The first new radishes have been making their way into our salads over the last week — what a treat! First up is ‘Sparkler’, a tender, two-toned variety that reminds me of a flattened ‘French Breakfast.’ The later is long and elegant but only appropriate for the very deepest containers, while ‘Sparkler’ is short and squat, perfect for window boxes and smaller pots.
The trick to growing tender radishes in pots is to keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Dry soil turns out small, woody radishes. Deeper containers are easier to keep moist. If you are having trouble growing decent radishes, try supersizing your container and growing a smaller variety.
This year I am experimenting with a big wash basin that is about 8 1/2″ deep by 18″ wide. I made lots of holes in the bottom of the container with a big nail and a hammer before filling it with potting soil. I then planted the seeds in concentric circles within the container, spaced about 2 inches apart so the radishes would have room to grow. Approximately 20 or so radishes can grow in there at one time — I could have fit a few more had I not sown a patch of wild arugula in the center for the heck of it.
More About Radishes:
This year, for a myriad of reasons, I have rapidly expanded my succulent collection, most especially sempervivums, which I just can’t seem to stop myself from buying. I bought and/or acquired by other means 25 new semps this year alone in addition to a few other related succulents, many of which are hardy and some that aren’t.
Despite the sudden influx of plants I have been growing semps (aka hens and chicks) for years. They are most likely one of the very first non-edibles I grew. Just about everyone starts with them and for good reason: the plants are virtually unkillable and require almost no care. Every beginner gardener should begin here.
What’s different this year is that I have begun to collect orostachys and rosalaria, two closely related, hardy succulents that I have never grown before. Both plants look a lot like sempervivums and are grown under very similar conditions. Most literature says they can tolerate very cold conditions but I am not convinced that some of these stranger varieties are as hardy as semps. The plants come in paler colours and have a slightly softer look about them. As a result, I didn’t want to throw them in among the semps but instead had decided to give them their own space to be showcased. I had a sudden brain wave one afternoon last week when I realized that I had just the perfect pot, a vintage, emerald green dish that I have never had much luck with. Having begun life as a dish meant to hold candy or trinkets it is shallow and only suited to diminutive plants with shallow roots that can also take a bit of drought.
Top Photo from Left to Right: Orostachys minuta, Rosularia rechingeri (turkestanica), Orostachys ‘Jade Mountain’, Orostachys ‘NYBG’.
To prepare the pot for growing, I drilled a couple of 1/2″ holes in the bottom with a masonry bit meant for drilling into terracotta or brick. I used very sandy, gritty soil — a potting mix meant for growing cactus is perfect. I top-dressed after planting with tufa chips, a very light-weight rock that is often used in growing alpine plants. I got a big ziploc baggie for $5 from Wrightman’s Alpines.
This is a sempervivum I potted up at the same time in a bonsai pot that has always been too shallow to grow anything else. I love this variety’s tight rosettes and mounding form. I can’t tell from the tag if it is called ‘Granide’ or ‘Grande.’ ‘Grande’ seems all wrong given that the plant is teeny, tiny.
I bought this adorable little Primula aricula ‘Pinstripe’ the other day at the Ontario Rock Garden Society sale. It was the one plant purchased there that I didn’t really need, but couldn’t bear to leave behind.
I’m currently keeping it in a little hypertuffa pot I made years back (molded around a plastic drinking cup), until I can find a new spot for it. Ariculas have a very dedicated, if not somewhat obsessive following and I’m probably breaking all sorts rules and generally freaking people out by growing it in this way — and top-dressing with grit no-less. However, it’s my first and I’m thinking of this as a learning experience/experiment.
Overall, I’m very taken with it and will be sad when the blooms have finished.
This is one of those ideas I wish I’d thought of but didn’t. Who can remember all of the different plants and varieties one is growing at any one time? Especially when the plants are all so similar like those in this sempervivum trough.
My ÃƒÂ¼ber gardening pal Barry is behind this very smart method of keeping track of plant varieties that can work for pots or whole gardens. The other day I asked about a plant in one of his pots but he could not remember the name. He disappeared inside for a second and returned with a binder full of plastic-covered photos, each one marked with the names of plants and varieties, just like this one. Okay, possibly a bit tidier than my slapdash version, but you get the idea.
I have since adopted it for my own mixed plantings rather than burying the tags next to the plants as I often have in the past. It’s a smart and fairly simple way to keep track of plants and avoid ugly white tags that only mar your efforts to make a beautiful planting.
Sempervivums or Hens and Chicks as they are commonly called, are an incredibly hardy, and drought tolerant succulent that can take a fair amount of abuse, yet when I was starting out on my roof, they were the last plant I wanted to grow. I’d come to associate them with the few that had been slapped into the tiny front garden of my childhood home. And while I had fond memories of playing with my dolls on the pretend Martian landscape they created, my overall impression as an adult was that they lacked a certain luster.
I don’t recall how it happened, perhaps nostalgia won out, but I eventually came around to growing a few. That summer they bloomed, creating exotic, alien-like flower stalks. I was hooked and decided I would never be without them again.