…of garbage and urine. Click on the picture to see it large.
I took this photo of my street garden late one night in late fall. It was taken using a swing lens panoramic camera. The tall plant with the large, tropical-looking foliage is plume poppy a rather invasive perennial I have complained about often yet love to death. After The Fall, the plume poppy will be the last plant standing.
Question: I bought several cheap bags of daffodils and tulips on clearance this past December but didn’t get them into the ground on time. Spring is right around the corner, can I still plant them?
Don’t toss those bulbs! Despite all the fuss about proper planting times, most bulbs are hardy little packages that can be saved with some minor intervention. Heaps of bulbs are hard on the wallet — off-season specials are a smart way to create an endless parade of spring blooms on the cheap. Of course, some bulbs are on sale for a reason, so choose firm, plump bulbs and leave shriveled or moldy bulbs at the store.
Dutch bulbs such as daffodils and tulips require some chill time before spring planting. Daffodils require approximately 12-16 weeks, while tulips call for a lengthy 14-20 weeks. Stash your bulbs bare inside mesh or paper bags and pop them into your refrigerator’s crisper drawer. Keep them away from apples or other ripe fruit since the ethylene gas they emit can cause your bulbs to rot. Take a peek every once and a while to be sure they haven’t mummified in the bag — good ventilation is key. Don’t freak out if they start to grow gnarly sprouts — a living bulb is a good bulb! And if they do nothing: that’s okay too.
To give your bulbs an added edge, try pre-planting them into containers of potting soil. Chill in an unheated garage, cold cellar, or shed and water them now and then to help form roots right in the pot.
Try and wait until the minimum chill time has passed before planting your bulbs out in the garden. Needless to say, you stand nothing to lose if they have to go outside early. Most bulbs won’t survive a year in regular storage so better late than never. Bloom time is bound to be off schedule this year, or won’t happen at all. No worries, your plants will reschedule themselves and produce heaps of flowers next spring.
Here’s the follow-up to last week’s Toasty Pot Coaster project.
This windowsill warmer is easily crocheted much like coaster using double crochets and shell stitches as a decorative edge. Start by measuring the width and depth of your windowsill. Make chains until the width matches the width of your sill. Double crochet into each chain, making a turning chain at the end of the row (3 chains). Turn the piece around and continue double crocheting rows until your cozy is as deep as your windowsill. Shell stitch into one side to make a frilly edge that sits just over the front of the sill.
I made my cozy using a partial ball of thick and rough wool that was too scratchy to wear against bare skin. The thickness of the wool has really made an improvement, warming the plants up from the bottom. My partner Davin who happens to sit next to the window claims that it has blocked some of the chill that sneaks in through the lower part of the sill as well.
Question: I bought an all-in-one seed starting kit that is supposed to make the procedure a breeze. I’m new to this so I tried growing stuff like marigolds, pansies, and herbs but everything died! The seedlings grew tall and floppy with a couple of sad looking leaves. I propped them up but after a few days they gave up and “met their maker” so-to-speak. Can you give me some advice so I can see where I went wrong?
If your seedlings are growing tall and floppy it probably means they aren’t getting enough light. Light deficient seedlings grow tall, thin, and eventually weak as they reach towards the closest light source. This leads to sickly plants that are susceptible to the kind of disease that eventually carried your seedlings to plant heaven. In their early days, most seeds require heat rather than light to get the ball rolling. However, your seedlings will need plenty of strong light — at least 12 to 16 hours per day — once they have popped out of their shell and up through the soil.
Finding a good spot in your home can be tricky. A south-facing window will do during bright summer months, but even springtime sunshine lacks the consistently intense light that seedlings depend on.
An inexpensive fluorescent light is the best way to ensure the right start for your young flowers and herbs. Don’t break the bank on a swanky greenhouse system. Instead pick up a cheap and practical fluorescent shop light box with two fixtures (fits two tube bulbs) from your local hardware store. Get 40-watt bulbs; one cool white and one warm white and suspend the box about 4″ above your plants. Hang the light on a linked chain so you can raise it as your seedlings grow.
This setup isn’t exactly stylin’ (unless science-geek chic is your thing), but your next round of seedlings are bound to be robust, stocky and ready to make the journey outdoors.
Get It: A 4 ft shop light with built-in chain will cost around $25. at your local home improvement store. I recommend Phillips Alto T12 or T8 bulbs (about $2.50 each). Make sure your bulbs are a match for the fixture as the two aren’t interchangeable. A setup with T8 bulbs will be a slightly larger investment but are about 20% more energy efficient.
Guest post by Amy Urquhart
This morning on my blog I wrote about how we’re getting crowded out of our dining room by the sheer number of plants in there, so it seems only natural that the next thing I did this morning while drinking my coffee, and in my housecoat, no less, is root seven Rex Begonia cuttings. This means that if my project is a success, I will soon have seven more houseplants to add to the collection I complained about just this morning.
It all started when I decided to research just exactly what to do with those long, leafless necks sprawling across the surface of my Rex Begonia “Tiger Kitten”. I was very happy to find that all I needed to do was cut those back and with a little time and plant magic, my original “Tiger Kitten” would grow new leaves and eventually look as happy as it did the day I bought it at Canada Blooms two years ago.
First I took a deep breath and hacked it back. Here’s how it looked this morning in all its gangly glory before the hacking began:
And here it as after the shearing:
Here are the cuttings all ready to be potted up:
And here they are in their new homes, all dusted in rooting compound and snuggled into pots of equal parts vermiculite and pro-mix: