Sunday, December 29, 2013

Seed Sowing /Dragon Wing Begonias

This information is for my journal to keep a record of what techniques I used to start seeds. I am not an expert on seed starting but learn a little more each year from trial and error.

Seed/Supplier- Begonia dragon wing pink pelleted sized, Park Seed
Year of seed-packaged for 2014.
Date started- December 28, 2013
Seed Started In- Commercial seed starting coir discs 16 self watering units
Sown on top of mix
Covered with plastic that came with unit as per instructions
Heat/No Heat-Placed on heat mat
Light-Shop lights turned on over night

Seed/Supplier- Big red with green leaf begonia pelleted seeds, Swallowtail Garden Seeds
Year of Seed- packaged for 2013
Date started- December 28, 2013
Seed Started In- Commercial seed starting coir discs/ sown in same tray as pink dragon wing, some 2 per cell
Sown- on top of mix/did not press into mix
Covered with plastic that came with unit as per instructions
Heat/No Heat- Placed on heat mat
Light- Shop lights turned on over night

What do I do before I sow a seed? I try to refer to educational gardening web sites to read what is recommended to sow a particular seed. Some can be very technical and may frighten gardeners from trying to start certain seeds. Last Fall I read that vinca was difficult to start from seed and needed requirements that only experts could provide. Bad advice. What I did find is that they grow slowly but if started early they are ready to plant out after the last frost and may start blooming indoors. 

Seeds can be so inexpensive I don't mind trying what may be recommended as difficult to start. I've never layered or grafted anything or worked under sterile conditions. This might prove challenging. Haven't been to school for botany but I will read to get more information and decide if I should try it or not. I also look at other bloggers who start seeds and review their recommendations and see what works for them. Finally I read the information provided on the seed pack. Some seed packs provide little information and may leave out major instructions that can make the difference in a seed germinating and reaching adulthood or not germinating at all.

Some information on the begonia seed packs include, pressing the seed into the soil. I found this information conflicting because one package said to press the seed into the soil and the other one said to sow in shallow rows. I also read from a blogger who's blog is entirely about begonias that seeds should be sown on top of the soil and not pressed in because they require light to germinate.  What do you believe? What do you do? I have seeds for a yellow cascading begonia and another one named begonia Shanzi. I will see if these germinate first.

Germination temperature is recommended  on the packages between 75-80 degrees and that bottom heat may improve germination. One package stated that it takes 14-30 days and the other 14-60 days. This may be a problem since I sowed both types of seeds into the same tray. Maybe not a smart idea. I also don't think I need the shop lights yet because they will get light during day time hours but I will see. This is my first year growing begonias. Dragon wing begonias are pricey in the store. They create such a lavish display and I would love to grow my own. Areas where I plan to plant them include the shaded area in the yard, for the planter outside on my step, and one window box which is in the shade. It would also be nice to keep some as house plants. 

The pansies I planted 2 weeks ago have not germinated. They were sitting on my unheated sun porch. I took them inside when I saw that they did not germinate in 2 weeks. It may actually be too cold for them. Waiting patiently for germination.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas

Beautiful day with family. Along with the dinner I made my brother made paella, delicious. 

Second round of blooms. I had to put the paint stick back in.  Didn't want another catastrophe.
Paella-clams, mussels, lobster, shrimp, tereso sausage, chicken, pork, red fish, rice, artichoke, saffron and other spices, onion, and lemon. 

And the reason for the celebration!

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace, Isaiah 9:6, King James Version

In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. John 1:1-5, King James Version

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria. All went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem: because he was of the house and lineage of David. To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her first born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, and good will toward men. Luke 2: 1-14, King James Version 

All blessings and honor to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Because you came, I live. Merry Christmas. Jesus is alive.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

God Thought of Me Today!

The first day of the Winter Solstice. Beautiful, beautiful day in the 60's and expected to be in the 70's tomorrow. This is December and we have already had 3 snow storms; more snow than we had all last Winter. That was not a lot of snow for Philly. After seeing 3 feet at one time on several occasions 7 inches in one month is nothing.  Visions of Spring. I planted all the bulbs I had purchased for the yard and I can use some more. Last Fall I planted red and yellow tulips. This year I did multicolor ones. I pulled my tulips from last Fall and put them all in a planter. I hope they come up this Spring and I will use them to cut for the house. It would be nice to be able to cut my own tulips and have fresh flowers.

The ground was damp and  mostly like I left it in November before the snow surprised me and I couldn't get back out to plant bulbs because everything has been covered in snow. Late, but I planted my garlic. Looking forward to what it does. I was able to plant 2 veronica plants, perennials I bought at the end of Summer sale and 2 Shasta daisies. I dug up my peony from out front and planted it in a pot until Spring when I can decide where I want to plant it. I planted red tulips out front in the flower bed. I used all the allium, crocus, and hyacinth in the yard so I may buy some more for the front. They should be greatly reduced since most people planted bulbs in the Fall and this is the first day Winter. I'm thinking of starting begonias this weekend. This would be my first time trying them. They take a while from seed to bloom and from what I read may be difficult. Well, time will tell.

What a beautiful morning.

Buds on the fig trees for Spring.
A little snow let but the ground is not frozen.
This is a Veronica. I will plant her.

The soil in the oblong one is frozen.
Does broccoli die? Calendula planted from seeds during the Summer. Maybe it will reach full size and flower this Summer.
I plan to get more bulbs for here. Maybe the snow will melt by tomorrow. If not, I will scoop it out and plant.
The planter is cedar so I hope it will last for several years to come but, I will cover it in the Winter to try to prevent the wood rotting.
Tulip bulbs. This year I will arrange them in groups where I have space.
Last years bulbs. If they do well I will have lots to cut for the house.

For pots on the steps out front and window boxes.

From today's mail. I look forward to reading these later. I have never ordered from Jung's but I enjoy looking at a variety of seed catalogs. 
Pansies inside the bag that I started last week. I sowed the seeds on the top of the soil and pressed them in. I think I may go back and put a light covering of soil on them. The seeds are plump but they haven't germinated yet. I keep them moist but not too wet.

Giallardias I started from seeds in the Spring. I never planted them. I hope they make it.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas Tree

It's snowing again. I haven't heard the news to see how much it is expected to snow but I think it is supposed to end with rain. Hopefully it will because there is still snow on the ground from Mondays snow and I haven't planted bulbs. Here's hoping the rain will wash all of it away, the temperature will rise to the 40's and the soil will not be frozen. Since I am house bound I thought maybe we should put up the tree before there will be no live tree because it's dried out. My daughter and I picked out a Frasier fir last weekend and it's been outside on the porch. She picked out a pretty one and I think it surprised her that we didn't have a hard time getting it onto the stand. It looks a little crooked but it's secure. I remember when my daughter was younger the tree fell several times at Christmas with the help of my cat. Cats love live trees and to drink the water from the stand. I will be picking up ornaments until it's taken down because Joy likes to lay under the tree and slap at the ornaments.

Before Decorations

After. I have to find my skirt for the tree. Ornaments from years of collecting and my first ones I received from my mother when I moved from home into my first apartment and had my own tree.
Appropriate for today. Still snowing and icy.
Ornament from childhood. The color of her eyes have faded through the years.

The cat's ornament.


How can one bulb have 2 different colored blooms. I think the unopened one is white with red edges? I can't wait to see it when it opens.
Beautiful red lion amaryllis, but  I saw fungus gnats in the soil today. I put Mosquito Bits in the soil when I planted it but did not follow up with treating the soil for 3 weeks as recommended. I thought I took precautions before to prevent them. This is the second Winter that fungus gnats are in my house when I bought bulbs in. In future years I won't be using the peat or coir disk that come with them. I have one more amaryllis to plant. I'm afraid to plant it. I put mosquito bits in all my house plants months ago. The gnats I saw are only in the soil of the amaryllis but I will have to get rid of them before I start seeds. The active ingredient in mosquito bits is bacillus turinginesis. Last Winter I also use beneficial nematodes that I ordered. I really didn't want to use them this year but I'll see what happens.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


What a beautiful snow. It's light and fluffy. This is our second day. Saturday there was 5-10 inches. It was heavier but absolutely beautiful. No garlic planted. I did clean the leaves from the yard and bring ceramic planters inside. Bulbs not planted yet. Maybe next week when the snow has cleared. I really should get them in the ground now before another snow. I was going to do it on Thursday but it rained for 2 days followed by snow. 

When the snow slowed down my daughter and I went out to tackle the shoveling. Actually she shoveled the front of the house and I cleaned off the car for work the next day. I was hopeful for a snow day from work, but school was in session. Snow days are one of the perks of working for a school district. I don't know who enjoys snow days more, the students or the staff? Today we got our snow day based on the timing of the storm which started during the morning rush hour when students and staff would be in transition to school. 

I love snow but I don't like when it gets icy or there is 3 feet of it and the sidewalk has to be shoveled and the car dug out to get out of the street to go to work. One day when I retire, I will enjoy not having to go out into the snow if I don't want to. I never get tired of walking in the snow while it's falling. Especially at night when it's fresh and no one is outside and has walked on it. It's silent and magical. I walked on Saturday night during the snow. I may go out later to take more pictures of the neighborhood.

So, is anyone seed starting yet? I sure want to but as usual I am preparing for Christmas dinner and having family over. Of course this means getting the house in order. Wouldn't it be wonderful to always have your house in order and ready for guests? Family or friends can come over anytime but on the holiday I like the house to be extra special. I need to declutter, put books and magazine stacks away, sweep, vacuum, and wax my floors. Move furniture to clean and wax under them. Wipe down shelves. I already hung more heavy insulated drapes and put down the rug. I have actually accomplished more than I thought I would have done by this time. Each year it gets better. The day I realized that you don't wait until the week before a family dinner to start getting things ready was a break through. Why didn't I start earlier before, the energy of youth maybe? I started the first day of December. Actually I hung the drapes in November. My goal is to have everything done by next weekend so the week of Christmas I can relax, bake, and enjoy sitting by the fire, reading, and enjoying some of my favorite holiday shows. 

My mother and I were talking recently and discussing that only several years  ago, Friday nights were my day for cleaning and doing laundry. I would clean the living room, dining room, kitchen, and bathroom. I did all the laundry. So Saturday was a day that I had time to shop and spend time with family. It's amazing what happens as one ages. I no longer clean the whole house on Friday nights. I try... to do one thing after work each night. Maybe take one corner and stack the books neatly or put them away. Wipe off the table which is for the lamp, my coffee cup, and as always plants. Of course it's not only dust I'm wiping off but cat hair. My cat has always had bad behavior and thinks that the tables are for him to stretch out and sleep on. Is he displaying cat like behavior normal for cats? I don't believe house pets should be on the furniture or in beds. My cat thinks other wise. I do love my cat. He has his own unique personality. This is why I like cats they are almost like people.

So she did bloom, but the color of the blooms are not vibrant. The amaryllis I had last year was prettier. What is left of the Thanksgiving flower arrangement in the background.
I would love live garland but I have tried this many times before to have a dry mess that didn't look pretty when Christmas arrived. I do have some and I may add it on Christmas day. The smell is wonderful. Wilt Proof is used to spray fresh trees and greens to help maintain their moisture indoors. I was going to order some but didn't. Maybe next year.
And for something different. He loves to pose. This is Spike another member of the family. As I mentioned in another post, he came to live with me along with my Nephew, and their cat Penny when my sister went to Iraq. That was about 13 years ago and he's still here. I was amazed when I read that turtles can live for 90 or more years. I will have to assign him a guardian in my will as he may outlive me.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Last Month of The Year

Pansies, phlox, and lirope under the greens. The kale is still hanging in there.
Pine cones from my mom's pine tree. I have some that are much larger than these but I think I will use them inside. 

Time to start decorating for Christmas. I have to clear the mantel first. One orchid survived. I have no idea what to do with it. All the leaves fell off the other one but I still have it. I refuse to throw it out although it may be dead. I should read my orchid book.
Amaryllis making progress. I hope it won't bloom until Christmas, unlikely. I may put it in a darker location to delay the blooms opening. I plan to purchase holders for the flower spikes for next season or continue to use what I have in the house. The paint stick does not look pretty but it will do. It would look better maybe padded or covered with something. My amaryllis was so tall and heavy last year that it fell and broke.  I have 2 more to plant and will stagger planting them so I will have blooms in the house for January and February.
Flowers from Thanksgiving. Still doing well.  The colors were even deeper several days ago. Some have started to die. I like the stock and tried it from seed last year but got frustrated and threw them out. Maybe this Winter.

Seed starting time is almost here for some seeds that need a early start such as vinca and geraniums. I think I will also start begonias early. The plan is for the last week in December after Christmas. I have yet to rake up all the leaves in my yard that have fallen and plant bulbs. I'm not that worried about the bulbs. The ground is still workable and I planted them late last year and they did fine. I do need to start my paperwhites, I'm late this year. 

While out front today, I thought of what I would like to do with the flower bed. I love blooms and will probably take up the evergreen shrubs and plant perennials like rudbeckia, daisies, coreopsis and start more foxglove from seeds. It's nice to have things green year round but I want to take advantage of full sun and plant some flowers that have colorful blooms that I can't plant in the yard because of the dappled shade. There would also be more room for annuals.

Decreased my blogging and considered deleting this blog due to spam. I was shocked when I clicked on some of the web sites who viewed my blog. Unwanted sites. Now I know not to even click on them to find out who they are. I want to keep the blog public but unwanted traffic is horrible. So this is the last Fall shot of the yard before I clean it up one day soon!

Until next Fall. They still have to be cleaned up. Fun, fun, fun!

The shopping season has begun. Saturday November 23rd at Macy's Center City. Complete with live entertainment. The Christmas Show has now started.