Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Oh Sweet Pea!

After finding out more about my sweet peas yesterday, I was inclined to do more digging on the subject. I glanced outside on Sunday morning and noticed a few of the seeds have started growing. Either they are snow peas, or another variety of sweet pea that I did not start indoors. I planted both in the same spot as I realized after sowing that the snow peas I purchased are not compatible for my zone. I figure it won't hurt to leave them in the ground, if they decide to come up, I'll simply have more peas. If they do not, I won't risk the use of space and decided to plant over them. We shall see how that works out. So, after noticing these have already started growing, I took a look at the package for the sweet peas that are started inside(These are getting very tall and somewhat ridiculous to have inside). I think I should be starting to harden these off since peas like cold weather. I'm just worried that a hard frost will kill a somewhat grown plant versus just a sprouting one. I guess I will find out, at least one variety is growing well.

Any idea if I can put my started sweet peas outdoors before the last frost?

Along with the sprouting peas outside, both varieties of lettuce has started to come up with tiny little leaves. As well as my red/green peppers inside that I was worried about, all is well in the gardening world for me.

This weeks' forecast in the twin cities consists of 70 degree weather, currently being 69, said to reach 73. This, I'm sure will encourage some spring growth with my planted seed, as well as the tulips and daylilies. I am so excited.

On a completely different note, I bought myself a "sorry about the allergies" plant for my desk at work. It consists of 3 pixie lily plants. The best part is, I have no idea what color they will be, except for the hint of a pinky/red/possibly orange color starting on the inside of a few of the pods. Along with that, I received a beautiful bouquet of flowers from my boyfriend this morning consisting of aster, 2 pink/yellow roses, some form of Lilly and some pink snapdragons. And of course hugging the vase is an adorable little bear. I certainly feel special.

After tomorrow, I will have all the time in the world to dig in the dirt and I am sure I will have something much more interesting to blog about. Until then, I am going to enjoy inside garden I am starting at my desk.:)

Monday, March 29, 2010

How Vining Plants Vine

My indoor plants are doing fantastic! Some of the recently started Checkered Poppies, Bergenia Rose, Zucchini, Watermelon, Hibiscus and Morning glories have popped out of the soil this weekend. Along with the Mixed hot peppers. Seems the red/green pepper plants are a bit more stubborn but I'm sure they will come up when they want to. We are expecting weather in the 70's this week! I have Thursday and Friday off from work which means I will certainly be spending most of my free time preparing the garden.
Yesterday I cut down all of the "decorative bushes" aka overgrown weed/trees from in front of our house. This is where I intend to put most of my flowers this year. It will be quite the chore pulling all of those huge root balls out of the ground but I'm up for the challenge. This is the spot that gets the most sun in our entire yard. I will have to sneak in some tomatoes, peppers and maybe even a watermelon plant on the end.

The morning glory's that I started in mid-february are quickly out-growing their pots, well more their posts. The other day, the top of the vine was headed toward my lamp since it's taller than anything else in the room. Funny how that works.
I have been wondering this whole time however why my morning glory will crawl up the bamboo rods I placed into the pots while my sweetpeas just fall and won't cling to anything. After some research, I came across this wonderful article on vining plants. Apparently morning glories, pole beans and others use a twining technique which allows them to twist around anything it touches. However, sweatpeas, passionflowers, etc. use tendrils to latch onto things to keep their growth vertical. Although I was aware that peas had a different method of climbing, I was oblivious to the fact that they need horizontal support systems. Who knew, well I'm sure a lot of people knew but for a fairly inexperienced gardener, this was a pleasant surprise for me. I was worried I had faulty sweetpeas. Apparently what works best is netting with squares that are 2-6 inches wide. I will need to do this asap as I am afraid my sweetpeas will refuse to grow if they can't stand up. Hope you learned something in this blog, since I just have. :)

Friday, March 26, 2010

What a Wonderful Idea

I got this from Garden Fuss but I needed to include it for anyone who would read this, as well as a reminder for myself next year.

Winter Sowing!!
What an amazing idea. Yes you're somewhat limited on what you can grow with this method but if you're anything like me, you get anxious during the winter to get your hands back in the dirt. Who in Minnesota doesn't hate that feeling of needing to plant something and not being able to? That is one great thing about this winter sowing idea. Another being that you don't have to spend lots of money on seed starting kits. I personally do a LOT of indoor starting and if I can sew some of those outside using this winter sowing method, it will free up a lot of my space which I am quickly running out of.

On another note, the second batch of morning glorys that I started on the 20th have all already emerged along with one of the hollyhock(pink) seeds. This is exciting too because I lost track of which plant was a hollyhock with my first batch(white), now I have something to compare to.
I am anxiously awaiting the budding of the Hibiscus I planted.

This is the most important flower to me this year. It's so special because my boyfriend spotted these beautiful flowers at a house down the road from us and asked the lady what they were. He told me that's what he wanted to grow this year. Being that he is so excited for them, I am even more excited.:) I'm just crossing my fingers that they grow well and beautifully.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

University of Minnesota Gardening Workshop

The U of M Home Landscaping and Garden Fair---April 10th 8:00-3:30.
I am going to try to convince my boyfriend(new to gardening)to go to this with me. He volunteered to help me this year but knowing very little except how to work with his hands. It would be so beneficial for both of us to go since I too have much learning to do. The schedule includes lots of different classes that would teach us both a lot. Everything from keeping rodents out of your crops, to edible landscaping, to building bird feeders. It's fairly cheap--$45 for 2 people and it's an all day event. Not to mention Andover is only 20 minutes from our house. Him and I reach our one year anniversary next week so I'm thinking it can be part of our date, just a few days late.

I didn't know about the Minnesota Home Patio Show until it was too late. This would be a great alternative with lots of learning.

Blaine Farmers Market

I have been trying to get involved in my community this spring. I started by contacting Noble Landscaping in Blaine to see about selling my produce and flowers a few times throughout the season at their Farmers Market. There is a waiting list but she informed me there may be a cut flower section this year which I would be able to participate in. After looking over the application form, I noticed a place for Minnesota tax ID (if necessary). This got me wondering if I would need to register for one. I e-mailed the states sales tax office and received a responce to the effect that I would not need to collect or remit taxes on food items however I would need to on flowers sold at retail. I was unsure if "at retail" would include a farmers market since it is not a store or anything of that sort. Also if you make over $500 in a year, you would need to. After more digging, I came upon this Fact Sheet confirming my need to apply for a Minnesota sales tax ID. Oh well, it will make my tax filing much less enjoyable next year, but I would love the experience of meeting other gardeners in the area and having my "own business" if I can even call it that.

I'm thinking about possibly going once or twice to the Minneapolis Farmers Market which is a HUGE get together. They also rent out booths on a day to day basis.

Monday, March 22, 2010

60 days until Last Frost Date!

I am getting more and more anxious as the weather is warming up. I need to force myself not to plant everything outside right now. But better over-prepared than under-prepared.
I'm planning for the last frost date to be around May 11th-21st. Leaving us Zone 4's only 60 days or so until we can plant 80% of our seeds.
I have started an account of this years activities on indoor and outdoor planting. Being that I am fairly new at this, I started very early with peppers and some flower types that require starting 8-12 weeks BLF (before last frost). I am okay with this seeing that peppers take a long time to grow to their fullest potential.

I would like to keep track of what I bought from where:
PS- www.parkseed.com
T&M- www.tmseeds.com
Jung- www.jungseed.com
Burpee- www.burpee.com

I had a busy weekend.
March 18th-21st--
Started 2nd set of Peppers-Red and Green Bell Peppers((Burpee) along with a hot pepper mix(burpee) consisting of the following:Anehime, Hungarian Wax, Red Long Cayenne, Ancho and Jalepeno,( possibly large cherry peppers as well but It wasn't very clear.

Inside I started a few Zucchini Plants(Burpee), 3 Watermelon Plants(PS), Hollyhock-Pink(T&M), Checker Poppies(T&M), Bergenia Rose(PS),Hibiscus-Disco Bell Mix(PS), Scarlet O'Hara-Morning Glory(PS).

Also, planted 2 different types of Cold Weather Lettuce(T&M,Burpee), Snow Peas(T&M) and Sweet Peas-Miss Willmott(T&M) directly in the garden.

(My Morning Glory Vine)

I soaked the Sweet peas, Hibiscus and Scarlet O' Hara-Morning glory in water overnight before planting to encourage germination.

After taking a look to see what else was coming up for spring, I found 4 or 5 daylilies behind our garage that I had not transplanted last year, I moved them to the same spot as our growing tulips.

I found some Irises(I think) behind the garage which I also moved to my spring blooming flower bed.

Regarding the bulbs that I think are Irises, we have some bulbs that are leftover from whoever lived there last which I am thinking are Irises based on the foliage that has started to grow. However they are long bulbs with multiple lumps which I am ASSUMING is the flowers multiplication process from not being separated for years. I should post pictures and see what people think. Granted, I will know in a few months if they really are Irises. Regardless, I transplanted them to the same spot as the Tulips and Daylilies. After looking at this site, I am almost positive I am looking at Irises.

Now recognizing my Irises, I found a great article on dividing them as well as making sure they are taken care of (Iris Borer damage). I know mine are in need of this because the ends of some were soft and rotted.

I am so glad the last people that lived here left me some gifts, I bet they didn't know how much they would actually be appreciated!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Excited about March

We have been experiencing nice warm weather this month...it has been in the 50's and 60's for the last 3 weeks.
My tulips have already started emerging however I'm afraid they will flower before the real winter is over.
The ground is workable and I have begun tilling the soil, taking advantage of the extra time.

So far I have been right on schedule for starting seeds, assuming the last frost comes around May 11th (probably sooner with how nice it has been).
I have already lost track of what I have started (something to learn from for next year) but I have a general idea of what is what. So far I have started Jalepenos, misc. colored bell peppers, multi(hot mix) peppers, sweat peas, hollyhocks, bellflowers, colombine, and some other flowers. They all started growth quick and I haven't seen much happen in the last 2 or 3 weeks but with the sun we've been getting, I'm hoping they will have a growth spurt soon.
This week I need to start my "6-8 weeks before last frost" plants, and I'm running out of room!

This years plants include the following- edibles first, then flowers:
Jalepeno Peppers
Multi bell peppers
Leaf lettuce

Canna Lillies
Hibiscus (most excited for)
Sweet Pea
Many different colored Poppys
Black Pansys
Cathedral Bells-Vine
Canterbury Bells
Balloon Flower
Johnny Jump Ups
Morning Glory-Vine
Shasta Daisy
Red hot poker
Ornamental grass
Wildflower mixes, butterfly mixes, cutting mixes

As the season continues, I will update this with where things are planted, and when...

2010 Garden

This will be my third year of consecutive gardening. Last year (as well as this year) I grew misc. vegetables and flowers in my yard in Fridley, MN. I started very late last year with very little knowledge of the layout--where the ground is mostly shaded, what kind of soil I had to work with, what was already planted etc. The previous owners of my house left a few goodies behind including 20 or so Tulip bulbs, many daylilly plants, chives, 7 or 8 hostas, ferns, rhubarb and a plant that I am unsure of but looks nice.

* EDIT* I just realized another unidentified plant that was already there, we have a bunch of Iris bulbs behind the garage!!! I am transplanting them the second I get home! :D **

Many areas that are bricked off for planting have been untouched for years, overgrown with weeds and grass making it a huge chore to dig up considering I do not have a rototiller. Regardless, I am taking on more work this year and planting every area I can that gets sun. One of these areas is directly in front of the house which currently filled with ugly, plant/tree/bushes that my boyfriend and I are taking on the task of removing this year. This bed is very large and is one of 2 spots that receives sun all day; making it very valuable space to me.
Here is a list of my successes last year, accompanied by what I attempted but planted too late in the season (again, last years garden was essencially an afterthough, probably not planted until into june):
Succesfull plants:
Jalepeno peppers(all peppers bought started)
Mole peppers
Red/Green bell peppers
Leaf lettuce(multi-colored)
1 large sunflower (many premature, small sunflowers)
Various flowers--no idea what I planted

Peas(caught a disease)
Onions (still growing as we speak)

I would like to start journaling this year so I know what I planted, when I planted and where...Also what works where and what didn't.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring Growth

First Signs of Tulips and a few perennial flowers Today!!!

I bought Flourescent bulbs for the indoor plants(should have done this earlier) because I have noticed things aren't growing very rapidly. I have been gaining more knowledge within the last few weeks than I have in the last 3 years. I want everythign to be essencially perfect this year. It never will be but for the effort I am already putting into this, some results are guaranteed.

I somehow misplaced my package of Big Boy Tomatoes which is a problem for many reasons...I saw them before I was about to start planting them and then when I went to pick them up they had pretty much disapeared. I've searched the whole house and can't find them anywhere. Quite the mystery. They need to be started right about now and I hate to but another package and then find them a day later but I just might have to.

If you are growing tomatoes this year, I suggest you throw a couple extra plants in your garden for this year epecificaly. If you don't read the news, there was a freezing in Florida that ruined basically all of the tomato crops as well as strawberries. My sisters restaraunt isn't purchasing tomatoes until the prices go back down. She told me they went up $50 per case. That makes a huge difference when buying in bulk. Just an idea on how to make a bit of money or AT LEAST help out your family members that are noticing the price increse.