28 February 2021

dead nettles

After the snow melted, I was able to pick a batch of purple dead nettle from the yard- and most of the leaves look perfect, no insect damage.
I lightly stir-fried them and ate with rice and sweet red beans for lunch. Took half an hour to pick and clean the nettles- but felt worth it to get something fresh, green and healthy from the ground when there's almosr nothing in the garden.

a test-

I thought my outdoor thermometers were off (showing diff temps). Put them next to each other and waited ten, fifteen minutes. They read the same. I don't know why I thought otherwise, before.
Realized belatedly that the one in the greenhouse hasn't been giving me accurate idea of the temp in there. I didn't think about this before, but the thermometer has to be in the shade to give the actual air temperature. If the sun is hitting it directly, it heats up the thermometer itself which then reads much hotter. So I'm guessing my greenhouse has never really been at 80°, 90° on recent sunny days. I'd put my hand in there and think it doesn't feel that warm. And the seedlings never wilted. It was probably just over 60°. Well, I moved the thermometer to the other side of the structure. If sun still hits it, I will prop up a piece of cardboard or something behind it. See if that gives me more accurate readings.

27 February 2021

more seedlings!

From my second sowing- yesterday and this morning: tokyo bekana, lettuces, snap peas and marigolds
The older ones are big enough I can see green from kitchen window.

26 February 2021

blue-green trailing succulent

Repotted this little plant which is a favorite, though I still don't know the name. I just wore my eyes out online looking and looking- it's not donkey tail, or string of pearls, or sedum sieboldii, though similar to all of those. Well. It has outgrown its pot:
There were little baby plants in there, but I knocked most of them off accidentally- 
A lot of leaves fell too. I would worry- but in trying to find its name also read more about the care of trailing succulents in general. The leaves are fragile. They damage easily.
New pot:
My inclination when repotting plants is to water them thoroughly afterwards, but I read the instructions on the bag of catus potting mix this time- and it says to put the plant out of direct light and not water it for a week or two. So I did.
I stuck some of the dropped leaves into another pot, just to see if they'll grow. Although I think they're supposed to sit and dry out first? Well, if these do nothing, I'm sure a few more will drop.
Next to the spider plant.

houseplant work

I did some potting up.
First the parlor palms. More because I wanted to try giving them potassium via wood ash rather than they strictly needed larger size pots yet. As they like to be rootbound. I sifted some wood ash from my fire pit and mixed it into the new potting soil. Looks like I've done better than I'd suspected at watering them more sparingly- the soil was so dry it just fell out of the roots when I exposed them!
Next was the chives. They were very rootbound. I had no idea. When I loosened the root mass, it was twice as long as the pot's height!
I trimmed the roots, 
added new soil and hope to see new growth soon.
My plain spider plant was ready to move up-
roots growing out of the drainage holes
Room to grow now-
Could have potted up its baby but I like seeing it here
My brighter crassula moved up one size too.
That's the older jade plant on its left, arrowhead syngonium on its right, and purple undersides of tradescantia zebrina in the background.
Thanksgiving cactus isn't looking happy. Some leaves turning pale. Light? Watering? I don't think this one needs a larger pot size yet but I put a layer of fresh soil on top, and moved it out of direct light
Well, that was fun! Some are still waiting- my second creeping charlie, several of the african violets, asparagus fern and the sansevieria need to move up too. Maybe even the large corn plant. Another day!

25 February 2021

more seedling stuff

Some are just starting to get their first true leaves- arugula
I did a kind of test with my blue collards. I had the saved seed marked- from the pods that had looked good and mature and those that seemed musty or scant. Sowed them on opposite sides of the tray. On the "good" side, every single seed germinated. On the not-so-good side, only one. So I tossed the rest of the not-great packet.
Also tossed the packet of romaine lettuce, saved off my own plants in 2010. None grew this year. So now I know when I save lettuce seed, it keeps for ten years! 
I also sowed dill from two packets each- original bought seed, and my own saved seed, with either end of the trays marked. They all sprouted at same rate. This seed isn't more than a year or two old, I just wanted to see if my saved seed was as viable. Had first accident with seedlings last night- knocked over tray of cilantro. Rescued most of them.
Started more trays on top of the fridge. 2nd sowing! Leaf beet chard, marigolds, golden snap peas, sugar snap peas, webb's wonder lettuce, simpson 'slo-bolt' lettuce, new tokyo bekana, nasturtiums, sweet peas and five kinds of tomatoes- beefsteak, sweet cherry, black cherry, cherokee purple, and saved seed from one large tomato plant a few years back (didn't mark what variety).
Instead of the fermenting method, I had done this simpler thing: rinse the seeds as best able, then just fold into a paper towel and let dry, store in cold. Had read about it a few times. I don't think I can stomach dealing with mold to cleanse tomato seed, so I tried this and now will see if they grow.
Realized belatedly after I was done with all the satisfying work of filling and tamping and misting the trays, that I probably used up trays and seed-starter mix I didn't have to- I could have waited a few weeks and just planted the peas straight into the ground! I got carried away with the sowing task. Well, they have an early start now. I needed two trays for my sweet peas. Kept them separate from the soaking- all the seeds that sank went in the first tray. The floaters in the second. So I'll see if it's true that only the seeds that sink are good. 
All my seedling trays are in use now. Will have to wait until some of the earlier plants are ready for paper pots, to free some up again.

ladybird beetle

Hanging out laundry, found a ladybug on the wicker chair.
Coaxed it onto my hand and moved it
over to a plant
my miniature geranium! because yes the geraniums got to come outside yesterday too-
In the morning bench is on one side of the deck to stay in shade, 
and by afternoon when I move it to the other side, it's warm enough to bring out the geraniums too

24 February 2021

feels like spring

It's going to just touch 60° today. All my little seedlings are out on the table (the greenhouse is scorching!)
I set outside the pot of chives, and brought out from the basement window spot the figs, cuban oregano (how it seems to glow) and bay laurel. 
They're on the lower deck in a shady spot on my wooden bench- will come outside for a week or so on warm days like this to acclimate before I move them to the upper deck in the sun. 
Figs are unfurling their new leaves.
I just learned that an acquaintance of mine passed away two days ago. I do not know the circumstances. I regret that I did not know her very well. She was in the mineralology club with my husband and had visited our home a few times. We had in common a love of plants and traded hostas. I went to her house once- and now I keep thinking of that visit over and over. The conversations we had. How I admired her beautiful ostrich ferns, and the tidy paths she'd built around her house with repurposed brick. I wish I'd known her better or even become friends- I'd always hoped to go back for another visit, and it just never happened. I'm very sad for her family but have never met them. I feel a sense of loss even though we were not close. She once gave me a tiny fern fossil it sits on my bookshelf in a bird's nest that fell in my yard.

23 February 2021

a bit warmer

I cleaned out my mini greenhouse today.
Took out all the deck pots that were stored there, dump the soil all together into the wheelbarrow, mixed it up and sifted out roots, a few weeds and larger bits of bark or sticks with my hands. Stashed the soil in a large pro mix bag, wiped the pots clean and stacked them under the deck. Pleased at how tidy they are- not harboring insects or dug up by the squirrel as in winters past. When it's time to plant my coleus, herbs and other plants for containers, I'll just refill the pots. 

Meanwhile, greenhouse has a full shelf of seedlings! Today it got warm enough the greenhouse heated to near 80° but I couldn't set the baby plants out on the table, there were strong winds. I propped the door open and set some planter drip trays up to block some of the sun, keeping the seedlings from overheating. 
Hard to judge how well that worked- well my trays didn't dry out and the seedlings didn't wilt, so I think it helped.