Annual Flowers from Seed (2018)

This year, as I was starting some herbs, I had a few extra peat pellets left, and I figured I would try to start a few annual flowers again. I’ve made a bit of an attempt over the years, and this will be no different. Depending on the money situation, I will likely buy any bedding plants, but these will hopefully add a bit of homegrown colour and interest to the garden.

 

Lavatera – My grandma grew this almost every year without fail. She would have this huge stand of these beautiful pink flowers along the back side (south facing) of her house. And every year she would save seed from them for the next year.

This packet is from McKenzie seed, and is from 2016.

  • ‘Silvercup’Lavatera
  • “Dense, bushy, mound-shaped plants are clad in attractive, dark green foliage and covered with 10cm (4″) flowers. The brightest of all mallow blooms! Ideal as a mixed border or a quick growing, compact summer hedge. Easily grown”

Cosmos – I grew these along with the veggies back when we had the greenhouse garden to use (before we realized JUST how bat-*&$% crazy the owners of the property were). The beneficial bugs loved them, and so did I, so I figured it was worth a shot again in my backyard this year.

This packet is from McKenzie seed, and is from 2014

  • ‘Early Sensation Mix’Cosmos
  • “So easy to grow they seem to thrive on neglect! Daisy-like 9cm (3 1/2″) blooms in crimson, rose, pink and white are enhanced by yellow centers, held high on graceful fern-like foliage. Exceptionally beautiful in beds, borders and background planting.”

Asters – These are new to me. I got them many years ago with the intent of growing them, but the seed packet sat there unopened until now.

This packet is from McKenzie seed, and is from 2014

  • ‘Powder Puffs’ Aster
  • “Tremendous double flowers, 8-10cm (3-4″) in diameter, grow upright on long sturdy stems. Lovely bouquet-type habit makes it an excellent cut flower. Resists wilt. By picking off faded blooms, you will prolong the flowering season.”

I sowed these (4 of Lavatera, 4 of Cosmos, and 3 of Asters) on April 8, 2018. There may be more if this snow keeps up and I need a small bit of hope of  the summer to come.

Update before I make this post live (April 26):

  • The Aster’s still haven’t germinated. So I think the seeds were too old
  • The majority of the Cosmos have germinated and are currently working on their first true leaves.
  • The Lavatera had spotty germination. One is doing well, a few more germinated but didn’t manage to break their seed leaves through the hard seed shell. I think I have another packet of seeds that I may try to direct sow, but my lavatera dreams may have to wait until next year.

 

 

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Mid April 2018- Quick Garden Tour

I wanted to pop in a quick little tour of the garden as it is mostly covered in snow. It will be nice to look back at this in the summer when everything is growing and enjoying the sunshine. These photos are from April 11, around 6pm.

 

Willow Trees behind our house. These are typically the first to have leaves. Nothing yet.
Poplar (and Spruce) in our front yard. No leaves yet, but this thing will be dropping its horrible sticky bits all over our vehicles very soon.
Crab Apple
Raspberries are still under snow
My poppies are starting to “Spring” too! I hope I get some flowers from these this year!
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This is where my tomatoes were (and their corpses are still) last year. Still at least a foot of snow. Old tools and bits of wood to help discourage the dogs from going in the garden bed over winter.
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My ‘Iceberg’ Rose. My delphiniums are also here, and in the back you can also see my Sweet Williams poking out of the snow. This snow bank is beside the shed, and a few weeks ago, the snowbank was almost to the edge of the shed shingles. That tipped over vase i filled with leaves, grasses and pine cones and tucked it there for some lady bugs or other beneficials to over-winter in.
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flooded pots, bricks thrown on the garden bed, and sawdust from button making chucked ontop of the snow to mix into the soil when possible.
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This is the sunniest spot in the garden, and is currently flooded. A few more days of sun and it should dry right up. I think that I will be putting my eggplants in some pots here, but that may change a few times before it comes to the time of things going into their homes for the summer.

Tomatoes (2018)

April 2nd, I sowed my tomatoes. Late for me, but to be honest, It is probably perfect timing in terms of the weather around here.

I didn’t let myself buy any new varieties. However, last year I did manage to finally save some of my own seed. In the few cases where I had my own seed saved, I also sowed some of the original purchased seed as a bit of a fail-safe.

  • 2x ‘Sub Arctic Plenty’McKenzie Seeds from 2016
    • “Developed in Alberta for Prairie climates, this cultivator is an early, upright tomato. It will set fruit, even under cold conditions! Bountiful yeilds of 56-70g (2-2 1/2 oz) tomatoes. Keep well fed and watered. Determinate. No staking required. Heirloom”
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  • 2x ‘Jubilee’McKenzie Seeds from 2016
    • “These glowing, golden-orange, mild flavoured fruits have been prized by gardeners for years. Plants produce bountiful harvest of 225g (8 oz) fruits throughout the season. Indeterminate. Staking may be required.”
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  • 2x ‘Cherokee Purple’McKenzie Seeds (from 2015) AND My own saved seed from last year (2017)
    • The description of this one on the packet is wrong, and is likely for the ‘Black Krim’ tomato. The plants I grew last year were fantastic, and had an excellent harvest, thus I was able to save a bunch of seed from it.
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  • 2x ‘Beefsteak’ McKenzie Seeds (from 2016) (I would have saved from of these seeds from last year, but we ate all the tomatoes before I thought to save the seeds.
    • “Large, meaty, solid fruit, slightly flattened and globe-shaped. Deep, well-drained moisture retaining soil is best. Mild and flavorful for salads and table use. Keep tomatoes away from all members of the brassica family: cabbage, cauliflower, etc. No staking required. Determinate. Heirloom.”
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  • 2x ‘Manitoba’McKenzie Seeds (from 2014)
    • “Very dependable early variety, excellent for the Prairies. Bright, red, juicy fruit. Deep well-drained soil is best. Eliminate blossom end rot problems by deep watering the plants so that the root system will be less affected by fluctuations in soil moisture. Determinate. No staking required. Heirloom.”
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  • 4 x ‘Tiny Tim’McKenzie Seeds (from 2016. I didn’t write the year on this pack, so I could be wrong)
    • “Extremely early scarlet red, miniature cherry tomato. Deep, well-drained soil is best. Perfect for decorating salads and vegetable trays. Determinate. No staking required. Heirloom.”
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  • 4x ‘San Marzano’McKenzie Seeds (from 2014) AND my own seed (2017). I had a decent harvest with these last year, and had decided to save seed.
    • “Italian tomato perfection! 10-12 ounce plum tomatoes grow on large and vigorous plants. Has excellent tomato flavor and is great to eat fresh, make sauces or for canning and drying. Inderterminate – staking required.”
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  • 3x ‘Black Cherry’
    • McKenzie Seeds (from 2016) AND my own.
      • This was probably my best performing tomato plant of last year. It thrived like I have never seen before, and I can’t wait to try to replicate that success this year.
    • “Early Russian variety. Tall 60cm (2′) plants, with oval/round shaved 2.5 cm (1″) fruit. Deep mahogany to brown color. Black color develops best when hot and sunny. Inderterminate. Requires staking”
      • As a note to this; My plant last year, was over 7 feet tall at the height of summer. I kept it well pruned to two main stems. As mentioned above, the only time I got close to a more black color was on the few really hot says in the summer. But these were an amazing producer, and I am excited to see how they do this year, especially from my own saved seed.
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  • 1x ‘Yellow Pear’
    • Burpee Seeds (from 2014)
    • “Clusters of pear-shaped, yellow fruits with mild, delicious flavour. Indeterminate”

 

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a Truss of my “Black Cherry” tomatoes from last year (2017)

I’ll try and keep up with the progress of everything this year, but as always… Life has a way of getting in the way of me being a good blogger. So…. now that I’ve kept your expectations low… Are you growing any tomatoes this year? What kinds? Any tips to share with anyone else reading this? Post it in the comments below.

Peppers and other Nightshades I am growing this year (2018)

What? How is it April 2nd already? Actually, its April 3rd for most of the world already. Typically by this point in the year, I have started all of my tomatoes and peppers and they are getting leggy and moving from the small light area to the one window I have available, and fighting for space with my houseplants. (hey look, I still write in run-on sentences)

Today, on my way home from work, I stopped at Canadian Tire and grabbed some new peat pellets and seed starting soil (and a few seed varieties that I’ll mention when I actually sow them… they weren’t tomatoes or peppers so we’ll get there eventually). I soaked some pellets and got to digging out my seed collection and finally deciding what to grow.

That was when I decided I should dust off this poor blog and write something.

So Peppers (chillies) and “others” is up today. Tomatoes will be up soon, because I also sowed them today too.

Given my small space, and desire to step away from having a ton of containers, I didn’t start any sweet peppers. Maybe next year.

Here is what I sowed this year:

  • 2x ‘Kung Pao Hybrid’
    •  Burpee Seeds (this pack is from 2015)
    • “Vigorous plants produce 11cm thin-walled, dark green fruits that ripen to a bright red”
  • 2x ‘Seranno’ 
    • McKenzie Seeds (this pack is from 2015 or 2016)
    • “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 jalapeno. The fruit measuring 5-7.5cm (2-3″ long) and 1.25cm (1/2″) in diameter are glossy green turning orange-red at maturity with medium thin walls. A favourite in sizzling hot salsas and sauces and Asian dishes.”
  • 4x ‘Long Red Cayenne Slim’
    • McKenzie Seeds (this pack is from 2017)
      • Last year I sowed these from a 2016 pack and had zero germination, so I splurged on a new pack. However, by the time they really got going, the summer was over and I only got maybe one pepper from 6 plants. Here is hoping that I can make up for it this year, as I need some fresh Cayenne Pepper in my spice cupboard
    • ‘These 13-15 cm (5-6″) long hot peppers can be eaten while green or red. Plant in sunny location with adequate moisture.”
  • 2x ‘Purple Tomatillo’
    • McKenzie Seeds (this pack is from 2014) {keep your fingers crossed these seeds are still viable}
    • “This uniquely coloured tomatillo is enjoyed for its sweet, yet tart flavor. The vigorous and highly productive plant provides a visual flare with its striking purple-veined leaves. The fruit forms inside papery husks that begin green then ripen to a deep rich purple. The fruits are great grilled, in salsa, or as a taco topping.”
  • 2x ‘Violetta Lunga di Napoli’ Eggplant
    • McKenzie Seeds (this pack is from 2014)
    • “Dark violet, cylindrical and smooth 20cm (8″) long, rustic, fruits are grown all over Italy. Classic rich eggplant taste. A good, reliable producer.”

As you can see, some of the seeds are getting quite old. I was very generous in the amount of seeds I set to germinate in the peat pellets. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that they decide to spring to life, and also that we have a nice warm summer with plenty of rain to keep things nice and watered.

The “featured image” of this post are some of the Serrano peppers from last year which grew fantastic. I had a decent harvest from the 2 plants I grew. I dried all the chillies from last year and then ground them into a pepper blend that I gave to my father in law for Christmas. Here is the photo I am speaking of if you can’t see it in the header above.

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Still Alive

Okay, it has been well over a month since I posted ANYTHING here. I am sorry about it, since it is kind of the time of year where I have tons of things growing and all the gardening enthusiasm forever. However… I’ve been going pretty non-stop with making things which keeps me away from gardening. (You can check out the Etsy Shop here to see some of the things!) This was a benefit a little earlier, when I didn’t allow myself to start sowing a million seeds. It’s all fine when they are seeds but then they grow and need potting up and then take up triple the space. Space that I do not have. Plus my creative brain gets to be happy and just do as it pleases.

But it meant that I severely neglected my blog. I tried to think of a schedule that I could try and follow for posts here… but I know myself better than that, and would end up apologizing infinitely for not meeting promises of posts because I got distracted. So instead, I’m just going to do what I kind of already do, and just write when the mood strikes. That might mean I write 4 posts in a day and then schedule them, or it might mean (unfortunately) going weeks between posts. I will try to keep it regular, but sometimes it can’t be helped, and me apologising every few weeks is pretty lame.

I wanted to pop in and show you that I legit do have things going on in the garden. So here are some photos:


Rhubarb is taking off! I hope to use more of it this year.


I rescued some raspberries from a garden that was getting a complete makeover. I wish I had grabbed more of them, as I have room for at least 4 more plants. I’m hopeful these fruit on old wood, and I’ll get a harvest this year from them.


Strawberries are looking good. I still need to figure out how to keep the squirrels off of them.


The Sweet Williams that I sowed last year survived winter and I cannot wait to see them this year. They are for my grandpa.


I bought myself a rose for my Birthday. Partly because it is white and I love white roses, and partly because of its name: “Iceberg”. As you can also see, the delphiniums are growing like crazy too. I even divided them and you can hardly tell I took away anything.


Spring onion patch. These just keep coming back so I leave them. I get fresh Spring onion, the bees get a flower they like, and I get fresh seed. Behind them I sowed the Garlic I had left from my crop last year. They are just starting to poke their heads up now. In the back corner of the photo, in front of the orange bag (full of leaves im going to use for mulch and the compost like), are poppies that survived winter! I’m pretty excited for them and hope they are as beautiful as I’ve imagined in my head.


Both my Taragon and Sage survived winter (in ground-not containers)! Possibly the Thyme, and Oregano too, but I’ll wait til June to decide if they legit survived or not.


I sowed this Lupin from seed! I’m glad to see it survived because my big beautiful one was completely destroyed by aphids last year. A second one also survived as well!


And I started digging everything and getting it ready for planting! AND as you can see in the top left, one hollyhock survived the winter, so keep your fingers crossed for me that the flowers are as beautiful as I remember my grandma’s being.

Ps. My clematis died, so if I still have clematis dreams I’ll have to get yet another new plant.