Saturday, March 29, 2008

Back to Biology 190.. (A brief Science Lesson)

In university Biology, most every one I went to school loved the animal and human Biology, and hated the plant Biology. I was the opposite, although I enjoyed the animal stuff, the plant Biology fascinated me. Lately, as I have been growing my seedlings, all these plant Biology words have been popping up in my mind...(such as transpiration and cotyledons and photosynthesis).

What I think is really cool, and that I didn't quite realize from textbook descriptions back when I was in school, is that when seeds germinate the first leaves that pop up actually aren't the true leaves of the plant. (they are called cotyledons or seed leaves). The true leaves, the ones that you would recognize and allow you to identify the plant are the next to develop, but the cotyledons are what nourish and feed the plant as it is germinating - basically they are an energy boost to get the new plant up to the surface so it can start photosynthesizing...

Marigold "Seed Leaves"(Cotyledons):

Marigolds with their first "True Leaves"

So every day as I've been watching my plants I've been counting true leaves, analyzing seed leaves and waiting for the true leaves that look like the plants I'm growing to develop. Maybe long time gardeners are all aware of this, and it is something I missed out on, but I had totally forgotten all about it, and as I've been gardening all this information has jumped back to the front of my mind...

What I am curious about (caution: I am about to get really "sciency") is how come ALL the plants I am growing are dicots (have two seed leaves when they germinate). Are there any regular garden plants/flowers that are monocots (have only one seed leaf when they germinate). Did I just select all dicots at random, or are monocots simply more rare. So, these are some of the things I think about, although I am not sure most gardeners even care. I am a bit of a geek that way and "school-type knowledge" tends to stick in my brain, while I cannot seem to remember what groceries I need to buy when I get into the grocery store.

The Marigolds are Up!

They germinated very quickly. I've grown marigolds before so I new they were easy. Some of the seedlings already have buds for their first true leaves. But there are still a couple rows that haven't germinated at all. Maybe I planted those ones a little deeper? These are the little heros mix marigolds - a dwarf variety. I have raised garden beds around my house and hope to fill them with red geraniums, purple salvia and orange/yellow marigolds.

Marigolds after 1 week:

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Seedling Update: Geraniums and Salvia

My first two batches of seedlings are doing fabuously. I am so impressed with the geranium and salvia seedlings after all my research told me that they could be tricky. But here they are - the geraniums are 5 1/2 weeks after planting, and the salvia are 3 1/2 weeks after planting. Both have been transplanted into 3" jiffy pots because the newspaper pots just fell apart. I don't think I will be using them again. I really like the jiffy pellets, and they take up way less space to start with. I used them for my marigolds, hostas, basil, and scabiosa. The 3" pots may have been a slight oversight as I am quickly running out of space - but I think the geraniums will need them that large, they are growing quite fast and there is still along ways to go until I can plant outside here. Alas, maybe if I quit buying seeds at the grocery store, I would have enough room.

Tray of transplanted Geraniums:

Geranium Seedling:

Tray of transplanted Salvia Seedlings:

Salvia Seedling:

Seriously...Who's been eating my Tulips?

So I have been patiently watching my gardens, and I come home to see my tulip sprouts look like this:
They've been nibbled on. I don't even know what eats tulips. We have a lot of birds around, but that's about it for animals. I haven't ever seen a squirrel - but we did have a bit of a mouse problem in the fall and if they are back I am not a happy camper.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Great Pepper Cull

So it really wasn't that bad. But there is something about ripping out healthy new seedlings by the roots and throwing them away that seems wrong. But it has to be done. As it is now I have 36 Jalepeno Pepper plants to find homes for.

Peppers Before:

The "Duds"
Peppers After:
Now, according to the instructions when they have 2-3 true leaves growing I will have to transplant them to bigger pots. I have been pretty impressed by how fast they are growing, so that will probably be in about a week or so. And then I have to figure out who to share my plants with...

Melt Snow, Melt!

So, I've been ever so patiently watching the snow in my yard melt - and noticing how big the patches of dead grass are every day. We had a lot of snow this winter, which is pushing back the start of spring and making me anxious. I think I would have been fine had we not driven down to the coast for Easter last weekend and seen their green grass and flowers and leaf buds - so well my old home of Victoria has cherry blossoms and daffodils, this is my yard today:
Although, compare it to my yard on March 12: Notice the bird bath - at one point this winter it was completely covered in snow, and we couldn't see it...

On another note, my seed babies are doing really well. My geraniums and salvia have been re-potted into 3 inch pots, and I have peppers, tomatoes, marigolds, pansies and scabiosa up. I will have to "cull" my peppers this week (remove the weak ones from each pot) which I really don't want to do. But I already have way to many peppers growing and am quickly running out of room on my indoor greenhouse. I am worried about the hostas - none have germinated, and it's been a couple weeks. I spent $5.99 on those seeds - I really want them to germinate, but one website I found says they can take a month, so maybe they are still coming.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

It's Snowing...Again

Seriously...I wake-up and we have 1cm of fresh snow...I am ready for spring!


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Friday, March 14, 2008

Is this Damping Off?

I know the picture is blurry, but I can't find any pictures of what damping off looks like - and I have a tray full of a whitish/yellowish powdery mould - that is now covered in cinnamon - due to my own web research, with tiny delicate scabiosa (ugly name for a pretty flower) seedlings poking up. I am worried that they are going to die - but am more worried that they are going to infect my thriving geranium and salvia seedlings. Maybe this is damping off - or maybe it is just mould?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Too many names...

So, I've been trying to decide on a final name for my blog all week. And so far this new one is my favourite. I'm not very creative when it comes to stuff like this - but if I have a sudden burst of inspiration, perhaps I will change my blogname yet again...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Signs of Spring...

My tulips are up! Well, the tulips I didn't know I had. The ones I planted last fall might have been planted a little late for this region and might be dead...but we'll see, it's still early. I guess that's what happens when you move into a new house in September - the gardens are a surprise in the spring.

However my crocuses are still under this:

Monday, March 10, 2008

More Seeds?

Well, I thought I was done buying seeds, but I keep seeing things I like. I found Hosta seeds - I had planned to buy some Hostas to plant in my shade gardens this year, and then I saw the seeds - $4.99 for 12 - they better germinate. I planted them right away when I got home, but this time I used the peat pellets. They were kind of cool, so I hope they work. Supposedly, Hostas are slow growing and never turn out with the same markings as the parent plants.

I also bought a package of blue bachelor's buttons. I grew these flowers the summer I got married and included them in the bridesmaid boquets and my hair - so when I saw them it was a somewhat sentimental purchase.

And I'm on google!

Search "A Northern Gardener" and you'll find me. page 1.

My first link...

I've been added to the blog flux gardening blog directory:

Gardening Blog Directory

Hopefully, more links to come!


I started a tray of Picante Purple Salvia last weekend. I have seen and grown the red and blue salvia, but I have never seen this kind, and I think it will match nicely with my red geraniums.

The processs for planting my seeds has been pretty much the same for all the flower seeds so far- and it's been pretty successful:

1 - Make newspaper pots and place them in a standard plastic plant tray. Fill each pot with soilless potting mix.
2 - Fill the tray up with water, and let the water soak into the pots until the dirt on top is damp.
3 - Spray each pot with solution of No Damp and water (I haven't had any troubles with damping off yet.)
4 - Place seeds in each pot on top of the potting mix.
5 - Cover with potting mix according to seed package directions.
6 - Cover with plastic dome lid - if the seeds require darkness to germinate, put the dome lid inside a black garbage bag, cut of the extra, and tape the end. This makes it really easy to check the seeds everyday to see if they have germinated.
7 - I have a plant tray heating mat that I use to heat any seeds that need an elevated temperature to germinate. I have read that an electric blanket works as well.
8 - When the seeds germinate - take the plastic cover off the tray and move seedlings into the light.

My salvia one week after planting:

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Geraniums after 3 weeks

I made the pots out of newspaper using a potmaker. I like them, but they do fall apart easily when they are really wet. For the seeds I am starting later this month, I am going to try the jiffy pellets to see what I like better.

A close-up view of two of the biggest plants so far:


I planted 50 Ringo series Cardinal Red geraniums on Feb 16th. Within 5 days, most of them had germinated, and I brought them out into the light. There were numerous stragglers that took almost 2 weeks to germinate, and are still quite small compared to the others. Today, three weeks after planting the biggest ones are just about to sprout their 5th true leaf.

I followed these instructions to plant the seeds and so far it has worked out really well.

I ordered the seeds from Veseys.

Pelargonium hortorum
Ringo 2000 Series is the earliest F1 hybrid flowering geranium on the market. Performs extremely well in our trial gardens every year. "Ringo 2000" does not give up any quality for its earliness; it still offers outstanding garden performance and large rounded flower heads. Its compact plant habit makes it ideal for window boxes, hanging baskets, house plants, planters or beds.
Deep Scarlet is a bright orange red and Cardinal Red is a true blue-toned red.

New Focus...

so obviously I was not interested in writing about my teaching experiences. I have a new focus (and new look) for my blog: gardening. I am growing a lot of plants from seed this year, and I am going to keep track of my progress on this blog.