28 February 2010

daylily corner

In the corner between mudroom and house wall, against the driveway where the ground slopes down, something is growing! It looks pretty messy there because I never cleaned up last fall, thinking the Orange Daylilies I transplanted would need their dead leaves to store energy for winter- do they do that like bulbs do? But if you look closely, can see the new plants emerging again. Actually, a few of them are Tulips- I can already see the flower buds forming. I didn't think there were any tulips left in that corner- will have to remember to mark and move them this fall! (I want them all in the front of the house). The lighter-colored shoots that grow in a fanlike formation are the Daylilies.

little geranium

A little over a week ago, I gave my bonsai Geranium a trim, and just now the new little leaves are growing out. The cutting has gotten quite a bit larger, too. Funny, though, I'm pretty sure I planted it in the middle of the pot, but it's situated near one side now. How did that happen?

27 February 2010

onion greens

Well, I think I figured out what's wrong with those onions planted for greens. It's not a disease, it's lack of water. I had been letting the soil dry out between watering but now that I soak them every day, one is starting to recover a bit and lift its leaves. The smallest one, still in a jar of water, is doing best of all. It never even wilted. I think if I do this with an onion or garlic again, just going to keep it in a water jar.
the largest one is nearly dead

the medium one is getting better
the smallest one never suffered at all

26 February 2010

tiny kiwi plants

Those seeds I planted out of a Kiwi? A few have grown- from teeny tiny seedlings to teeny tiny plants. Only a half dozen, out of the fifty I must have sown. So not very successful, but all I was curious about was to see one grow! The largest here was the first to come up- it now has several leaves. There are also some straight-leaved plants with reddish stems, that grew in the same tray. I think from some seed sitting dormant in the soil, no idea what it is. Probably a weed.

25 February 2010


I've noticed since the seedling trays have been going outside under plastic, some new Lettuce have germinated. These hug the soil, not tall and spindly like the earliest plants. I think it's because they're finally getting enough light! So took my little scissors and trimmed away many of the taller plants, that were crowding them out. Also thinned the Thyme.
simpson lettuce

Thyme. The one with three leaves on left I think is Rosemary, the only one of those seed that grew

scissors used to do the job, and the trimmings

24 February 2010

first growth

The piles of (now dirty) snow are only half-melted, but in a patch of bare ground hit by mild sun, something is already growing! I think it's Tulips; I know I forgot to dig up and move the bulbs last fall, so there are still a few in the garden patch. These are under the kitchen window.

23 February 2010

pepper seedlings

Those yellow pepper seeds I planted? they've grown! Just now putting out their first new leaves. I planted thirteen sprouted seeds, ten came up, three keeled over (damping off?) After that happened I replanted them as you see here, in cleaner soil with crocking in the pot. At least, now I know what pepper seedlings look like- I think last year I only got one plant because didn't know what the young plants looked like and pulled them up with the weeds.

22 February 2010


A while ago Daughter and I made a sort of bird feeder out of a cut milk carton. It looks pretty tacky, but has attracted a few birds! I think they're some kind of sparrow. We see cardinals flitting about too, and this morning heard a woodpecker in the back trees.

I didn't get very good pictures because took them from inside, through the window. I knew if I stepped outside for a better shot, they'd fly away!

21 February 2010

cold frame (of sorts)

Even though my seedlings were started too early indoors, I'm trying to keep them growing. Figure I can use the experience. I made a sort of coldframe out of a plastic bag that fits a comforter, zipped shut and set on a wide decorative brick outside on the patio, where it gets the most sun. Put all the little seedling trays in there, along with one of the Basil pots. Already when I went back to take a few photos, the plants were standing up a bit straighter, condensation dripping inside, and the air plenty warmer when I stuck my hand in. Hopefully they get a lot more light out there, protected under plastic, than in the narrow windowsills indoors.

nice and steamy in there!

this last photo patched together from two, so it overlaps a bit at the back

20 February 2010

twisted onions

I was so proud of these growing Onions, but then I noticed that while the one in my daughter's bedroom window was all straight and pretty, the ones in the living room window are twisted and curling. The smallest onion in a baby jar of water is still straight, too. So I worry they might have some disease. I don't know if that makes the greens bad to eat, and that's what I grew these for, so I'm probably going to have to throw them out. They got a little bit of reprieve, though, as A. thinks the curling leaves have an interesting appearance and wants me to keep them around for a while. Moved out of the windowsill, though, where space is premium.

They seemed to start so nicely, too! I wonder if the disease was in the soil? and if so, I hesitate to pot up that last smallest onion (in the front of the photo here) for fear it will get the same sickness. I did notice that the sick ones had been planted up to their necks, whereas the healthy one only a little of the base of the bulb covered with soil. Maybe that has something to do with it?

19 February 2010

indoor herbs

Where a week ago the Cilantro was all droopy from transplanting, and the Basil looked fine, now it's the other way around. The Cilantro has sprung up, and even the seedlings I had (very doubtfully) moved into the new pot, are all standing up tall and putting out new leaves. The Basil looks shabby and sad. I think perhaps because A. didn't know they were recently repotted and went and pulled leaves off for cooking. He might have tugged too hard and rocked them off their little roots or something. No matter, there's already new Basil sprouting from the seeds! Happily, the ones planted from seed I saved out of the garden are growing faster than the ones from store seed! I'm pretty confident I can save seed to grow my own Basil year after year now.

wrong time

Stupid me. Why did I get so eager to start seedlings early? Today I finally figured out how to look up the last frost date for my area- it's somewhere between mid-april and may, safest estimate may 10th. So then I got out all my seed packets and actually read the directions. Sorted them by dates they can be planted, indoors or out, and made up a little chart so I don't forget. The earliest I can start growing seed inside isn't really for another two or three weeks, even for the lettuce. All those seedlings I have going now will probably die- being held indoors too long they'll get starved for light and space, put outside too early the frost will kill. O well. I'll nurture along the biggest ones just because I like to see things growing in my windowsill, and not get upset if the cat knocks over a tray (like happened yesterday to the Cauliflower, although the seedlings, picked up off floor and replanted, recovered nicely!)

18 February 2010


I had forgotten to check my seedling trays, and when did yesterday delighted to find them all growing! Only the poor seedlings had been trapped under the plastic and searching for light, so their stems are all long and bent. They are now sitting in windowsills, moved about to catch the most of daylight and put close under reading lamps for a few more hours in the evening.
Romaine lettuce
Simpson lettuce


Well, the Avocado pit is doing something. The skin is cracking. I hope this is a good sign!

17 February 2010

garden plans

Evaluating how last year's garden did, to help think out my plan for this year's. Plants that did very good last year:

Lettuce- always an abundance, and the saved seed grew!
Green Beans- we're still eating frozen garden beans
Tomato- even the volunteers gave us yummy tomatoes
Basil- still have scions of the garden plants indoors
Cilantro- saved lots of seed, hope it will help deter pests
Carrot- first planting grew best, (remember the hot water trick)
Swiss Chard- grew back after being cut down in summer heat
Garlic- already planted from fall, ready to go again

I'm definitely planting all these again.
These plants did well, but not spectacular:

Cantaloupe- delicious, but damaged at last by cucumber beetles
Cucumbers- delicious and prolific, but all plants destroyed by the beetle
Mint- grew well, but did not get used much
Pumpkin- only a few pumpkins for all the vines. Needs more space?
Radish- lots of radishes, but my family doesn't like to eat them!
Snap Peas- not a lot of peas, and plants tended to get mildew
Zucchini- succumbed to the cucumber beetle, also in the fall quit producing as many fruits although lots of flowers. Now I think I only had one or two male plants, and that was the first one to get sickened by the beetle.

Going to plant all these again, except for the radishes and mint.
Plants that just did okay:

Beets- not many grew to maturity, but those that did delicious!
Bell Pepper- only one plant grew, it did very well
Onion- never much larger than the original sets
Potatoes- ditto, and I think I didn't water them enough
Broccoli- those started indoors did poorly, the ones planted directly into garden soil much better

Want to try them all again, except perhaps the potatoes.
Plants that did poorly for me:

Corn- most of them grew, but something ate the young plants (slugs?)
Oregano- grew well, but died when its pot dried out (weekend away)
Watermelon- only one seed germinated, eaten by bugs immediately
Spinach- only a few plants grew, the slugs got 'em
Sweet Peas- a few grew, but never flourished
Cauliflower- planted too late, didn't mature in time
Cabbage- actually one grew into a  huge plant, but no one wanted to eat it! got composted

I am going to grow Oregano again, and try the Cauliflower and Corn simply because I still have seed. The others, not this year.
Plants that did not grow at all:

Hot Peppers
Parsley- this one did sprout, but then I redesigned the garden, making the paths, and all the little seedlings got disturbed and died

I don't know why the rest didn't grow. I might try some of the herbs again.

16 February 2010


A little while back we were walking through the mall and A. noticed I kept eying certain plantings arranged throughout the common spaces. He's heard me ramble on about propagating plants from cuttings lately and said: you want a leaf, don't you? tell me which one; and he picked off a few. So now I'm going to see if I can make them grow.

Brought home at first they were just in a glass of water.

Then yesterday I finally looked up what they are. One is an Schefflera (or umbrella) plant, my mother used to have a big one in the corner of our living room. Another is some kind of Philodendron, very easy to grow from cuttings. The third I think is a variety of Aglaonema, the leaf still tightly curled. All the info I look up says the Aglaonema can be propagated from cuttings, but none say just from a leaf. However, that's all I have, so I stuck it in some damp, well-drained soil. Same with the Schefflera leaf. The Philodendron I've left in the water glass to see if roots grow first, before potting it.

The aglaonema here is next to my little geranium start.

15 February 2010

avocado experiment

Did a bit more reading, and realized my Avocado project could be done better. Tons of people apparently grow Avocado pits into trees, starting by suspending the pit over a jar of water. Now that I think about it, this seems vaguely familiar. I might have done something similar as a child. So I've unwrapped the pits and made up two jars. One set atop the fridge, the other my daughter insisted on putting in her window, next to one of the onions. I did read that some people have trouble with the pits going moldy before they sprout, but if that happens we might try again, just putting them directly into a pot of soil. There's never a shortage of avocados to try this with, as my husband likes them and eats many!

14 February 2010

starting seeds

The snow is beginning to melt outside, dripping from all the eaves. Buds showing up on the ends of tree branches. Saw a robin the other day.

The top of my fridge is getting crowded; I planted half a dozen small plastic trays (saved from food packages) with seeds to get started on the garden. One tray has Rosemary and Thyme seed, another Basil, also the small plastic greenhouse with little clay pots planted with Basil (garden seed in the greenhouse, store seed in the tray). Three trays each have Lettuce- one romaine (store seed), one simpson (garden) and the last one bibb (garden). Also sowed a tray with Cauliflower seed.

Although I don't have all the proper materials, I did the best I could. I lined the bottom of each tray with shards, then put a piece of cheesecloth over that, then about an inch of potting soil. I hope that does the trick, as these trays don't have drainage holes. Watered very carefully with an eyedropper (so as not to wash the seeds out of position) and covered each tray with plastic wrap to keep humid. Set in a warm place- some atop the fridge, a few others atop the bookshelf in bedroom, which is near a heat vent- to wait for them to sprout.

13 February 2010


A few days ago ate a fresh Mango for breakfast, and this time saved the seed husk. Cleaned it, and let dry out on the windowsill. When I cracked open the husk, the seed inside had already begun to split its skin. Now it's snug in a pot of dirt. I hope I didn't plant it upside down. Wait and see what happens!

I love doing these little growing experiments when it's still winter but my green thumb is itching. I'm encouraged in them by remembering one of my art teachers from college. He brought a whole coconut back with him from vacation in Hawaii, picked up off the beach for mere curiosity. He set it on the surface of a pot of soil. It grew roots and then sprouted leaves. I was always so intrigued that he was growing a coconut plant! I did some sketches of it, and featured it in a pen and ink drawing here.

12 February 2010

onion greens

Look how well the Onions are growing! Today they got repotted, mostly because I wanted to add the better drainage of crocking, but at the same time I discovered the roots were already filling up the space, so put them each in a larger pot. I also found my last (and smallest) red onion had tiny rootlets coming out of its basal plate, although no green sprout. Just to see, I put over a little baby food jar of water. The roots are growing, not nearly as fast as the others did, and so far no sprout yet. Maybe this only works if it's sprouted already? Hm.


After reading more about houseplants, realized I've done so much wrong! I never before put crocking in the bottom of my pots, plus realized most of them were in too large of pots, resulting in the slightly sour smell of soil that never dries out properly. So today I did quite a bit of repotting. They really do drain a lot better with the shards in the bottom! (I don't have any old broken clay pots but instead used some tiles which I found in the shed, and busted with a hammer).

The Cilantro especially looks very sad (we've eaten most of it too) but most of the newly-planted seeds had not sprouted yet, so I just pushed them back into the soil. Cut the nicest shoots of Basil off the tops of the plants, stripped their lower leaves and stuck them back into the moist (and now well-drained) soil. I've had some success with Basil like that before, they grow roots readily. The three tallest stalks of Basil there, with slightly woody stems, are the original rooted plants. So now I have two pots of Basil and one of Cilantro. I've put a sheet or two of cardboard between the plants and the window pane to shelter them a bit while they recover.

11 February 2010

geranium bonsai

Did I never show you my little Bonsai? I bought it at a gardening street fair in the early fall, last year. It's a dwarf Geranium, supposed to make pink flowers atop the foliage, but I don't know how large it has to grow first. I've been trimming the leaves every now and then to give it shape. Recently cut off a small branch that was coming out of the base of the plant, and just stuck it in the soil of another small pot. So far it seems to be doing okay, it's even sprouted a new leaf.
But after reading up a bit on plant propagation (Thalassa Cruso) I realize I did it wrong (again!). Ought to have let the cutting dry out and heal at the base before planting, and mixed some perlite into the soil to drain better. Well, I'll see if this little plant survives, and if not try again. Ordered some books about bonsai, too, as I really don't know what I'm doing! I've put it under a glass globe to protect from drafts in the cold windowsill for the time being.

10 February 2010


The yellow pepper seeds I planted are beginning to push above the dirt. There's two or three in each pot shoving their heads out. Kiwi seeds have also begun to sprout- they are the smallest seedlings I've ever seen! Encouraged, I planted another two trays of them from yet another overripe kiwi (I don't like kiwis so if A doesn't eat them, they just get composted). I realize it's pretty ridiculous for me to be trying to grow from seed indoors in a nearly-basement level when it's a blizzard outside. Low light, and short hours of it. I don't have any grow lights, either. So I've set my old drawing lamp above the seedling trays atop the fridge, to give them some extra light where it's warm.

09 February 2010


Neighbor gave me a cutting off his Poinsettia a few days ago, which I stuck in a jar of water to see if it will grow roots. I think it would do better with rooting hormone and soil, actually, but I don't have any of the powder (the nurseries are all closed until March). I used to do this with cuttings of my mother's creeping charlie plants. My neighbor told me once when he was a teenager he picked up the leaf of some exotic tropical plant off the floor of an arboretum, took it home and put it in water. When it grew roots, he potted it. It grew very quickly, and before long was a towering lush plant that nearly reached the ceiling. He gave it to a family member who kept it for some five years!
Well, the Poinsettia cutting is not doing too well. The leaves are looking poorly, a bit yellowed and starting to curl. I think it may be getting too much sun, and have moved it to a counter just aside the kitchen window where there's plenty of light still but none of it direct. I also read more about growing poinsettias from cuttings and realized I did it all wrong. Wrong time of year, wrong part of the plant, etc. But still going to try and see if it survives; I stuck it in a small pot of soil and covered with a clear plastic jug as it needs humidity. Hopefully it does better.

08 February 2010


The Cilantro in my windowsill pots is getting nice and lush, although a bit leggy. Perhaps not quite enough sunlight (as our windows with the deepest windowsills, that will hold pots, are also very close to ground level outside). I was pleased yesterday to pinch enough of the herb for A. to make fresh guacamole. It smells great when I crush a leaf between fingers. Excellent also in a marinade for grilled shrimp, or pho soup! I pushed another dozen seeds (saved from the garden) into the soil so we'll have a new batch soon. I remember last summer when I dried the plants, thinking I had way too many seeds gathered. Now I'm glad I saved them all, as I can successively plant Cilantro to keep us in fresh herbs throughout the winter, and still have enough left to plant the garden when it gets warm enough outside.

07 February 2010

frozen compost

A few days ago I emptied another compost bucket from the mudroom onto the outside pile, even as the bin is cold frozen, and drifted with snow. Just yesterday we got hit with a record snowstorm, there's thirty inches of snow on the ground now. And I was itching for spring planting time! Looks like it's going to be a bit longer.