Saturday, December 30, 2017


Yes, another wintry event in progress.

It's freezing this morning on the porch.
Frozen but can't kill mums or pansies. They'll perk up on a warm day.

Her second favorite spot at this time of year. We didn't have a live tree this year so there was no water for her to drink. Didn't seem to bother her. She still chewed on the tree and played with ornaments and candy canes. Still gave her a piece of live fresh pine to smell, play with and chase around the house.

The gardener didn't prepare this summer when seed starting supplies were still in Home Depot and Walmart. I only have a few discs so I'll have to use bagged seed starting mix. I love the mix I use but wanted to use some discs. But I"m not going through the snow out of the city to the nursery just for discs. I'd be in the store and green house buying things I don't need.

You joining me for tea and seed starting? I'll be back later after I work on my on line course. Have to get it done. Then maybe I'll sow some seeds and sit on the 20 degree porch in a coat and hat, and plant bulbs. This is what happens with lack of planning. I still have a lot of bulbs to plant and there's still time. See you later. The snow has stopped and the sun is breaking through the clouds.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Sowing Violas and Pansies

Since learning to sow seeds for starting some of my own plants, pansies and violas have been elusive for me. They're some of the most beautiful flowers in my opinion. Although some other garden bloggers that I follow have no problem sowing and nurturing their seedlings until time to plant out. I've been successful once. Pansies were one of the first seeds I tried to sow long before I've learned more about gardening from reading books, good gardening web sites of nurseries, extensions, and others. Attending gardening classes, and of course my fellow garden bloggers. Since my first successful attempt with little knowledge but good success it's as if the more I read about how to sow pansies and violas, the worse success I have. This year, I try again.

I don't remember what I did the first time but the thing I remember the most was growing them on the window seal. Maybe this was the most important factor. Growing in a cool environment. Although winter sunlight is different than that during the growing season of spring and summer, my pansies thrived on the window seal. They weren't leggy at all and didn't stretch in search of light. Maybe the window will be their home this winter after I sow them until spring.  Keeping the cat from bothering or knocking the seeds out the window may be a problem. I don't believe I even provided darkness for them to germinate although covering them with a light dusting of seed starting mix obviously provided the darkness. Many sources encourage stratification a period of cold in the refrigerator (or for winter sowing outdoors naturally, followed by germination when soil temperature reaches the optimum for each seed) followed by growing them at about a temperature of sixty degrees when growing indoors or under glass.

I've sown more pansies than violas and just noticed when sowing some today that viola seeds are very tiny although not as small as other seeds like foxgloves and petunias. Those seeds are like dust. Violas can be handled with care when sowing and don't have to be pelleted seeds. Today for the first time I tried sowing them on coffee filters. Where did I get that bright idea? No I didn't read it anywhere although I did a lengthy search on line to see if others have tried this and what the results are. Didn't find anyone who'd done this and posted about it yet. Can't hurt anything except the money spent for the seeds if it doesn't work.

Unfortunately I dropped a whole pack of new viola seeds on the floor on a bamboo rug before I realized it. The whole package. So upset. Can't do anything about it but look in my stock of seeds for a similar type of viola. The main problem with sowing violas this way may be that the seed is so small how will I tell which end to transplant out of the soil if they germinate?

 Some  sources online in forums discussed the viability of seeds and stated that viola and pansy seeds aren't viable for long. This might be the reason for many failures although many seeds I sowed where ordered from good sources prior to the start of seed starting. Lets see if my experiment works.

These seeds are from Swallowtail Garden Seeds.

Will use some old seeds from 2013 and 2015. Hopefully they're still viable.

After dropping my 2018 viola seeds on the floor I used old seeds. Lets see how they do.

Didn't use seed starting trays but have to wash these 12 and many more.

Took a fluted coffee filter and put it in a cup of water to wet and layed it on a flat surface to sow the seeds.
As you can see the pansy seeds are large and I've seen even larger ones. These are smaller pansy seeds compared to some others.

Put in plastic bag to maintain moisture. I'll check them daily to make sure they don't dry out and water as needed, and check for germination.

Think these are the violas although the picture makes them look larger they're tiny.

Put inside a plastic container and covered with foil before putting in the refrigerator to provide the darkness recommended for germination.

I dropped them all on the floor. Couldn't identify them if I wanted to. What a loss.

Hope to sow these tomorrow and place in the refrigerator in a bag along with the delphinium below which also needs stratification.

That's blackberry Lily a good sized seed.

And delphinium. Want to start geraniums and echinacea next. When ever that is.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Winter Gardening

Temperature his afternoon on the porch. This morning when I got in the car the thermostat said 15. Up to
21 when I finished my errands 4 hours later. I think that's our high for today. Had to bundle up today with my heavier coat, hat, and should have worn boots but I didn't. Our weather has been variable since October and the frosty weather feels good to me. 
 Went out today the first time since Christmas day to see what after Christmas decorations and lights were on sale. Never did I think that seed packs would be in the store. Surprise! They sure don't wast any time. I'm sure Walmart has Valentines candy already on the shelves.

Time for a fire.

I usually use fat wood to start the fire.

Unfortunately I still have bulbs to plant in containers. It's a cold day to be sitting on the porch but tomorrow won't be any warmer but I think I'll get them into containers then.

Kolanche's are still doing well with below freezing temperatures. Thought they were in the succulent family and would have frozen and died by now.

The weather hasn't bothered the miniature rose plants but I did over water one day and almost lost them.

Plant abuse. I need to take this inside and put her in the dark so she can hopefully bloom for me. It was beautiful in bloom last winter when I bought it from Home Depot.

Although the mums are still green the blooms are not happy with the temperatures.

Maybe the hydrangea will survive another season.

Beautiful scented narcissus from last spring brought out of the basement. Made a mistake and cut off the old foliage and cut off some new growth. I think it'll still make it. I saved it because it was beautiful and the scent wonderful. After it blooms this spring I"ll change the soil after it dies down and put it back in the basement for another year. Maybe it'll go in the yard and multiply.

No the porch has not been organized. It's a jungle. Pumpkins still doing well in the cold. Future meals for the squirrels and raccoons when I put them outside.

The house plants. Dad's pothos. I have to take better care of it. 

Thought it was spider mites but I think it's dust. Needs to be wiped down and sprayed just in case. Hasn't stopped growing. Dracena really does well in my house. One of few. Maybe one day it'll be a tree. I'm being hopeful. It's nice to buy a tiny plant and see it grow to many times it's size and know you grew it not bought it that way.

Poor care of the poinsettia. This is the second time it's dried out, but hasn't lost a berry or leaf yet. I watered it after I took this picture and it's looking better already.

Although it's winter mom's plant can probably benefit from some Osmocote fertilizer. It's a bit pale colored.

Poor plant. It's a miniature. Could use more soil and care and maybe it'll grow. Came from the Philadelphia Flower Show last year. Almost time for the show again. Looking forward to it. Two more months. I enjoyed the offered classes and hope to attend more this year.
ZZ plant sits on the window seal next to the  air conditioner and hasn't seemed to mind being here. When I moved it to a brighter warmer location it said no, put me back or I'll die. And I did.

Got into the seeds at the store today. Bought more foxgloves to start. I've been reading more about sowing them and I think this time I won't put them on the heat mat. It may be too warm according to what I've read. Maybe I'll have better germination rates and viability. Cardinal climber vine is pretty and I've grown it once from seeds. This should be pretty out front on a small trellis. Don't know why I'm trying snapdragons again. The last time I sowed some indoor the whole packet germinated and I had hundreds of tiny seedlings and no patience. I threw them in the trash. Did you say, why did your do that? Impatiens are easy to start. Three packs should be enough.

Will try another type chard this season other than the bright lights variety. Burpee seeds has changed the look of it's seed packs.

Marilyn is still showing out. I know yours are beautiful also.

Pothos purchased in the fall for the kitchen. It lost most of the huge leaves when it came to my house although it's still living. It was 3 time this size. Hopefully it'll fill out more when the days start to get longer.

Why buy more if you're killing what's not easy to kill? When the weather gets cold what else is there to do. After Christmas sale. Big box stores know gardeners may buy more house plants in the winter and they always have sales. Couldn't resit 2 different types of pothos. I've had a neon one before but didn't take care of it. I'll do better this time. I promise.

Pelargonium Martha Washington is only dormant. I have to remind myself of this and not throw her out.

Okay, couldn't wait. Looks ready to me although I don't see the bloom yet. Maybe too soon. Lets see what happens after a few days. I'm ready for hyacinths.

Hyacinths in the basement.

My sweet potato vine cutting is till surviving. Afraid to put it in soil. Better leave it along since it's living.

Paper whites.

Johnny's, Burpee, and Gurneys  seed catalogue's arrived yesterday. It's good weather to sit inside and look at them.

What are your doing? They told me Christmas was over. That's what happens when you sit still and let my daughter put it on your head.

After that. I need to rest. Happy gardening.