Cobaea ‘Cathedral Bells’

With the piles of snow outside, I thought it might be nice to go back to some things I grew last year (or even previous to that) and recount the experience.

Pronounced  Ko-Bee-Uh, it is also sometimes referred to as Cup & Saucer Vine or  Monastery Vine.

Some quick googling tells me that this is only hardy to Zone 9-10. I figured it was worth the risk last year, since we started the year off so warm. And usually, if something is impossible to grow here, then they don’t sell it here.

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I started them inside early because whether it was warm or not, we are still only a zone 3/4 (or 5-ish on a good year).

Since the seedlings were much larger than I anticipated, I ended up potting them up much sooner than I normally would. (3 into party cups on April 11, and the remaining 6 into party cups on April 17th… would have been sooner, but I needed to buy more potting soil and cups)

These things grew fantastic… They cling onto nearly anything. I had one climbing up a bare 4×4 fence post. It did not need any trellising to climb. They did not seem to like the teepee of smooth bamboo canes.

While they grew fantastic. I didn’t get any flowers… Our summer was cool and dry when it is normally warm and wet… and then hot and wet, when it is normally starting to cool. And then the cold just kind of came in with a bang. 2016 was weird. I had these planted in 4 different areas. They definitely need as much sun as possible. Morning shade with hot afternoon sun was great for them. The 2 plants I put into the area that gets morning sun and evening shade did not fare well. This may be partly due to soil, but I think they just need the heat (being that they are from a hot climate).

Will I try these again? Possibly. They were pretty tenacious and I like that. But I might wait for a different year when I’m feeling more ambitious to try new and different things.

I didn’t keep any pictures I may have taken of them growing to share with you now. If they had flowered, there probably would have been tons of photos.

Have you grown these? Share your experiences in the comments below.

 

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March 2016 Update

Things are starting to pick up garden wise now. Our weather has been pretty glorious this month. A few little snow falls, but nothing that has really stuck around. It has been a nice change from a few years ago when it was -30 (Celsius)  for nearly the whole month and there was no end in sight to the snow. For once it felt like Spring on the first official day of Spring. So this might be a bit of a long winded update.

**My iPhone is updating right now and I need to go to bed, so I will add some photos in later. I still want to get this posted on the last day of March though. I will have the video up on YouTube this weekend once I am done work for the week and I have the time to put into it. Thanks everyone for understanding! I’ll add in any photos I have already uploaded at the end as possible.**

I sowed my Mexican Purple Garlic into paper pots on March 6. I made a little video to play around with some editing.Once sown, I put them in the fridge to help give them the cold they need to split into bulbs (the ground was still frozen solid). It is an experiment, so I’m interested to see if it will work. On March 22, after waiting for the ground to thaw enough to dig, it was finally ready for the garlic to go outside. Despite the paper pots being frozen solid (because my fridge likes to think its a freezer sometimes), I was kind of amazed to see little roots on some of the pots that broke apart. If everything goes right, I should end up with 20 bulbs of purple garlic! Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Also, while rooting around in the dirt outside (on March 22), finding areas that are ready to be turned over for Spring, I discovered the the Elephant Garlic that I planted last year (that did absolutely nothing), has sprouted! Also, the Spring Bunching Onions are growing well. I’m glad I left them there for the winter. I never would have guessed that they would survive to Spring. All 3 rhubarb crowns are starting to poke their heads up.

On the 26th and 27th, I got some of the digging done outside in the areas that are starting to thaw out. Mostly I got a lot of the winter build up of dog poo picked up. I moved the little stack of wood that will be in our way when we finally start working on the patio. Some of the wood I used to start building the edges of the beds. Any of it that was a little too small or too rotten to use, I re-stacked over on the other side of our house where the mason bee house is. It will be a good bug habitat over there. I’ll be trying to get as much digging done as possible to be able to plant sooner. I also got started on digging the new bed by the garage – For the clematis and hopefully grapes. Ideally we will be getting the patio done this year… but I did say that last year and our bricks are still sitting stacked out in our driveway.

On the 28th, I started working on the bed by the apple tree too. I was thinking of trying to grow watermelon there, BUT it might be too shady there for them. Now I am contemplating putting strawberries in it, or just growing some beans there. Only time will tell.

Moving onto the stuff I’ve started inside:

The ‘Northern Gold’ Onions I sowed on December 27 are doing well. They are a little smaller that I would expect at this time, but with some heat and sunshine I think they’ll perk right up. The second sowing on early January in the individual cells is doing well… Well the 2 that survived a bit of neglect, when I didn’t realize they had dried out as much as they had.

Peppers: The Habanero and The Hungarian Hot Wax peppers are doing fantastic. I potted them up on March 23. The Cayenne are also doing well, even though the germination rate has been shit. I put 4 seeds in every peat pellet, and only one came up in 4 out of 6 pellets. The other 2 I sowed again with 4 more seeds, and only one sprouted. So it looks like I will have 5 cayenne plants not 6. Disappointing considering they are new seeds. The Serrano Peppers I sowed on March 6 are doing great. As are the ‘Big Dipper’ Bell Peppers I sowed the same day. I’ll probably be potting up all the rest very soon. Here is the post from when I sowed them.

Tomatoes: The bunch (Part 1 here) I sowed on March 15 are doing incredible. I am always amazed at how quickly tomatoes grow. The bunch I sowed on March 23 (Part 2 here) are just starting to poke their heads out. Boxcar Willie won that sprouting race – It poked its head out on the 27th. Part 3 will be in the April update.

Ground Cherries: I am so interested to see how these will grow in a container. I have 4 peat pellets of them, so I think I will try 2 in a container, and 2 in the ground. They are starting to put on their first and second sets of true leaves and will be ready to pot up soon.

Strawberries: I originally sowed 12 pellets of ‘Patio Temptation’, and 6 germinated. Then I mistakenly let them dry out, and now I’m down to 3. But they are growing well. Slow, but they tend to grow slowly anyway. I picked up a pack of ‘Ozark Beauty’ strawberry plants at Home Depot, and plunked each one into a red solo cup to keep them growing rather than rotting away in a bag. 10 plants for $5. There were actually 11 in the bag. However, 3 of them still haven’t done anything in their cup. I’ll give them until early April before I decide to scrap the duds. Plus, if the weather keeps up, these can probably get moved outside soon.

Flowers:

Since I just updated you on the flowers a few days ago, I’ll just link to that post rather than repeat the same story here.

In addition to what is in the Flower post, I have some Tulips that I have been trying to force a little inside until I can dig around enough to get them outside. I just want them to start to make some roots and get a little head start. I put half of them outside on the 28th, and I’ll stick the rest out in a week or two. I always forget about the fall bulbs I find on sale, OR I find them on sale well after my garden is under snow.

When I found the ‘Ozark Beauty’ Strawberries at Home Depot, I also picked up a little pack of ‘Jackamanni’ Clematis that had 2 plants in it. I plunked them into some red solo cups to keep them alive. They are growing very well, and now the pressure is on to get their home created. (Which I started on the 27th!)

Outside, My delphiniums have little buds starting under the cover of their leaf mulch. And I noticed that the Lupin and Hollyhocks have some little surface buds. The foxgloves look like they didn’t even stop growing under the snow. I am also hoping that the daffodils I planted last year will come back. I’m not sure if they got enough energy stored up last summer or not. So more finger crossing here. I seem to be on a bit of a flower kick this year, so don’t be surprised if I add more bulbs and flowers around later this year.

Herbs:

The Lemon Balm, Lavender and Spearmint that were sown January 23, are doing great. I potted them up on March 5, and I’ve had to trim them a couple times since then. I want them to develop good, strong, bushy growth now before I send them outside and neglect them a little. I’ve moved them away from the lights and into the windows to get them a little more used to real sunlight.

The germination on most of the herbs I sowed earlier in the month was pretty amazing. A few things are a bit slower: The Rosemary, Sage and both types of Parsley are just sprouting now, but everything else was up in at least 6 days. I am still waiting for the Stevia, but I did see some tiny sprouts on March 22 when I was gently rooting around the soil. I added a few more seeds, so I will keep my fingers crossed that it decides to grow. As of March 30th, I have 3 sprouts in 2 of the pellets. I really hope that I get more sprouts soon.

Moving back outside, the Chives are putting on good growth. I also check my Chocolate Mint daily for signs of life (still waiting). If I can keep all these herbs going, I should have a decent amount to dry for storage. I’m hopeful that I can save some of my own seed from them as well. My lilacs and the crab apple tree are starting to develop buds. The trees should start developing their leaves too.

How was March in your area? Leave a comment below, and please check out my YouTube video update for this month… It should be up on the weekend, this week has just been too busy and crazy to get everything filmed and edited. We are still waiting to save up for our new camera, so the iPhone updates continue for now.

March 2016 Post Links:

Peppers, March 6 Random Update; Lettuce; Face Cream Review; Mexican Purple Garlic; Herbs; Garden Planning; Tomatoes 1; Carrots; Tomatoes 2; Flowers

‘Hungarian Hot Wax’ and ‘Habanero’ Peppers


Herbs, flowers, tomatoes (round 2)

  

Some of the things under the lights… Back is all flowers, left is Cayenne Peppers, right is Stevia


‘Ozark Beauty’ Strawberries 

  

‘Alaska’ Peas are popping up… I’ll let them get some growth, then they’ll go straight outside… They can handle some light frost.


 

Flowers for 2016 (so far)

I have decided to put some honest effort into growing more flowers this year. Bees and Butterflies and other friendly bugs should be happy!

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Lupin & Bumble Bee (2015)

Apart from the bedding plants that I usually buy every year, I already have a few trusty perennials in the yard: 2 colours of Delphinium, a deep pink/red Lupin, a purple Lupin that I grew from seed (pretty proud of myself on that one); and a few bulbs I planted that I am waiting to see if they come back this year. There is also some Foxgloves that I bought AND sowed last year, that should come back, and a few lillies that will also hopefully come back….

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Chives (2015)

Also, chives. To me, they live in that grey area between flowers and herbs. Last year I expanded them around the yard to enjoy more of their beautiful flowers and their resilience to our winter. Because, it is always uplifting to see some green poking out from beneath the snow after a long winter. Out front, I have a few Iris rhizomes that I’ve carried around with me most places I have lived long enough to garden. I think I will move some of the smaller ones to the back yard later this Spring.

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I forgot the name of this lily, but I think it is something like ‘Commander in Chief’. Its planted with the Purple Lupin that I sowed my self (2015)

As for the new additions this year, so far, I have sown:

  • Hollyhocks: I’ve grown these the last few years, but they have yet to flower. So I’m adding a few more in this year. I sowed 9 cells of these originally, with 2 seeds per cell on February 21. Only 2 germinated. I waited and waited and waited. So I resowed 4 cells on March 11, and only 1 more germinated. (the other 3 cells were for Sweet William, but we’ll get to them). So after a month of waiting around for Hollyhocks to wake up and germinate, I have 3 little seedlings.
    • Variety: ‘Country Romance Mix’ (Perennial)
    • Their description says: “Large 8-13cm rose, white, maroon, yellow and pink single flowers are produced on tall stalks from July to September”
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  • Sweet William: As I mentioned above, after some hollyhocks didn’t germinate, I sowed 3 of the 9 cells with Sweet William. Which germinated within a few days!  I sowed these on March 11
    • Variety: ‘Mixed Colors’ (Biennial)
    • Their description says: “Vivid colors and spicy scent make this a garden standout. The blooms are eye-catching bicolors in combinations of red, pink and white. Flower clusters as large as 6” accross. Very pretty and easy to grow. Self-seeds. Brilliant for bedding or borders. Blooms in its second year. Zone 3.”
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  • Malva: After waiting and waiting for the damn Hollyhocks, I plunked some ‘Zebrina’ Malva seeds in. They were up within a handful of days too. Really making me wish I had just sowed these from the beginning. They are a perennial to Zone 5. They may end up being an annual for me in this case, depending on the winter we have. I sowed them on March 11. They are heirloom seeds, so I can save my own seed from them if possible.
    • Variety: ‘Zebrina’ (Perennial)
    • Their description says: “A magnificent perennial bearing gorgeous 30″ flower spikes filled with 2″ lavender striped blooms. Malva blooms all summer long and combines very well in the perennial border with phlox or bright yellow Yarrow. Zone 5”
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  • Columbine: I was pretty excited when these came up. I’ve grown them before, but I’ve never kept them alive to be able to flower. I always get distracted by vegetables. So this year, hopefully I’ll be able to keep my attention span for these little seedlings. I sowed them on February 21
    • Variety: ‘Long Spurred Mix’ (Perennial)
    • Their description says: “Strong, sturdy stems are covered with attractive, spurred, nodding two-toned 4” flowers. Intense colors add charm and beauty to your landscape. Easy to care for, free-blooming and heat tolerant. Rich, sandy and well drained soil. Perennial. Zone 3.”
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  • Carnations: I had doubts that these were going to germinate because the seed is a little older, but they popped right up! I sowed them on February 21.
    • Variety: ‘Chabaud Giant Mix’ (Annual)
    • Their description says: “Beautifully scented 2 1/2″ blossoms, produce a waterfall of brilliant mixed shades of pink, red, white and yellow. Perfect for borders, rock gardens, containers and for cutting.”
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  • Impatiens: Looking for something to put in the front garden bed that is pretty shaded, I found these. Hopefully I can keep them alive to get them out there.  I sowed them March 24
    • Variety: ‘Tropical Fizz Hybrid’ (Annual)
    • Their description says “Brighten up the shady areas of your flower beds with this delightful and vibrant mix of pink, lavender, salmon, red, orange an white. Grows 8-10″ tall”
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  • Lavatera: My grandma always grew these and saved her seed every year. She gave me some, but I’ve misplaced the pack she gave me. So I found an heirloom pack to sow and save my own every year just like she did… as long as I can keep them alive. I sowed them March 24.
    • Variety: ‘Silvercup’ (Annual)
    • Their description says: “Dense, bushy, mound-shaped plants are clad in attractive, dark green foliage and covered with 4” flowers. The brightest of all mallow blooms! Ideal as a mixed border or a quick growing, compact summer hedge. Easily grown.
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  • Cobaea: I saw these and couldn’t resist. Ideally, they will grow up the south facing wall on the garage with the clematis and maybe Grapes that I want to grow. But, I still need to get the bed created. I sowed them March 24.
    • Variety: ‘Cathedral Bells’ (Annual)
    • Their description says: “Exotic climber for a sunny wall or terrace. Large bell-shaped flowers turn from bright green to a deep purple. Use against walls, fences and pergolas.”
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Well, that is all I have sown thus far… I still want to sow some Cosmos, Marigolds and Calendula, and a few other annual flowers… possibly some Nasturtiums. But I may just pick some bedding plants up and save my space for the veggies I want to grow.

Also, I mentioned about the clematis I want to grow. I picked up a bag of them (and a bag of strawberries) at Home Depot a few weeks ago, and plunked the 2 plants of ‘Jackamanni’ into some Red Solo Cups. Hopefully this will keep them going until their home is created and it is safe to put them outside.

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Foxgloves (2015)

 

 

 

March 6, 2016

I didn’t have a specific thing I wanted to talk about today, I mostly wanted to jump around and give you a little update on what I have been doing. Mostly this is a record for myself when I am wondering when I sowed something, or when I potted it up, and when I have made my mind up on what varieties I am growing.

Yesterday, I potted up my Lemon Balm and Spearmint into 3″ pots, and the 6 Lavender plugs into a seed cell. All of those were sown on January 23rd, along with 12 plugs of Strawberries. It is amazing how fast the herbs grow comparatively. Only half of the strawberries germinated, and they are still developing their true leaves. The Lemon Balm could use a trim already!

I thought I already had my hot peppers picked out and sown, but then I found a pack of Serrano Peppers. Obviously, I had to buy them. I sowed 2 jiffy pellets of them. The seed packet says: “Serrano is a small, fiery hot Chilli pepper with a delayed fuse. It is one of the hottest peppers available. It is smaller and hotter than a jalapeño… A favourite in sizzling hot salsas and sauces and Asian dishes.” So it should be an interesting mix with the others I already sowed.

I also started 4 pellets of Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherries and 6 pellets of ‘Big Dipper’ Sweet Peppers. If you want a fun, hardy fruit to grow, try the ground Cherries. 2 years ago when I grew them, they were amazing. They are a bit tart, kind of pineapple-y? I don’t know exactly how to describe them, but they are great. I made a pie with them and it was delicious! Its definitely worth the space if you can fit them in. They want to sprawl out, but I’m going to try and do some in a container this year. We’ll see how it goes.

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I’ve also got some Mexican Purple Garlic stashed away. I found it in January at 40% off, because Fall is the time to plant them. I might pot them up into some paper pots, and put them out as soon as I can dig the ground enough to get them out. Spring is kind of here. It was nearly 20 degrees (Celsius) out yesterday! I mean, we could still get a huge dump of snow any time between now and the middle of June, but garlic is hardy, so it should be cool. It also needs cold in order to split into a bulb, so planting it earlier will be better in the long run.

My ‘Northern Gold’ onions I started from seed back in December and early January are doing well. Or I think they are. We’ll find out later in the year if all of this was a wasted effort or not. I will also pick up some sets so I get at least a few onions for cooking with. I am skipping Shallots and Leeks this year. I do have some shallots still in the ground and I may leave them there and see what they do this year.

On the flower front, The Hollyhocks are starting to pop up, and so are the Carnations. Still no sign of the Columbines, so my fingers are crossed tight that they will germinate… If not, I guess I’ll chuck a different seed in those cells and see what happens with them.

The little cacti are getting little pokers on them. As you can tell I use all the technical words around here. A few more weeks and I’ll do a legit update on them. As it stands, there isn’t a huge change in them to justify their very own update.

I’ve been picking up a bunch of different lettuce mixes, so keep an eye out for a post about them. Every year I seem to pick one thing that I become a little obsessive about it. This year seems to be lettuce.

It is still early in the day, so I will probably crack and end up sowing a few more things, But I’ll keep a record of it for future posts here. Leave any tips you have in the comments section below, and Thanks for reading!