Friday, April 25, 2014

A Few Flowers

So it's been super busy around here lately – busier than usual, that is.  Each day it seems as if there is always something going on in my other life (you know – the one that has nothing to do with the garden) & this has been throwing me off my gardening game.  Ok, who am I kidding…I don’t think I have ever been on top of things when it comes to the garden.  There’s always something that needs doing and, usually, I’m behind.  Sometimes, waaaay behind.  Case in point – I am growing marigolds from seed this year & I just noticed that I should have sown them at the end of March.  Oh well – better late than never!  At the very least, it will be a learning experience so that I know what to do (or not do) next year.  And the 1st mistake I corrected was to update my garden calendar with the sowing date.

I had never seen marigold seeds before so I was fascinated when I opened the packet.  The seeds are long & wispy – not at all what I was expecting.



Marigold Seeds
The variety I am growing is “Flame - Janie Series” which is a 9” dwarf with earlier & more continuous flowering than other dwarfs according to William Dam Seeds.

The instructions indicated that they should be just pressed onto the soil - so that is what I did.  I then gave each cell a light covering of vermiculite & placed it in the tray on the heat mat.

On to nasturtiums - I love nasturtiums.  The flowers are wonderfully vibrant and the leaves have always captivated me – they are so beautifully flat and the way water beads on them is just mesmerizing.  So I have decided to grow some.  But in the back of my mind I’m a little concerned that I may actually be creating problems.

I have not had any issue with aphids in the vegetable beds so far but apparently aphids love nasturtiums.  In fact they are often considered a trap crop, luring aphids away from other plants.  My hope is that the nasturtiums will be a beautiful (and tasty!) addition to the raised beds.  My worry is that they will end up being aphid magnets – in essence saying “hey guys – over here!”  I’m not putting them all over the vegetable garden, mind you.  They will be in one particular spot - but still….

The thing is, I kind of have my heart set on having them, so I am ignoring my concerns and growing them anyway – I REALLY hope I don’t regret this later.

The variety I decided to grow (“Tip Top Alaska”) has marble foliage so I am doubly excited about those leaves!  I soaked the seeds for 24 hours & pre-germinated them.  So far so good - all 4 seeds germinated.  I sowed them in cell packs and they are now on the light stand.  I started the seeds one week ago and at this stage, I have one that has poked out of the soil.



Nasturtium Seedling
And lastly in the flower lineup is sunflowers.  These have never been on my list of desired plants although I’m not exactly sure why.  I guess they just seemed too large & overpowering compared to other plants/flowers.  Then last year, my kids brought home sunflower seedlings that they grew in class.  They planted them in one of the vegetable beds & the sunflowers started to grow – and grow – and grow.  And we were all fascinated by them - the anticipation as the plant grew taller and taller, the way the petals unfurled to reveal the seed head and the amazing patterns created by the seeds themselves.  I gotta say, it was pretty awesome.  And so sunflowers have now been added to my list of annual must-haves.  I wanted to start out with a sunflower that was known for having lots of tasty seeds, so I chose "Giant Grey Stripe".  I decided to sow the seeds in paper coffee cups instead of cell packs ’cause it just seems wrong to use a tiny cell pack for such large seeds.

The one issue that I did have last year with the sunflowers was that they were super hard to pull up at the end of the season.  In fact, we still have a sunflower stump in one of the beds.  I tried to pull it up before I placed plastic on the beds earlier this month, but it was probably still frozen several inches down & wouldn’t budge.  So this year, I am not going to put them in a raised bed.  Not sure yet WHERE I am going to put them – all I know is that I have 3 sunflowers to plant somewhere.

The unfortunate part about not planting them in a raised bed is that the beds get regular watering.  In the past I have been notoriously bad at remembering to water plants that are anywhere else – which is why most of the flower beds have perennials that can withstand a week or two with no water.  The few times I tried adding some annuals to the perennial beds either the rabbits got to them or I forgot to water – either way they were goners.  This year, however, I am determined to be more conscientious about watering.  I guess we shall see how it goes.

Till next time…
 

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

2 comments:

  1. Good luck with your flowers! I'm sticking to growing 90% perennials this year because I can't imagine having to deal with this much seed starting every year.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! And no kidding about the seed starting - I prefer putting most of my seed starting efforts into vegetables with just a sprinkling of flowers.

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