Mar 15 2006

gardening

Published by at 7:35 am under daily,gardening

Ahhhh..

Spring is in the air. It has been so beautiful the last couple of days. It was really a kick in the pants to get my indoor plantings underway so they’ll be ready when it’s time to set them outside.

So, Saturday night, I got out the flat I had bought last fall along with my peat moss pellet disk thingees and set about some planting.

Just so you know, I really have no clue what I’m doing. Last year, after spending over a hundred bucks on plants for our yard, I decided that seeds were the way to go. I would buy seeds and start them indoors first! Not only is this cheaper, but damn, it sounded like a lot of fun. I have a wee bit of experience growing things indoors from seeds, I started my tomato plant that way last year, and also all my herbs. The tomato plant did fantastically, but I kept it in a pot where it quickly outgrew the pot and so stagnated it’s growth. This year, I’m going to plant them straight into the ground after they’re started.

The herbs did well, but same problem. I used fairly small, plastic pots that prevented them from getting very big. I also set themoutside, where they got knocked off the porch and then I would not miss them until a month went by, and then I’d wonder, “Where did my basil go?” and have to fish it out of the bushes. (Shhh. I think the basil is still there.) I did use the herbs quite a bit though, and having them fresh was very nice. Last fall I bought some heavy earthen (but still pretty) pots to move my herbs into after they’ve gotten a good start. I’m also going to try to remember to move them indoors before fall so I can keep them alive all winter.

So, back to seeds. Fun, right? Then I got the bright idea, why buy them? Why not just harvest them? So I started collecting seeds from my garden – it was a lot of fun, actually. I gathered a lot of impatiens seeds, which are fun, and yet tricky. After the flower falls off, a small green pod forms and it starts to swell bigger and bigger, and turns a lighter green color while the seeds inside ripen. Soon, the pod is so close to bursting, that if anything brushes up against it, it will go SPROING!!! and break open in such a way that the seeds inside are scattered everywhere. Nature. Cool, huh! Tricky for actually COLLECTING the seeds though. If you grab it before it’s ready you can actually GET the seeds, but then the seeds aren’t ready. If you wait until they’re ready, the process of grabbing the pod can make it bust open and thus, you lose all the seeds. I would go out with my scissors and cut the pod off directly into a little cup. Then if it busted when it hit the bottom of the cup, no biggie, I’ve collected the seeds in the process. Often, I would carry in a little cup of pods and Ethan and I would have lots of fun busting them open in the cup and watchign the seeds SPROING! everywhere.

Petunia seeds are pretty neat also. The pod hardens and then opens up a bit when the seeds are ready, until it looks like it’s smiling. then you just pick the pod and try to dump the seeds out. Handy.
Impatiens seeds are very small, and kind of light brown in color. If I tried to collect from a pod that wasn’t ready, they would be super small, in very pale, and I would usually just discard them, as they probably weren’t viable. I took this photo Saturday when I planted, and it was night, so it’s not the best quality.

I did 4 sections (9 little “wells” in a section) of impatiens (yes, that’s a crapload of plants). I started out with just 2 seeds in each “well” (I have no idea what it’s called, the spot for each plant, i now dub thee, “WELL!”), and then started to doubt my seeds as I went along and started thinking about how bummed I am going to be if nothing comes up. So then I just started putting in however many stuck to the chopstick I was using, which was about 4-6 seeds in each well.

The first section I planted red salvia, and the next section, purple salvia. I had a beautiful little plant in my hanging basket that I bought without any labels, so I had no idea what it was. My neighbor across the street had the same thing, except hers were red. Some research later, I decided I it was “salvia.” I collected seeds both from my plant, and from my neighbors. I kept my basket throughout the season, but it was sickly and not doing great in the heat of the summer. It perked up and did much better in the late summer after it had cooled off. We’ll see if any of my collected seeds are viable.

The last 2 sections, I did day lilies. Some I collected from my yellow day lilies, and some from my neighbor Selena, but most of these seeds… Well, there’s no easy way of saying it. I stole them. I am a SEED THIEF!! Last fall, we visited my folks out in utah, and there were several trips to Liberty park in Salt Lake City. Well, they had beds and beds of daylilies that had gone to seed and were literally perfect for collecting from. Collecting seeds from daylilies is such fun, except that the seed itself is a little scary looking. The picture I have is crap, unfortunately, but they are on the large side, with a glossy, shiney black hard coat. They are a little wrinkly, and when you are looking at them in a dried side pod, ready to shake out, well.. they look like ugly little black bugs. They’re a little freaky, let me tell you! The freakiness continues even into planting. I beleive I stuck to 2 seeds per well for the day lilies.

So, one flat is all planted. I need to hop on the ball and get another flat planted, but honestly, I’m not sure waht I want, exactly. I also don’t know where I would put the flat where kids and kitties won’t meddle with it. I have purple petunia seeds that I collected from my petunias, but I’m not sure I really want petunias this year. They were beautiful, but they required a good bit of work in dead-heading and care. The impatiens were definitely a big hit last year, but I am not too keen on the color I had, which was pink. Definitely a big show of color though, mid season, and they lasted all season long, if a little droopy in the super hot periods.

Here is the mini flat I planted about 10 days ago. The three in back are tomato plants (which at least one of them has Tamara’s name on it!), the front left is rosemary, which hasn’t put in an appearance yet – the seeds I have for rosemary I am beginning to suspect aren’t viable. Then we have sage, and parsley (italian flat-leaf) which are looking happy and itty bitty and wee. So cute. After I initially planted them, I stuck the entire thing in a plastic grocery bag and tied teh top and stuck it on top of my refridgerator for a while. After a week I peeked in and lo, they were growing (excpet for the damn rosemary), so I put them on my sunny window, though a bit blocked by my forced bulbs.

As I stated before, these will be going into pots, some possibly sharing a pot – except for the tomaters – those will be going into the ground. I would also like to get a raspberry bush to plant outside – I would love to get my own berries and make jam! Oh yum! I am not sure exactly where it would go though.. They tend to spread, so it would have to be somewhere where I can get in and rototil around it, to prevent spreading. So before I plant more, I need to determine where exactly everything is going, and then plan accordingly. I need to do me some sketching.

I love gardening. I don’t know much, and I’m making it up as I go, but it is lots of fun.

And I need to hurry up, because spring has definitely sprung!!

– amy patiently ignores the fact that snow is a possibility in the forecast for next weekend.

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