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Friday, May 31, 2013

Seedling Ventures, or What's Sprouting Now

I started out 5 years ago attempting to germinate and grow many native and ornamental plants.  The first year or so I had some successes and many failures, either to germinate or to then get to grow on in the garden.   So this, my fifth year, I research germination carefully and have been having more successes at least to start out.   I've nearly finished transplanting my latest crop of seedlings.  Some of these are from packets of California hardy annuals that I will be sowing mostly in the Fall, but I thickly sowed some now to see if they would also succeed in the Spring, here transplanted to individual pots-

I also thickly sowed some Aquilegia 'Crystal Star' seeds, after having very poor germination of A. vulgaris 'Woodside variegata', only to have every seed sprout.    Sorry about the blurry photo, but it gives an idea how closely they were packed, and had to be teased apart.

I was amazed and happy not to lose any of them, I love Columbines.   24 seedlings from one 2 1/4" pot!

Browallia also sprouted way past my expectations.  The crowded seedlings were a little tricky to separate, but did very well, 20 seedlings from one 2 1/4" pot.
And now, almost up to the lights-

One great surprise was to have 2 out of 5 Passiflora incarnate seeds sprout, after having them at 40*F in the refrigerator for 2 months, then 2 months under lights, at which point I had given up on them and neglected to water them much.  I hope they will be big enough to plant outside in the fall, which can be a good time to transplant, but can also end in failure of the plant to make it through the winter.  Everything is an experiment, unless I can find good growing information on the internet.

Here they are now, with some Meyer Lemons I grew from fruit from the store.  The trick with citrus is to plant the seeds straight out of the fruit without letting them dry out.

Some other challenging seeds are Primulas.   I managed to grow P. veris and P. Victoriana Silver Lace Black last year by refrigerating them for a month planted in pots, and in sandwich bags, then after taking them out they germinated very well, and I planted them out in the fall and put a tunnel over them for the winter, and was surprised that they survived and went on to bloom.

This year I tried P. capitata 'Noverna Deep Blue' from Thompson and Morgan.   I was appalled to open the packet and find the seeds were like specks of dust, mostly stuck down in the creases of the packet edge, so I had to pull the whole thing apart to get them out, and the alleged count of 25 only about 18.  They used to put small seeds in glassine envelopes. :-(  So I put all the seeds I could find in one pot, and was surprised to see them come up in 7 days or so, so small they were barely visible.  They did keep growing.   I usually mist seeds twice a day but tried using a dropper bottle instead because it is easier, and very gentle.   Here they are after getting some true leaves-

I was very nervous about trying to separate and handle the tiny seedlings, but I only lost perhaps the 2 or 3 tiniest.  They are slowly getting bigger, yay!

I also tried P. auricula 'Viennese Waltz', the seeds were larger but the germination was poorer, here they are just transplanted last night, surprisingly smaller than 'Noverna'-

A third, Primula Candelabra hybrids mixed, I am trying needed chilling, and I checked it after 3 weeks and had a sprout, so took them out and a few more have come up, still very small.

Another plant I was very excited to germinate is Heliopsis helianthoides var scabra 'Sunburst variegated', which has very strange chlorotic leaves except for the green veins.  Fabulous!  I hope it will be one that will make it in the garden.

My last experiment was to try some Gibberellic Acid on some seeds that had been difficult before.  I probably messed up on the dilution, perhaps too dilute, but for Eryngium leavenworthii, I had only a couple of seeds germinate my first try, and with the GA3 there were 6, so an improvement, and I soaked Lupines that were pricked with a needle or scraped with a knife if they didn't swell at first, then most did swell, and have had pretty good germination both in a pot and direct seeded in the ground.   One can be seen to have a seedling root starting already-

 I don't have a comparison with other Lupines I have tried, but have had a hard time with other small hard legume seeds in the past.   Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  If you would like to present some of your sprouting successes, "What's Sprouting Now", write them up and put your link in a comment, then link back to my blog in your post.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Gardening Calendar- Beans

The bean season began for me with my early heirloom wax bean, Pisarecka Zlutoluske, soaked 3 days and planted out around April 15, now showing nice growth.  Most beans can't take cool soil and will rot, but not PZ.

After about 5 weeks PZ is doing well, and I seeded some more bush snap beans May 8 that have just come up.  PZ are the larger seedlings down the middle.  On the right is a new bush dry bean called Spanish Tolosana, renowned as a good cooking bean, and  at the top, Marconi nano Italian black-seeded Romano beans, and some little white-seeded pencil-thin and fast-developing beans, Speedy, and some more pencil-thin purple beans, Velour-
The sprouts on the left are mostly self-sown Borage, most of which will get pulled, and also some Lupines that I am growing as a poisonous hedge against possible rabbit interlopers that ate a lot of my young bean plants last year, though not in this bed.  At the bottom is what's left of a large Columbine, and another at the top of the photo, that volunteered in the middle of my garden bed, but I love Columbines too much to rip them out.  After the growing season is over I may dig them and try to transplant them elsewhere.  They turned out to be monster plants with many bloom stalks.

The beans above are regular bush beans, Phaseolus vulgaris, but I have also just planted a different species of beans, which are called runner beans, Phaseolus coccineus, which make larger pods and are distinguished by the seed leaves being left in the ground when the bean sprouts.  They are usually dark purple and black beans with red flowers that the hummingbirds love, but this year I am trying white-seeded varieties to see if they are more tender, and they will have white flowers, so I hope the hummingbirds are not too bummed out.   Bianca di Spagna, somewhat slug-eaten-

Last week around May 25 I planted more bush snap beans- Purple Queen, cold-tolerant; Kinghorn wax, wide yellow wax beans; heirloom Yer Fasulyasi, a brown-seeded Romano bush bean that makes nice succulent pods; and also some heirloom half-runner beans that will need some supporting trellising to about 3+', Pink Peanut (aka Old Joe Clark) and Woods Mountain Crazy beans.

My next bean plantings will need to be by or close to my last bean deadline, June 15, though fast-maturing bush beans or Grandma Robert's Purple Pole beans can be planted a little later and still mature seeds.  They will be regular pole beans- North Carolina Speckled Long Greasy Cutshort, heirloom, new to me; Jembo Polish, beautiful seeds, heirloom, new to me; Grandma Robert's Purple, the earliest pole bean I grow; Annelino Giallo, curved yellow Italian bean; Uncle Steve's, heirloom Italian striped bean; and Super Marconi, wide Italian Romano bean, and probably some more bush beans as well.   I may also grow a mystery round purple pole bean that  came up in some Italian bush beans I grew 2 years ago, with black seeds spotted white which I discussed with a photo here, along with other beans mentioned in this post.

June 15 is also the deadline for other warm season vegetables, like squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes, though I start them and get them out in the garden earlier under TunLCovers.

I started out as mostly an edible gardener, but eventually branched out into lots of flowers and perennials, because variety gives the pollinating and predatory insects the food and shelter they need, and beauty and fragrance add so much to life, but beans are my favorite vegetable crop, so I'm looking forward hopefully to another great bean season, I promise there is nothing as yummy in the grocery store!   And not much as rewarding to grow!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wildflower Wednesday May 2013

Welcome to Wildflower Wednesday, to see hostess Gail's post on Scentless Mock-Orange, join her and other posters at Clay and Limestone.

This month there are quite a few native plants blooming in my yard, one of the least conspicuous is Nemophila parviflora, a tiny annual that grows into a 2' vine, with tiny white flowers and incised leaves-

Nemophila parviflora is in the Borage Family, along with several other local native plants, and in the subfamily Hydrophylloideae, the Waterleaf subfamily.  It winds it way through the understory growth and is found along the west coast from Washington to California.  It grows in my yard in places where Douglas Fir were logged, especially in places where I have weeded out a lot of the berry vines.

A plant I had wanted for many years turned out to be growing mixed in with some Salal in my yard, and I found it when weeding a couple of years ago- Lonicera ciliosa, native Orange Honeysuckle.   It has blue-green glaucous foliage, and the last pair of leaves below the flowers are fused into a bowl shape.  They can have around 20 tubular flowers in a cluster, opening sequentially, and are liked by hummingbirds.

In the fall they have clusters of bright red berries-

Well, enjoy the wildflowers that grow in your yard, or plant some!


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Foliage Follow-up May 2013

Hi, this is my first Foliage Follow-Up, so here is a link to hostess Pam at Digging.  Thanks for hosting!

Cutleaf weeping Japanese Maple-

Saxifrage 'London Pride' and Oxalis adenophylla-

Cotinus coggygria-

Sweet Woodruff and Pink Panda Strawberries-

Geranium 'Ann Folkard'

I love those mounding Geraniums, great for shading out the weeds.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day May 2013

Welcome to my May flower display, to see what's blooming in other gardens around the world join gracious hostess Carol at May Dreams Gardens.   I'll start out with the loaded Azaleas-

The most spectacular blooms at present in my garden are the Rhododendrons.   I have been living here for 19+ years and the Rhodies are original so I don't know their age or varieties.   I have to say they are lovely for such a short time then there is a lot of dead-heading to do afterward, but I can't even reach a lot of them and the plants bloom anyway.;-)  This pair is 8' and 10' tall.

Flowers on the near 10' one, first to bloom-

Flowers on the 8' one-

A better look at the whole bush-

Magenta one that is 7-8' tall but 12' wide, it likes to sprawl-

Front garden Rhodies-

First and last rose to bloom every year and THORNLESS is Queen of my roses, Zephirine Drouhin,  I think she's a couple of weeks earlier than usual thanks to all the really warm weather we've had-

Peachy Reve d'Or, quite annoyingly thorny, prolific-

White with slight blush, La Biche-

Other flowers blooming now are tree peonies, an NOID white one-

And a NOID magenta one, much more floriferous and mounding in habit-

This is Paeonia suffruticosa, which has been blooming well for many years,

And Paeonia delavayi 'Rubra' which is the same age but had it's first blooms this year, it was worth the wait-

My Geums are blooming and subject of a former post.  

But the garden that always means spring to me is rampant with seed-grown and self-sown frilly double petticoat-like and dwarf Biedermeier Columbines in many colors, as well as Forget-Me-Nots and remnants of Anemones.  It seems like a faerie or fantasy garden, springing up without care, and slowly getting closer to be weed-free thanks to the geraniums.

Tall bearded Irises are beginning to bloom, I'm partial to bitones and bicolors-
Tall bearded Ocelot, great color combination-

A delight is the fragrant early Citron Daylily, Hemerocallis citrina, floriferous and rapidly multiplying-

And I can't forget some valiant warriors against weed, hardy geraniums, G. sanguineum-

And one that self-sows a lot, G. oxonianum, and has a longer blooming season, with some Lady's Mantle, a weed-suppressing combination-

That concludes my "What's blooming now", isn't Spring great!