask how I know this….
  2. Save money.  You get more for your money when buying seeds as compared to buying the usual 6-packs of seedlings.  For the price of the six-pack you get many more seeds in a packet. If you only need a few seedlings, most seeds can be saved for future use.
  3. Growing Practices.  You can have control over the growing practices.  If you are concerned about pesticides, herbicides, GMOs, etc, you can make sure of how your seedlings are being grown.
  4. Planting and Harvest.  When you grow your own seedlings you have control over the planting time.  You may want to start seeds early to be set out under a protective cover for an earlier harvest or start seeds late to have a later fall garden.  You can grow just the amount you need.
  5. Earlier Harvest. Some types of plants will need to be started indoors as the growing season is not long enough to get a harvest before frost, but many of the plants that can be direct sown can be started indoors to get an earlier harvest or flowers.  You can get a jump on the season.
  6. Successive Planting.  You can have control over successive seed starting to give a long season of harvest.
  7. Proper Plants.  You can make sure that you are growing plants suited to your region and location.
  8. Seed Saving.  Many of the plant varieties (open pollinated or heirloom) can left to go to seed and the seeds saved from year to year.  This is another way to grow plants that have become acclimated to you location.
  9. Quality Control.  You have control over the quality and quantity of the seeds grown.  You can grow strong, healthy seedlings.
  10. Food Security.  Growing your own plants is a good way to enjoy some food security in this unsettled time.  Grow enough to can and freeze and you will have food all year long.
  11. Avoid the Spring Crowd.  I always make a trip (sometimes many trips!) to the greenhouse in the spring, but if you want to avoid the frantic rush of everyone in town scurrying to buy those plants to get them in the ground in a hurry, you do not have to go there.
  12. Sharing and Swapping.  Starting your own seeds is a great way to do sharing and swapping with others.  For many years I started seedlings to sell at the Farmer’s Market in the spring.  The left-over seedings I would take to church and share with whoever wanted any plants, usually tomatoes. When church was over I would pull my van up to the church entrance and open the back with a sign-Free Tomatoes!  I grew lots of unusual heirlooms and got lots of questions about each kind.  It was a great joy to share with others.
  13. Fun.  Seed starting is a very good garden activity to do when those long winter blues are feeling heavy.  How nice to get your hands in the ‘dirt’ and be growing things when not much is happening outside. It is very fun to watch the seeds emerge and grow.

Have you ever started seeds before?

Planting Seeds

We can plant the seeds of kindness,

Seeds of hope and joy and peace.

We can plant, and we can water.

Only God can bring increase.

All God asks  is faithful planting,

Constant reaching toward the goal.

Then His blessed Holy Spirit

Can reach out to save a soul.

We know God will never ask us,

“Just how well did you succeed?”

All He wants is faithful living,

Faithful planting of His seed.




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.


I will do a new thing,

Now it shall spring forth.

Isaiah 45:19