Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Start of the Season

Well...sort of!  Our temperatures are set to rise into the high fifties and sixties this weekend and onward (more or less May in April...again this year).  I gave the Thuja and trees a light feeding since their roots are already awake (and in the Thuja's case, they're green and starting to perk up for spring).

In this case, I used some leftover Vigoro 29-0-4 mixed with quite a bit of Milorganite to give both a quick spike of nitrogen and an extended feeding through April.

I also purchased two packets of seeds--Mammoth sunflowers, the monsters that reach 15', and Chianti sunflowers, which grow to about 5' tall and bloom dark red.  While Chianti sunflowers are poor performers compared to some other varieties, they should do well enough for where I want them.  It's not a location connected to the main gardens.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Nearing the End Game

If you've been following along, you might remember that I miscalculated my number of plants by 1 flat.  I ordered some Harlequin dahlia and Janie Flame marigold to fill that in, and I still have about a third of a flat of scarlet zinnia to go in there as well.  Those haven't arrived, but should be here late this week or early next week, or in plenty of time.

The last of the current marigolds, Janie yellow and Janie orange, are sprouting now and almost ready to go downstairs under the lights.  Everything else is already growing away down there, and the Easter Eggplant are actually getting fairly large.

I'm idly considering purchasing some red sunflower from my local grocery and cup starting those.  Although tall, and not as long-season as I'd like, they might make an interesting accent in a few locations.

I did try some China Town celosia this year, and they sprouted well but didn't transfer to the four leaf stage very effectively.  I'll have about half a flat opening up shortly when I transplant those into contiguous cells.  I do have plenty of leftover seeds, ten of this, eight of that, to fill in.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

All Plants Start Now

Today marks 8 weeks until the end of frost, so for people in my gardening zone you can plant any seed you have.  There's pretty much nothing that will overgrow the planting cells in that amount of time.

Except sunflower.  Those you may wish to start in cups as they grow very quickly and dislike being transplanted.

As of today, the first of the Magellan zinnia started.  Post this, I'll be planting marigolds, which fortunately don't require the full eight weeks (but do benefit from as much time as you can give them, so I'll shoot for six weeks or more).

Right now, there are six flats under the lights, two in my office sprouting, and four to go.  At some point, probably early next week, I'll add a third to my office sprouting and perhaps a fourth.

Seeds that required longer periods should already be well-sprouted and into the four leaf stage.  At that point, you can (very gently) feed them if you wish to.  I fed very, very lightly today, 1/2 tsp of Miracle Gro in 2 gallons of water.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The First Zinnia

Technically, the first of the smaller zinnia.  I'd started the Park's Deep Red and Envy zinnia at the beginning of the month.  Both are now under the lights downstairs and the third rack of lights is now on.

As of today, I started the Persian Carpet zinnia as well as the Profusion zinnia (yellow, orange, and fire).  While it's still a bit early and these will be extremely well-developed by the time they're ready to plant out, I don't have much choice.

Since I start 12 flats of plants, I have a limited time period to get everything started.  This is now the sixth flat complete and either already sprouted and growing or on the heater and working on sprouting.  That leaves six more flats to plant, sprout, and grow before early May.

So while I'm forced to start my smaller plants early, you still have some time.  Short zinnia and marigold will do fine with four to six weeks before planting date.  Eight to nine weeks simply gives them time to get very, very large (but conversely more difficult to adjust to life outside).

Next up, the Janie marigolds.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Most Plants Start Now

Plants that only take a very short time to grow, such as shorter zinnia and marigold, can be held and started as late as April first, but there's no disadvantage if you start these now as well.

Taller zinnia, marigolds, and most other plants benefit from eight weeks to grow until planting out, which means starting right about now is the correct time.

As of now, the cleome and Easter eggplant are growing downstairs under the lights.  I recently added the Salvia farinacea "Rhea" and Salvia splendens (various red parents) to the growing rack as well.  While small, they'll grow!

The taller zinnia are starting now, along with the Melampodium and celosia, which like a little more time than you might imagine (but are tolerant of not having it).  I only bought 100 celosia seeds for a 72-cell flat, so I'm most likely going to have to find something else for the cells that inevitably don't sprout (this also involves pricking out baby plants and moving them into groups of cells to avoid mixing species inside a single 6-pack).

Next up, the shorter zinnia start, followed by the marigolds which are last on the list.  The majority of my marigolds are Janie as they perform beautifully in heat and blossom well from May to frost (usually late October).  They are, however, French marigold and rather short.

In other news, I think I'm a full flat short this year as I didn't plan for it correctly in early winter.  No matter, it's an excuse to haunt places in the area that sell seed and pick up several new friends or revisit old ones!

I'll take photos of the lawn and gardens once the snow finishes melting.  At the current rate, mid-March should be the starting point of the early spring season, but the first garden photos will be delayed by the weather this year.  I don't expect the first flowers until late March.