Monday, March 27, 2017

Still awaiting spring

      We have had yet another storm, with 30 cm. of new snow, so the tiny signs of spring (can you see some crocus and other bulbs peeping out?) are now covered again. I got out last week and did a bit of raking on the south side of the yard, and pruning some evergreens to bring a bit more light in to the "Primuland" bed, just in the upper right of the photo.
      And then the snow came. The seeds in the house are coming along apace - I've pricked out about four dozen tomato plants and there are quite a few more to come.

       The peppers I was so proud about have come a bit of a cropper...I put the flats on the bottom shelf of my mini greenhouse in the living-room, under lights, and one of the cats decided that as it was on her level it must be a new kind of cat grass. Thus I've lost about half of one flat and a third of the other. She obviously didn't like the taste, because she just beheaded them or pulled them up - and left them. They still don't have true leaves so I can't prick them out yet - but I have put them up high and only have pots of seeds which haven't yet sprouted on that fateful bottom shelf.
       Here's the most recent snowfall. The sun is warmer now, so it's going fast, even though the temperature hasn't been above zero - much - since. I did get out to the polytunnel on Saturday to do a clear-out, dumping pots of dead plants and sorting all of the pots into sizes and shapes (round vs. square).  I found the temperature and humidity gauge in a trug and started to record the highs and lows as I did last spring. I will need to have some proof of above-zero in there at night before I dare to put any of the precious stuff indoors now, out there. I did use an electric heater in there last year, but it's not quite so crucial this time - no wedding flowers to grow!! 
        I put in this photo because I had left my rake in the south part of the garden and there it is - resting until the snow goes again.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


          We had another snowstorm last night. Didn't stop school, as it was over by morning, and warming up. However, there was enough for the snow man to come and clear the driveway. Yesterday I had a look around at the places where there were bulbs last year. There was snow, or even where the ground is bare, not so much as a tiny blade showing, this year. I'm trying to channel my disappointment by seed-starting and watching gardening shows from last year. I planted a LOT of bulbs last fall (Veseys bulb sale again) and am especially anxious to see if they survived - I bought snowdrops again and hope that they will make it. I would love to have some snowdrops!
Last year's white crocus, up and soon to bloom
         Last year we had bare ground and crocus! I do like the "go back 12 months" thing about iPhoto. I don't like much about it so I should admit to liking that. In looking back I discovered that I was working on wedding stuff - making a 1930s-style sandwashed silk charmeuse wedding dress, and building a "Paper Moon" photo backdrop, also for the wedding, with my sister. She helped greatly with the dress as well,  and both turned out. The photo booth is still at my house, I'm looking for a home for it. The moon takes up a lot of space.  But it features in a lot of photos!

          I'm also channelling my energies into knitting, trying to finish up some of the many UFOs on my Ravelry project page.  I'm trying to finish one thing before starting something else, but somehow it's more interesting and fun to do something new. Even though I know that finishing something is easier, in that I already have a head start. I'm bored! I want to go outside!

Friday, March 10, 2017

It's Fuchsia Season

          Today I nipped out the growing tips on three of my (attempted) standard fuchsias. (I'm using "Fuchsias The Complete Guide" by George Bartlett as my bible for this project.) One is 21 inches, one 31 inches and the other is 35 inches. I think the last two are the bare minimum for full standards (G.B. says fulls are 30 to 42 inches) and I don't really know how the tops will grow and whether their "trunks" will still be this length when the top grows out. (The 21 inch one will be a half standard.) It's so thrilling. I have them in rather large pots (G.B. recommends 3 inch ones, and mine are 5 inches square) so I hope they will not get discouraged. I am supposed to leave the leaves on the stem "until a head is formed" so I'm not doing anything else at the moment. I'm to keep pinching out the tips of the side shoots to get a bushy top, but they're too small for that yet. I have two others which still have some room to grow up their flower stick so I'm not going to stop them yet.
        In other fuchsia news, I have overwintered a number of them in the cold garage (kept at 4 degrees C.) and when I checked recently some were coming into bud and leaf. I have re-potted them all (except one) and am hopeful that they will survive. I had two tiny ones I was especially fond of in baskets by the front door, and so far only one has sprouted. However I keep spritzing the other one and I hope it will survive. This photo shows them before they got hung up outside last summer. I don't know which one I like best, but if one doesn't make it I guess I shall prefer the other. They both suffered quite a bit from neglect over the summer (forgetting to water them was the problem) so I should be pleased that they want to keep growing for me.
The one I haven't re-potted is covered with small sprouts so I am keeping it going, for taking cuttings (I'm greedy, I know). I had a huge "Swingtime" fuchsia in a large pot for several years, so I re-potted it - and it turns out that it is them as I now have 5 separate plants. Not much sign of growth so far but I am hopeful. I just re-potted them this week.  They had a lot of root.
           After Easter last year the Superstore had hydrangeas in lovely printed tins for 99 cents each. We got a few, and I checked their zone - it was 6 which is just a bit better than our 5B. So I re-potted them and kept them outdoors in their pots all summer, and brought them in to the garage for the winter. When I got the fuchsias out of the way I discovered that the hydrangeas were coming out in leaf as well! The white one even has flower buds. Is it planning to bloom for Easter? It is "Alaska" and the two others are "Bottstein" a reddish - purple. One of those bloomed last summer in the pot! I feel like I should re-pot them, but they are in quite big pots, hard to manage indoors. And I think I should leave the blooming one anyway. Pretty great for 99 cents. I plan to put them outdoors eventually with lots of protection, but for now I'm just so happy with them for surviving.
           I was getting quite pessimistic about my seed-starting abilities, as there were no signs of either peppers (planted 10 Feb.) or tomatoes (planted 28 Feb.). They yesterday, the tomatoes showed up! And today the peppers have popped out.
3 kinds of tomatoes: Sweet Million, Mountain Magic, Mosaic Mix

Peppers: New Ace. 

            Planted another tomato today ( a heritage variety from my sis) and I am optimistic they will be along shortly. Now that the fuchsias are in the house I can bring in my wire shelving unit from the garage and get the seedlings under lights and moving along. Today I also started seeds of nemophila "penny black" and scarlet flax, which was lovely last year. Roll on summer.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

My Garden, Right Now

        Just went out to do a photo shoot for #mygardenrightnow, and I think I may be in the winter end of the gardening spectrum of all those participating. The temperature is -13C, with windchill it's -23C. Luckily we are sheltered so there's not much windchill here. But it's not exactly gardening weather yet.
       I checked on the raspberry canes, which are all tied in and looking great. Behind me is the vegetable plot with tomato cages and dead kale. Up to the right in the photo are two cordoned apple trees and there's a cold frame behind them - a frozen frame at the moment. Not a lot in there as yet. Behind the vegetable plot is a lilac hedge, and the flowers are on the other side of that. Nothing on show at the present but snow.
      I have some of my winter-sown seeds on the deck, and some down on a table in front of the poly tunnel. When I put them out, last month, I stuck them into a snowbank on the table. Now,
that snow is gone. See, spring will come! It's lovely and warm in the poly tunnel at the moment, but I don't dare put anything out there as it will freeze tonight. All the regularly-sown seeds (vegetables, etc.) are indoors for quite a while yet. The winter-sown ones are all hardy annuals or perennials which would happily self-sow if they had a chance. Nothing happening in there at the moment! It's tempting to put them in the cold frame but they need the snow and rain to water them - my hose can't be outdoors in this weather either so I can't water them.
     Luckily I have a few bulbs indoors to cheer me up on days like this! This is Amaryllis 'black pearl', bought at the Veseys bulb sale last fall. I potted it up at Christmas. It took quite a while to develop roots but my long wait has been rewarded!
    I have a lot of seedlings in the office and the den - the two rooms with the best southern exposure, and it's where I also have my attempt at growing a standard fuchsia. I had five slips, taken late in the fall, which I discovered had rooted, so I potted them up and started tying them in to sticks. I have to confess that I didn't
think they would make it to the top of the sticks I could find at the time I was potting them - now I wish I'd had longer ones. All five are doing well - they do get aphids from time to time but I've been taking them in to the bathroom for a shower every now and then and that seems to work to clean them off, at least temporarily. The aphids love the new side shoots, also, and as I have to pinch those off, I take great pleasure in pinching the aphids to death at the same time. I believe these are a white fuchsia (both flower parts are white) which might be 'Annabel', though I'm not sure. It is really hardy and easy to propagate for me, and it tends to have long branches, so I hope that they will make an interesting statement in the flower garden this summer.