Saturday, February 22, 2014

Salvia, Cleome, and Others Start Now

This is about the correct time to start any plant that takes a long time to flower or fruit if you wish it to be in full bloom (or full fruit) by the middle of the season.

For me, the cleome are already sprouted and under the lights in the cellar, as are the Easter eggplant.  The Salvia farinacea and Salvia splendens are planted and spending a half day each on the heating mat.  Once those are complete, the Melampodium (butter daisy) will begin.

Those cover the flowers I grow that benefit from longer growing periods. 

Once those are complete, we'll be moving into early March and there will be 8 to 10 weeks left before planting.  At that point, the tallest of the fast growers will be started, which this year includes the Envy zinnia, a tall and very chartreuse flower.

Friday, February 21, 2014

First Sprout

It was actually two days ago, but I wanted to make certain it wasn't a weed.  It's difficult to tell the difference when the plant, like the cleome, is very small when it first sprouts.

It's definitely cleome, and most of the cells (I planted 24) have sprouts in them at this point.  The ones that don't are at the edge of the flat, don't receive quite so much heat from the seed sprouting mat, and will be along shortly.

The Easter eggplant began to sprout today as well, much faster and much more reliably than last season.  However, all the current seeds are descended off of plants that sprouted under my care and successfully grew in the garden, so that tends to be typical.

I started the Salvia farinacea "Rhea" yesterday.  They also benefit from a longer growing season before being planted outside.

I'll start the Melampodium (butter daisy) this weekend, followed closely by the red salvia.  While that ends the series that enjoys a longer growing period, the date at that point is late enough that even the short-growth plants can start.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Garden Planting Begins

Yes, we did get nearly twenty inches of snow yesterday, with more on the way tonight.  Yes, I'd have to dig through that to even find the gardens at the moment.  No, I'm not going to do that.

However, it's time to start the plants for spring!  Traditionally, in this household, the cleome begins on Valentine's Day as it benefits from three full months to grow.  I've also begun the Easter eggplant as it would benefit from an extra week more than I gave it last year.

As of right now, both have been pulled in from the garage (where the seeds were vernalizing in near-freezing temperatures) and set on the heating mat, which will raise the soil temperature to eighty in just a few hours.

Cleome benefits from temperature oscillation as well, so I'll turn off the heater tomorrow morning and start it again on Saturday evening.  That process will continue until the seeds sprout, which doesn't take terribly long if they were vernalized.  The cleome should be fully sprouted by mid-week, at which point I'll begin the Salvia farinacea, which also requires a longer growing time before planting in May.

Snow on the Lawn

Since there's currently two feet of snow out there atop the lawn and it's still coming down fast, this comes to mind.  We're certainly not going to be leaving the house tomorrow.

There's very little you can do to prepare your lawn for a heavy snowfall as it will already be dormant by the time snowfalls of that depth occur.  The best preparation is in fall, and to winterize the lawn with about 1 pound of nitrogen per thousand to make certain it has the stored carbohydrates to get through the season.

Similarly, there is no effective treatment.  Shoveling would take a very long time and runs the risk of damaging root systems if you accidentally shovel too deeply.  The problem also arises of where to put the snow.

The only thing you can do is wait out Mother Nature and hold on for spring.  Once it melts and the soil warms, the grass will return and probably be no worse for the experience!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Happy Solar Spring!

February 5th marks the beginning of Solar Spring, the 12 weeks of the year when the daylight period increases the fastest in the northern hemisphere.  Roughly, the period starts with Groundhog's Day and ends with May Day (for historical and calendar reasons, the periods are slightly out of synch).

Although the weather here is definitely still winter, and contains the possibility of significant snow over the next week, at least it's nice to notice the lengthening days!


Vernalization is adjusting seeds to a winter environment, which can be useful for seeds that require a cold period before sprouting.  With the seeds I have, only the cleome benefits significantly from it, while the Easter eggplant finds it mildly helpful but not necessary.  However, since I have to vernalize the cleome, the Easter eggplant goes along for the ride.

The process is very simple.  Place the seeds in their starter trays and moisten them just as you would when sprouting any other seed.  The place the starter tray in a cool to cold environment, by preference one that doesn't regularly freeze.  I use the garage and keep the trays toward the interior wall.  Temperatures may occasionally drop below freezing, but generally stay around 32.

The refrigerator can be another good place to vernalize seeds if a garage isn't handy, and you can put them in a damp, covered glass.

Vernalization generally requires about six weeks in the colder environment.  Post that period, remove whenever you like and grow normally.

Any seed from any tropical or sub-tropical plant will never require vernalization and at best won't benefit from it.  Marigolds, zinnia, salvia, celosia, and most other common summer garden plants don't require vernalization and may not survive in low temperatures.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Lawn and Garden: Early February

Normally I would have posted several shots of the very green grass as compared to the rest of the neighborhood.  This year, that's not going to happen.

When it isn't snowing, it's incredibly cold.  When it's not incredibly cold, it's snowing.  The grass is still amazingly green, but buried under (currently) six inches of snow, with more to come yet this week.

At the very least, I've vernalized the cleome and Easter eggplant seeds.  From Christmas night to now they've been in the garage on the face nearest the interior of the house, experiencing winter.   I'll bring them in around Valentine's Day and begin sprouting both, then start other plants as there's room on my seed sprouting heater.

Here's the current grass and garden photo.  As always, click to embiggen.

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