Saturday, July 27, 2013

Starting Pansies Part II

Equipment- dining room table lined with paper, pansy seeds, seed starting trays with pellet inserts, hot water, spray bottle, skewer, black plastic bag, scissors, marker and paper to label trays.

Trays & Skewer

I used skewer to put holes in the bottom of the egg carton.  I cut other side of carton to use as a tray.

Coir pellets inserted and hot water poured over to expand.

Hot water poured over peat pellets to expand. I did pull back mesh and loosen medium. The mesh is one of the problems I find with these pellets. I find it best to loosen the soil before sowing seeds. I allowed the medium to cool off before sowing and poured of any extra water.

Seeds sown on top of soil. I used this Swiss Giant type instead of the caramel ones I mentioned in the previous post. I liked the variety of colors. I really like the coir better. It's loose and has a nice texture.

 I spritzed the top of pellets with water from spray bottle and but the covers on. I also labeled each tray with which type of seed I planted.

I put trays in black plastic bag and put in refrigerator. I did cover the top of the egg carton with plastic first. I said I wouldn't stratify the seeds and would let them germinate at room temperature, but lets see what happens?

Starting Pansies Part I

I didn't follow my own advice and clean my seed starting containers after I used them and now I don't want to but I know I have to have clean containers, so I bought some. I noticed that places like Home Depot and other retailers who carry gardening items have already eliminated or condensed their garden sections. It's amazing how stores rush the season. There is still a lot of Summer left but stores have removed the gardening section and replace it with isles of school supplies. Next it will be a seasonal section with Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations long before the season arrives. It's frightening. I remembered this from last year and did plan to buy my seed starting medium and extra smaller seed starting containers. Most of the containers I have are 72 cells. I found that I like smaller containers because seeds germinate at different rates. When a seed germinates the cover of the container is taken off to prevent damping off. When there are still seeds to germinate that still need a moist greenhouse like environment it hard to know if they will still germinate once the top is taken off. Working with a smaller container works better for me.

When I wanted to start seeds in December last year I couldn't find seed starting medium, seeds, or trays. Of course these items can be ordered on line but who wants to wait. I could have also went to a nursery but Home Depot is closer to where I live. I have read a lot of blogs where bloggers make their own mix, maybe I will do this eventually. Some also use vermiculite or perlite as a seed starting medium but I prefer an already packaged seed starting mix. I did look for vermiculite during the Winter but it was not available in stores. I didn't see it until the Spring and the bags were huge and heavy so I didn't purchase it. I need to think about using it after my problem with fungus gnats last Winter.

This year I tried to remember to start buying before everything disappeared off the shelves until January. I normally use Jiffy seed starting mix but that disappeared off the shelves in the Spring. Miracle Grow has a seed starting mix that I already have but I didn't like it because it's like potting soil and not light like a soil less mix. It did say seed starting potting soil mix but I guess I didn't pay attention to this when I bought it last Winter. Some gardeners don't use seed starting mix but potting soil. I have thought to try this but for now I will stick to what works for me. I ended up buying a brand that Walmart sells. Home Depot only had the Miracle Grow mix. I bought five Jiffy seed starting trays. These were the last five trays in the store. They have the peat pellets. Last year the trays I bought were from Burpee and had the coir pellets.  The Burpee seed rack at Home Depot was empty and a sign attached to dismantle, I guess until late Winter when 2014 seeds come. W. Atlee Burpee & Company is in Pennsylvania I believe in Warminster not far from Philly and many of the large retail stores have Burpee seeds. This is a good time to buy patio sets because they are really discounted. I look forward to the large planters being discounted around Thanksgiving. I got some good deals discounted at 70% last year. I really don't need any more planters but I have family members who do and they will be nice gifts.

Jiffy Green House, I think I will do 2 of these trays

Saved Egg Carton

I purchased  2 packages of these last Winter to have for this Winter. They are the coir ones.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Preparation for Starting Pansies

I think I am going to start some pansies for the Fall. I still have seeds I purchased from Baker Creek and Botanical Interests. I didn't have success with these when I tried them last Winter. I planted them in seed starting medium and refrigerated them covered in a dark bag in the refrigerator for 2 weeks. I don't know if I will refrigerate them first this time although I know they prefer cold to germinate. The temperature in the refrigerator may be too cold. Three years ago when I grew them all the seedlings germinated and did well without refrigeration. They germinated in my dining room at house temperature which can be warm in Summer when the air conditioner is not on. I will review sources I used before to see how others started them. The package has instructions but I also like to see what works for others. 

I have learned that it is good to keep a garden journal nothing expensive. I started last year using a composition book like students use in school. The problem is that I didn't  keep up with writing in it. It helps not to have to look for instructions on how to start a particular seed every time and to refer back to what I did last time that worked for me. Of course many seed packs have instructions on the back but some don't have enough information so I always read what methods work for others on the web. I also have a tiny booklet that came from Parks Seeds when I ordered seeds with instructions on when to sow different seeds and conditions for growing.

I realized that while I was busy living life in June, I should have been starting my pansy seeds since some sources say it takes 12 weeks for them to bloom and other sources say 6-8 weeks. I also couldn't locate the seeds in the house. I normally keep them all in one place unorganized in a container storage box. I found them by accident in my bedroom of all places. Now it's the end of July and they may not be a good size to transplant for the Fall. That's what I enjoy about gardening, you can always try and see what happens. If I don't have success I can always purchase plants from the nursery when they start to put them out. Because they are one of my favorite plants I really would like to be successful growing my own from seed. There are so many varieties and the fancier ones are usually higher if you buy plants at a nursery. The varieties seem endless from seed and you get so many seeds for a small price.

So, I cleaned up my seed starting rack so that one shelf  is clear for the seedlings. I use it for storing my gardening items in Spring after I put all my seedlings outside.

I like other colors and varieties also but I will use what I have and not order any more.

Instructions on inside of package of Botanical Interest Seeds
The pansy from Baker Creek is named Orange Sun (Viola X wittrocklama) fancy and is tangerine. It is from the Swiss Giant Family. Planting instructions say to surface-sow but there was no mention that the seeds require darkness to germinate.

Pansy Caramel Spice (Viola Wittrockiana) from Botanical Interest does state that pansies may do better with cold stratification (moist/cold treatment). It is recommended to sow them at 1/8" depth. This conflicts with the other instructions above that say surface-sow. I will surface sew them and gently press them so that they make contact with the seed starting mix.

Pansy Got the Blues (Viola Wittrockiana) also from Botanical Interest is a pretty blue pansy and one of my favorites. Mine were not successful from seed so I purchased them from the garden center this Spring. They are very fragrant. If I get up off the sofa I might actually get started, maybe later. I have to clean containers that I used during the Winter before I can start, the bad part of reusing containers. Its best to clean them though to avoid transmitting diseases. I will be using one egg carton container that I saved. I had many but I threw them out because I was saving all types of containers and it was getting ridiculous but free!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

In the Yard

After working in the front I moved to the backyard. I didn't stay long. There was a breeze this morning when I did the front and not too hot. It was scorching when I moved to the back. You will notice no pictures of my container vegetables. They looked horrible, for my eyes only. I will see how they look after being watered.

Leaf minor on columbine leaves. I was horrified to see my astible gone, dried up. they had shade but not moist shade. I am disappointed I didn't get to see them bloom. Maybe next year. This is why I was cautious about buying them. Well gardening is a learning experience.

The heat has killed the bleeding heart for this year but it will return in the spring. The coleus are doing well.

Canna taking off.

 Still doing well. Normally around this time they are scorched or have slug holes.

Impatiens blooming. Two of five I kept. so far no downy mildew but lets see how it goes. I grew them from seed. I would not buy any due to the downy mildew.

My coleus and geranium seedlings are doing well. The stalks on the geraniums are huge. The lilies in the corner are done.

Begonia and vinca. I will move back to a shadier area. I moved them for the 4th of July BBQ.

The Summer Garden Part II

The pansies in the sidewalk planters did well but need to be pulled now. I plan to start some in July for the Fall. I have little patience with them. They take so long to grow to full size. I will have patience because they are one of my favorite flowers especially the scented ones. I find that yellow and lighter colors are very fragrant. 

Pots on steps

Pansies are Done

Pansies pulled and Lantana planted.

Perennial trimmed

More pansies to take out.

Sedum has taken over. Will pull pansies.

Lantana Planted

I need 1 more lantana.

The ajuga is begging for water.

One plant wow. Its's not even Fall.

Place for an annual.

The Summer Garden

This time of year is usually not my favorite due to extreme weather with high temperatures and little rain. It was wonderful not to have to water anything since Spring because we have had so much rain. That seems to be over. In Philly we have a heat warning and today the temp is 94. This will not be the hottest day of the week. Yesterday it was 95 and we are possibly expecting temperatures near 100 degrees before the end off the week. I normally don't water much any way unless I see the plants are really suffering and it's really dry. It's easier to water the ones in the front of the house because I only use a 2 gallon watering container. In the yard I have to use the hose which has to be brought through the basement to the outside.

The vegetables have suffered the most and do need daily watering. This is why I really don't need to plant vegetables because when the weather gets real hot I don't want to go out to water every day. If I do grow edibles next year maybe I will be able to invest in self watering containers or make some myself. There are many resources on the web that show you how to make them.  My flower boarder out front and pots need tidying up. I need to dead head some, pull some plants, trim back others, and plant some annuals in bear spots. I read a good article about perennials at Mt. Cuba Center web site titled "Pruning Perennials". If you click the link the article is posted on the home page. Flower and plants are so beautiful in Spring. When Summer arrives perennials can not be as pretty and some may need to be cut back to encourage new growth and maybe more blooms. Some plants may need to be stalked like dahlias because they grow so tall. Annuals like pansies if still living may be past their prime like mine. They did well to live this long. So on to work in the front of the house.

Stoop Planter

Another View

Coleus from Rosy Dawn Gardens

Coleus from Rosy Dawn gardens, I think named inky fingers or inky toes.

Lirope in Bloom

Something is still eating the leaves. More insecticidal soap needed.

Window Box

Tidy Up Ivy

Remove flags, cut down peony and salvia. Trim coreopsis and sedum, stalk balloon flower.

Peony did not bloom this year. Probably overcrowded. Will remove in the Fall.

Volunteer plant. I don't know the name of it by my neighbor has some and I think that's were the seeds came from. It came up in a crack. I will plant it in the boarder. Hen and chick blooming under the lambs ear. Ajuga in cracks. Thought I pulled it all out the bed in the Spring.

My lambs ear seedling doing well.

Poppy Bloomed in the Spring. Deadhead balloon flower. Fungus or something on coneflower.

Lets get Started

Peony blocks the salvia and lambs ear under it and will have to go.

Making progress