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Sunday, January 29, 2006


I'm all set with seeds! That's right, I've been to Menards twice and purchased Burpee seeds there at 30% off. I got the "standard" stuff, like green beans, zucchini, radishes, etc.. "Standard stuff" meaning those vegetables where the tried and true varieties will do just nicely, thank you very much. Then, this evening I placed an order with Park Seeds to fill in the gaps and get those seeds (and a few plants) that I'm not likely to find in the garden center. Gotta have the "Sugary" tomatoes again, for example. I also ordered some yellow and orange sweet peppers (I was going to type "green peppers", but that didn't make much sense).

While I was ordering the seeds, I also added in a few plants, including a couple of different dwarf cannas which I plan to put into pots. One variety was "Lucifer", which did give me pause because of the name. Why did they choose that name? Was it because of the attributes of the plant, or the red color of the flowers, or what? I've had a few plants that I think might be "of the devil" because of how they behaved, either wildly self-sowing all over the place, or spreading via agressive underground runners (why do I plant mint?!) Anyway, I decided to take a chance on "Lucifer" because it did look nice in the picture.

I'm also going to try some fruit. I ordered some new strawberry plants because the ones I had before were apparently not a good variety, and I should have known that when I purchased them. So, last fall I ripped them all out and these will be the replacement. I also decided to try some blueberries! I have a 4 x 6 raised bed right at the entrance to the raised bed vegetable garden area, and I decided that would be a good place to put these blueberries, which are supposed to be a dwarf variety, suitable for higher pH soils. Plus, being in this raised bed, I can doctor up the soil to lower the pH a bit.

Finally, I added one Meyer Lemon tree to my order. This variety is supposed to grow well in a pot, and will survive being brought inside in the fall/winter, and then back out in the spring/summer. I plan to keep it in my den in the winter time, since there is a good southern exposure in that room, and more importantly, I think there would be room for a small tree in there.

Next, I need to list all the seeds in a spreadsheet, decide which ones I'm starting inside, how many I'm starting inside, and which ones I am starting outside. And if there are still some gaps, I'll order more!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Winter Where Art Though?

We are having a warm winter. I don't know if it is unusual, but we are on pace to have the 3rd warmest January since they started to keep records. I don't like this. I want it to be cold, I want some snow, I want some freezing and thawing. I think all of that is good for a garden (except maybe the freezing and thawing which can uproot some plants). But the rest helps the garden rest and recuperate and prepare itself for spring. Yes, I'm in zone 5. Yes, I know there are people in zones 6 and higher who don't get the cold we usually get and they survive and do just fine with their gardens and actually probably have better gardens than I do. But I am not used to this. And it is not like it is a permanent weather change, such that I can now suddenly go out and get lemon and orange trees for the back yard.

Or is it?

Naw, it isn't permanent, just one of those cycles. I know we'll get snow eventually (probably at Easter in mid-April). We had snow in December, and we had very cold temperatures. I know we will have more before we put this winter in the record books.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Indoor Gardening

Okay, some evenings, it's easy to come home, eat, and then sit and watch TV and surf the 'net without any real direction or purpose. In between surfing and TV viewing, I might check work email to see if I can douse a fire or two or get a step or two ahead by sending some replies. I know some of my co-workers are doing the same thing, because I get replies from them within a matter of minutes. Not a good way to spend an evening.

So tonight, after eating, putting out the weekly trash, watching some TV and surfing on the net and checking in on work email, I got off the couch and tended to the indoor plants. I'll admit I didnt' spend as much time as I should have, especially watering the orchids, but every plant did get some water and a quick look over for obvious issues. I also cut off some old blooms on a few orchids and the new African violets and made sure the mealy bug infestation was in check and at least still confined to the one plant. I actually think it is getter better, overall, and I don't see any mealy bugs at the moment.

I am also pleased to report that several of the hyacinths that I am forcing in vases are starting to bloom. However, they aren't getting very tall, so the blooms seem a little scrunched up. But, they do smell nice and I have enough of them that I should soon have a room full of scent to enjoy.

Isn't this the way everyone lives? Coming home with all kinds of plans on what you are going to do, only to sit down and not get too much, if any, of it done!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

DVD's for Gardeners!

I'll admit I like to watch shows about gardening. I'm not talking about your "garden variety" shows on the Home and Garden channel (HGTV), which feature landscapers putting some shrubs around a pool or competing to see who has the best design. I'm talking about DVD's like Gardens of the World with Audrey Hepburn, where she strolls through different gardens and you actually learn something about the gardens and they show outstanding footage of gardens that can truly inspire you.

I also got a new DVD called Secrets of the Rose Gardener, which features Ellen Minet tending the rose garden at the Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay, New York. By following Ellen through the seasons, starting in early spring, you can really see how to care for roses. There isn't a lot of planned dialog, just Ellen talking about what they are doing, with good close ups as they prune, fertilize, etc. I hope someone produces more of these types of DVD's. I get so tired of what is shown on HGTV, other than that City Gardener, which is actually a British import. They also used to have a show called the Curious Gardener, also a British import, but just as I discovered it and start to watch it, they pulled it off the air.

I do have friends who just howl with laughter that someone would actually sit and watch these garden videos. They totally can not understand it. To me, watching these videos is like flipping through a garden magazine in slow motion, with a thousand images of what gardens should look like. I find them very inspiring and relaxing. Even as I write this, I am also tuned into on Gardens of the World. I wish I could find some more DVD's like these!!

Sunday, January 15, 2006


I must confess I am battling mealybugs in my sun room. The little buggers are mostly attacking the clivia lilies, amaryllis, and aloe plants. I think they hitched a ride on some African violets that I got at either WalMart or Frank's or maybe a jade plant that I bought on clearance. Those violets and the jade plant perished last year and I took measures to clean things up, but I see I've not quite finished the job.

Of particular concern to me right now is one of the clivia's. I've noticed the mealy bugs hide down in the crevices around the 'crown' of the plant, where it is difficult to see them until the plant starts to show serious decline. I've sprayed with a pyrethrium (sp) spray a few times. I'm not sure it is helping, so my next step may be to totally cleanse the plant by repotting it, and while it is 'bare rooted', give it a thorough washing then repot it in a new pot with fresh potting soil. Not a task that will be easy, especially in the winter when I can't just do it all outside. But, I think it must be done soon.

I'm just grateful that for whatever reason, the orchids and night-blooming cereus seem to not be infested. Gads, what a mess!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


About a week before Christmas, I realized I had not purchased any hyacinth bulbs for forcing in hyacinth vases. I checked several 'discount' stores to see if they had some still in stock, but no luck. So, on a bright Sunday afternoon, I went to a local greenhouse and they still had some bulbs that they were planning to also start in vases. I bought two packs, which was about 20 bulbs, and also purchased a bag of crocus corms for forcing, oh and an amaryllis bulb even though I had already purchased 3 of these elsewhere. I also discovered that even on a busy shopping day on the weekend before Christmas, when the mall is packed and there is no parking, you can still go to a greenhouse, have your choice of parking spots and get individual one on one attention from the sales staff!

After the holidays, once I had taken down the Christmas tree and safely packed up all of the holiday trimmings, I got out my dozen or so hyacinth vases collected over several years, and three tiny crocus vases, and started my bulbs and corms. Those I had left over, I went ahead and potted up into several pots. Already I am seeing lots of roots and shoots starting to come out. I'm looking forward to the scent I'll have once all of these are blooming. And, I have enough pots of them to share with family and friends!

Already blooming in the sun room are one of four amaryllis bulbs, a zygopetalum orchid (which has quite a scent), another orchid that I don't know the name of and a couple of African violets given to me as a Christmas gift. Yet to bloom, but with buds, are a velvet orchid and another orchid that I also don't know the name of it, but it has a striped leaf. I can't resist variegated and striped leave plants, which is why I own that orchid!

My next 'gardening chore' is to go through all the seed catalogs and put in an order for this year's seeds. While I am at it, I am thinking of ordering a Meyer Lemon Tree. I saw a gardening show with a feature about this and it seems like something I should have!