Six on Saturday – emerging seeds and a slow spring

Shileau inspecting the new spruces April 6 2018

Shileau inspecting two new spruce trees.  A good friend buys them every fall, keeping them in their pots to decorate her city patio; then I plant them in the yard in early spring.  They generally (but not always) survive, although I have to do a lot of root pruning and root untangling after removing them from their 10 or 15 gallon plastic containers.

This past week brought blustery cold winds to the County and all Southern Ontario – lots of downed trees, fallen branches, rain, snow flurries and power outages.  We were fortunate to escape wind damage or flooding even with the sump pump out of action for a few hours at the height of Wednesday night’s storm.  That said, bulbs continued to push up outside, and seeds started to sprout inside.  Here are my Six on Saturday, with a tip of my Tilly to The Propagator for this theme.

emerging Tulips April 6 2018

These short red early kaufmanniana Tulips have a lovely mottled leaf.  This is their third spring in my heavy clay soil – I’m hoping they’ll continue to bloom for a few more years.

Allium Globemaster April 6 2018

Hard to imagine but within a month this little rosette of leaves will have become a three foot Allium Globemaster.  First time growing them so I’m looking forward to a nice show.

Allium Purple Sensation April 6 2018

I’ve had Allium Purple Sensation for many, many years.  These are new bulbs  I planted last fall but I also collected seeds and have started to propagate larger numbers (I hope!).

Chocolate Sprinkles grape tomatoe - yogurt vs Jiffee pot April 6 2018 1

Grape tomato seedlings started two weeks ago – I’m experimenting using different growing containers.

Chocolate Sprinkles grape tomatoe - yogurt vs Jiffee pot April 6 2018

I was surprised to notice that the tomatoes started in yogurt containers are almost twice as large as the ones grown in more traditional peat pots.  Wow!  Is it maybe because moisture levels are more easily managed?  ie growing media in plastic doesn’t dry out as quickly as in the peat pot?

Six on Saturday – Signs of Spring

Galanthus elwesii March 30 2018 small

This holiday long weekend is much sunnier – so far – than the weather channels had predicted, with seasonal temperatures for a change.  I think it might just be a blip though because it’s been cooler than normal so far this spring and there’s snow predicted for later next week.  Heavy sigh.   Plants know what time of year it is though – here are six signs that spring is underway in Southeastern Ontario, and a tip of my Tilly to The Propagator for this theme.

Acer pensylvanicum leaf bud March 30 2018 small

Acer pensylvanicum leaf buds swelling.  This small understory tree is also called Striped Maple because the bark of young branches has attractive vertical stripes, or Moose Maple because in Northern Ontario moose are fond of nibbling on the branches.

Lilac leaf bud March 30 2018 small

It’ll be about a month and a half before bloom but these Lilac flower buds are starting to swell.

Clematic leaf bud March 30 2018 small

The buds on this Clematis durandii have broken.  It’s a favourite rambling Clematis – I have it clambering over large rocks and amongst daylilies where the large purple flowers make a statement.

Sorbaria sorbifolia bud March 30 2018 small 2

False Spirea – Sorbaria sorbifolia – it just can’t wait to get a jump on spring!

Daffodil flower buds March 30 2018 small

Daffodils – I’m guessing they’ll be open next Saturday but you never know.  It’s not going to be much about zero for the next few days, with some snow expected later in the week.  These full size Narcissus are in a warmish micro climate in the yard; the tiny Tete a Tete – usually the first to bloom – are in a cooler spot and have just poked out of the ground. 

Galanthus elwesii March 30 2018 small

Snowdrops – Galanthus elwesii – have been in bloom for more than a month now.  Really – it’s the only thing I can count on for March.

 

DIY – seed starting by Re-using

I love yogurt (or for non North Americans, Yoghurt) – have some every morning, sometimes as a topping for melons, berries or nuts, sometime right from the little plastic container. Of course, all these containers go into the recycling bin, and I can only hope some intrepid company is melting them down to make new plastic thingamjigs somewhere in the world.

I also love the three “R’s” – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and it struck me a few weeks ago that I can possibly Reuse before Recycling, and save a few pennies as well. So I started collecting the yogurt containers, large and small, to use for seed starting.

I’m not sure if it will work. The wonderful thing abut using Jiffy® pots is you don’t need to disturb seedling roots when planting out. With the yogurt containers, I’ll have to carefully slide the root mass into the planting hole. So I’ll be conducting a quasi-scientific study — half of my new tomato seedlings in Jiffy, half in yogurt. All else will be the same (starting medium, heat and light while in front of the window, and side by side in the garden). I’m looking forward to the results!

Seed starting DIY 1 March 18 2018

Here are some of my seeds this year. There’s a grape tomato from Stokes® called Chocolate Sprinkles and an All American Selection cocktail tomato from Earthworks Seeds called Red Racer. I love cocktail tomatoes – they’re the perfect size for salads. I’m also trying to start my chard this way – this variety is Scarlet Charlotte from Renee’s Garden. They recommend starting them outside when there is no danger of a hard frost, but in my experience the rabbits think chard seedlings are an appetizer so I’m hoping that by planting a lot of larger plants I may get a harvest.

Seed starting DIY 2 March 18 2018

I wasn’t sure how to put drainage holes in the bottom of the yogurt cups so I tried with secateurs and a knife before realizing plain ol’ kitchen scissors work best.

Seed starting DIY 3 March 18 2018

I wanted three triangle holes – the scissors provided the cleanest and easiest cut.

Seed starting DIY 4 March 18 2018

I’ve never done this before but the Stokes seed pack suggested soaking the Jiffy pot in warm water before adding growing medium. It makes sense – otherwise the sphagnum peat moss would pull moisture from the medium, causing it to dry our faster and making watering a bit trickier.

Seed starting DIY 5 March 18 2018

The final result – four pots for each tomato variety, two started in a yogurt container and two in the Jiffy pot, and a whole lot of chard! The tray is now covered and on top of the freezer where it’s a titch warmer than my windowsill (if I had an electric heating mat I’d use it – maybe next year!)

The Flower Show Part of Canada Blooms

 

Flower Show 1 Paola Zattera floral entry

From Italy –  Paola Zattera designed this show stopping arrangement,

When I visit garden shows or county fairs I generally either breeze through or walk on by the flower show part.  You know, the tables with vases of cut flowers, or weird looking arrangements that use sticks and leaves and kitchen gadgets that make the whole thing appear…strange.  I know, I know  – it’s a complicated process; running and judging a flower show takes a lot of time and effort.  You can tell just by reading the info tags beside each display — there’s a million different types/classes of entries.

I took the time this year to more closely tour the winning entries of the Toronto Flower Show at Canada Blooms.  I was amazed.  I spotted at least four main categories:  dresses based on Disney themes, small planted boxes meant to be viewed from above, front door decorations and arrangements by international floral artists that interpret the ‘experimental’ move genre.   Here are a few of my favourites, with apologies for not noting the floral artists’ names.  Lesson learned!

These are the front door decorations.  Although I loved the snowshoe best, it was the Hyacinth wreath that won the day – these are living bulbs forming the wreath!  I have no idea how the artisan who crafted it manages to keep the roots moist throughout the show; perhaps there’s something between the bulb and the beautiful moss diaper they’re wearing.

 

These dresses are made from flower petals, bark, leaves, twigs….they’re what I imagine movie stars would wear if there was a red carpet event in the middle of the enchanted forest.

 

Flower Show 8 as see from aboveI took photos of several of the ‘gardens in a box’ which, the sign said, are meant to be viewed from above, but my shadow was in all of them.  Including this one!

You have to admire the imagination, creativity and tremendous skill demonstrated by all the displays.  The neat thing is, if I had been at  the flower show at the right time I could have seen judging and creating being demonstrated.  Next year!