Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sowed some tropicals

We had two inches of snow today by noon. Rain turned it to slush by 4 pm, and 2 hours of sun melted it all away by 6 pm. Didn't stop me from sowing my heat loving tropicals.

Sowed two 2" pots each of:
- Eggplant Twinkle Hybrid (Solanum melongena)
- Peppers (Capsicum annum)
Early Jalapeno (hot)

Miniature Chocolate Bell (sweet mini)

California Wonder 300 (sweet)

Italian Pepperoncini (fancy sweet)

The annual collared dahlias sown a month ago have outgrown their 4" pots. Each soil mass was lightly tapped out of the pot and the plants gently separated from one another, with extra care taken to avoid any damage to the root system of each seedling. I filled about sixteen 2" pots with either one big seedling or two smaller seedlings. Seeing as it did snow today, it may have been too early for them to be outside, even in my cold frame. We'll see how they do.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

True Leaves!

The first sets of true leaves are emerging less than 2 weeks after sowing. From here on, the plant will begin to photosynthesize more strongly and the growth rate will really pick up. Each pot has now been thinned down to the strongest seedling. As the first leaves began to emerge, each seedling was watered with a shot of balanced 3-3-3 Dr. Earth's Organic liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength. This light feeding with be repeated about every 2 weeks, or every other watering, to encourage robust growth.




Sugar snap and snow peas from 3 weeks ago have been hardening off outside in my little cold frame for 5 days and are just about ready to transplant into the garden - perhaps this weekend.

This weekend will also bring more bed preparation and weeding at the garden plots. More seeds to be sown as well!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Germinating seeds

So here are the plants from the seeds sown 3/15 after 5 days with bottom heat at 75-80 degrees, thinned to the 3 strongest plants per pot:

I tried to sow 3-4 seeds in each pot where eventually there will be just one seedling. When all seeds have germinated in any particular pot, the pot is moved off of the heat pad and out from under the clear plastic cover into strong light (four 48" florescent tubes in my case). The 3 strongest plants are retained in each pot, and the weakest is snipped off at the soil level - so sorry.

Thinning is important as each tiny start should never have to compete with another for light or nutrients. Snipping out the weaker seedlings, rather than pulling them out, protects the retained seedling(s) from possible collateral root disturbance or damage. These seedlings will grow on until the first true leaves emerge, then be thinned to the strongest one plant in each pot. These have come along much quicker than I thought they would.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Beginning....

Here's what our garden looks like as of this afternoon. Compare it to the picture at the top of the page!

Summer vegetables

Yesterday was a big day for our summer veggies. Sowed lots of seed:

- four 2" pots Copra Hybrid onion (long keeper)
- two 2" each Guardsman onion (salad onion) and Purplette (bunching or keeper)
- two 4-packs Buttercrunch lettuce
- four 2" pots Sorrento broccoli (early spring raab)
- four 2" pots Derby Day cabbage (early cabbage)
- one 2" pot each of 8 tomato varieties:
Stupice (ultra early 2" fruit)
Sun Gold hybrid (sweet, orange cherry)
Oroma (italian sauce)
Cherokee Purple (heirloom)
Super Marzano Hybrid (sauce/drying Roma )
Cabernet (small red grape)
First Lady II hybrid (early slicer)
Brandywine (THE heirloom tomato to which all others are compared)

Started a bunch of flowers in 4" pots in the same manner as a week ago.

- Columbine (aquilegia 'McKana's Giants')
- Coreopsis 'Plains' (Coreopsis Tinctoria)
- Butterfly Chantilly Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus)
- Bells of Ireland (Moluccella laevis)
- Pride of Gibraltar Cerinthe (Cerinthe major atropurpurea)
- Dwarf Dahlia 'Unwin's mix'
- Dahlia 'Fireworks'


I must have taken good care of them this year cause a bunch of my orchids are sending up spikes or blooming - 5 in all! 3 of them I bought almost 3 years ago on clearance at Lowe's for $5 after they were done blooming - so I don't know what the flowers look like. Here are two of my phalaenopsis.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


So I went for it and got a seed heating mat. Basically a waterproof plastic sheet can be plugged in and raises ambient temps by 10-15 degrees. I got the size that will heat 2 10"-20" flats. For my "closet garden" that hovers around 65 degrees, this brings me right into the recommended germination temperature for most seeds - from 75-80. After sowing my seeds, many germinated and were up within 4 days.

This picture from a few days ago shows my flat of 4" flower pots on the left, my lavender cuttings, and 6 pots of peas. How exciting.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Spring Cleaning

Even though the soil was still a bit too wet, today we went ahead and prepared our first bed. Our process for spring bed preparation is as follows (this is for NEW beds - or in our case, an established bed that has not been properly prepared for many years):

- First, weed entire bed.
- Make sure soil is dry enough to work by collecting a handful and squeezing into a ball. The ball should crumble and come apart easily under pressure. If it will not form a ball at all, it is too dry. If it stays together and compresses under pressure without breaking up, it is too wet.
- Using a 12" digging fork, break up soil by plunging fork all the way down and pulling back, moving back 4" each time, across the entire bed.
- For a clay soil, like in most of Bellingham, broadcast about 50 lbs per 1000 sq ft lime and work in deeply. Also work in 1-2 gal per 100 sq ft complete organic fertilizer (around 5-5-1).
- Add 1/4-1/2" well rotted compost and incorporate into the top 3-6".

After this was completed in plot C10, we transplanted all our perennial herbs from elsewhere in the garden. These included:

- 2 x Arp Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis 'Arp')
- 2 x Grappenhall Lavender (Lavandula x intermedia)
- Greek Oregano (
Origanum vulgare cv. hirtum)
- Hot and Spicy Oregano (Origanum vulgare cv. hot and spicy)
- Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana)
- Garden sage (Salvia officianalis)
- Tri-color sage (Salvia officianalis cv. Tri-color)

- Purple Sage (Salvia dorii)
- English Thyme (
Thymus vulgaris)

We also moved over two Alpine Strawberries and one Pineapple Strawberry (Fragaria ananassa), a very sweet (and pine-appley) yellow fruited variety.

- Sowed 5 row ft Bloomsdale Spinach under plastic tunnel cloche

Today Emily transplanted lots of flowers that I held over the winter in pots or around the garden plot. Included were a few varieties each of German Iris, Coneflower (Echinacea), and Blanket flower (Gaillardia).

I also am attempting propagation by softwood cuttings. I took 6 cuttings each from two establish lavender plants. Provence lavender (Lavandula intermedia "Provence")
and Blue Start Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoeches "Blue Star"). These will receive bottom heat for a few months until evidence of root growth.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Flowers and peas

Ok. Although I am a few days behind, I did get some of my seeds sown today. Here's the method I used to sow many different seeds in 4" pots:

- fill pot to 1/2" from rim with fine, sifted soil
- compress soil slightly to restore capillary action
- place pots in sealed tray and fill bottom with water so pots wick up water until surface glistens
- empty water from tray
- sow seeds evenly across soil surface
- cover seeds with soil to a depth of 2-3x seed diameter
- spray soil gently to moisten
- cover with clear top to maintain high humidity
- place in a 70-75 degree environment until germination

When these seeds have germinated, the cover will be removed and the tray will be placed under florescent lights 12 hrs a day. When the seedlings' first few leaves have formed and they begin to get crowded in their 4" pots, they will be broken up and potted up individually into 6 packs or 4 packs to be grown on.

Today I sowed annual flowers to give them a head start and get them into flower earlier than if I waited until after last frost (May 1) to sow outside. I also started some perennial flowers that need to be started early if flowering is expected the first growing season. I also sowed my earliest spring (lowest temperature tolerance) veggies: sugar snap and snow peas.

- Sowed three 4" pots each (about 30 seeds each ) of:
Border Pansies "Satin Boudoir" (Viola x wittrockiana)
Coneflower (Echinacea Purpurea)
Collarette Dahlia (Dahlia Variabilis)
Gazania Daybreak Tiger Stripes (Gazania splendens hybrid)
Johnny Jump-up Viola (Viola tricolor)
Bee Balm (Monarda hybrida Lambada)

- Sowed four 4" pots each (30 seeds each) of:
Oregon Sugar pod II (Snow pea)
Mega (Snap pea)