Rainy days and Sundays always get me down when I can not garden!

Monday, March 9, 2015

SEED DORMANCY and GERMINATION

Seeds remain dormant until suitable conditions come together and trigger them to start growing.  This germination is based on both the internal physiology of the seeds along with external or environmental conditions.  Internal triggers are the age of the seed, it's food storage, health, seed condition, etc.  But more important may be the external conditions........


1.  WATER- Dormant seeds are dry seeds.  They require a significant amount of water to soften the seeds and expose the embryos to moisture.  As the seeds absorb the water they swell and break their seed coats.  Food reserve in the seeds are activated by the water and provide nourishment for the seedlings.

2.  OXYGEN (respiration)-Oxygen is needed for metabolism and energy.  Seeds that are buried to deep, are planted in heavily compacted, or overly wet soil,  will be oxygen deprived.

3.  TEMPERATURE- The temperature of the soil at which seeds germinate can range from the low 20's to high 80's.  If the soil temperature is to hot or to cold, then the seeds will have a lower success rate, a longer germination period or not germinate at all.  Some seeds need to go through a cold snap or even the heat of a fire before they will germinate!

4.  STRATIFICATION (preconditioning)- Altering the seed coat to make it permeable to water.  This can be done by roughing up seeds or soaking them in water prior to planting.  The seed coat is weakened making germination easier.

5.  LIGHT-Most seeds will germinate in the dark.  Some seeds need to be exposed to light for a length of time before they will start to germinate.  There are some seeds that will germinate in both. Check your seed packet for light requirements and planting depth.   Seeds that need light can be placed on top of the dirt.  Seeds that need darkness should be planted 2 to 3 times their diameter, placed in darkness, or covered to block out the light (until germination starts).


There is nothing more exciting then seeing the seeds you have planted start to grow!





Tuesday, February 3, 2015

FULL SNOW MOON




I love how the full moon reflects off the creek in our backyard.  February's moon is called the "Snow Moon" due to the large amount of snow that falls during the month.  This made hunting difficult, so it was also known as the "Hunger Moon" or "Bone Moon".  (Due to the lack of food, Native Americans would eat and make soup from bones.)



"They danced by the light of the moon, the moon, the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon"
                                                                          - Edward Lear

















  

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Anyone who thinks that gardening begins in the spring and ends in the fall is missing the best part of the whole year. For gardening begins in January with the dream. ~Josephine Nuese




I don't know about you but I am counting down to the first day of spring, March 20!  Regardless if the groundhog sees his shadow (6 more weeks of winter) or not on February 2, we are more then half way through winter!

This is a good time to inventory your seeds and seed starting supplies.  Look through seed catalogs and decide what it is you want to grow.  Order your seeds now so you have them in time for indoor starts and direct sowing come spring/summer!

 How old are your seeds from previous years?  Most seed packets have a "packed for" date stamped on them.  Beets and peppers have a "shelf life" of about 2 years.  Beans, peas, and tomatoes are good for about 3 years, while some greens, squash, and cabbages are good for 4 years.  Then there are seeds like onions and celery that you may wish to start fresh each year.  Keep in mind that the quality of your seeds and how they have been handled and stored will also impact their viability from year to year.  If in doubt, test your seeds.  Wet a sheet of paper towel.  Take 10 seeds from the seed packet and place them in the center of the towel.  Fold the towel into quarters and place it inside a plastic bag.  Knot the open end and set the bag next to a sunny/warm window.  After 10 days remove the paper towel from the bag and check for sprouting.  If more then half of the seeds have sprouted, the seeds are good. Less then half you may want to purchase new seeds (or take a chance).  

Do you have everything you need to start seeds indoors?   Most important is your growing medium.  You will need either seed starting mix, grow pellets, or make your own with sphagnum peat moss and vermiculite.  Almost any type of container works.  I have used yogurt cups, take out containers, egg cartons,  made my own paper pots, and bought commercial seed starting products as well. Your seeds will germinate best in a warm location (70-80 degrees), or use germination heat mats.  Once your seeds start to sprout you will need a good light source. This can be a window or under a light (cool white fluorescent) suspended 3 to 4 inches above the seedlings.  (Poor lighting will result in leggy plants.)

The average last frost date (LFD) in my area is between April 7 (50% chance of a frost) and April 23.  If the ground can be worked, cold hardy plants can be set outside 3-6 weeks before the LFD.  It is also possible to direct sow spinach, peas, beets, kale, and radishes at this time.  (Unless using cold frames or hoop houses etc., all other starts and seeds go in the ground on or after the LFD.)

Sow enjoy the spirit of gardening in January while dreaming of spring!

 








 "There are two seasonal diversions that can ease the bite of any winter.  One is the January thaw.  The other is the seed catalogues."
-  Hal Borland

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

SEED BOMBS FOR POLLINATORS

In 1973 Liz Christy  took balloons and filled them with fertilizer and seeds. These seed grenades were thrown over fences, in empty lots, and hard to reach or off limit places.  The idea was that they would sprout, grow and beautify the neighborhood.  This was the start of the Green Guerrillas and the Guerrilla Gardening movement. Since then the balloons have been replaced by biodegradable containers, or, the seed balls or bombs contents is now encapsulated in clay or other absorbent material.

When making your bombs, choose seeds that are ideal for your growing area or zone. You can make bombs for sunny locations, and separate bombs for shady locations.  You can choose annuals, perennials, flower or vegetable seeds.  You can mix various seeds, provided they have similar growing needs.  Also, the type of seeds will determine if your bombs should be tossed in the fall/winter or spring/summer.

Seed balls are fun, quick and easy to make.  The clay runs about $8 (500g) a bag, the seed starter mix $4, and $7 on the wildflower seeds.   You will also need water, something to measure with (or your hands) and a mixing bowl.  For mixing, I went with 5 parts clay to 1 part dirt/compost and 1 part seeds.


Gather clay, compost, potting soil, or seed starter mix, and your seeds.
Also known as potters clay.



Seed starter mix

Seeds that are good for the pollinators. 
Zoned for my growing area.  
I used a 5:1:1 ratio.  Add enough water to moisten, like mud.
Sorta looks like cookie dough.
I made about 200.
Allow to dry for about 3 days.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

FALLS MIGRATION and WINTERS COLD

Fall means shorter days, longer nights, cooler temperatures, falling leaves, migrating birds, and that winter is around the corner.  Once temperatures drop to about 50 degrees, I start to make and put out suet for the birds. 
 
For the birds that migrate to warmer climates, suet helps these birds to fuel up prior to the start of their journey.  For others that are passing through, it can provide a much needed pit stop for refueling!
 
 Birds have a high metabolism to begin with, requiring a lot of energy.  They get that energy from their food.  During the colder months, more energy is burned off to maintain body heat.  The harshness of winter and lack of food, results in a depletion of energy reserves and a weaken immune system.  This can lead to disease and eventually death. 
 
  Suet is high in protein and calories, making it a good food source and providing much needed energy for our feathered friends!
 
 
 
 
 


 
 


 
 
 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

SAMHAIN-SUMMER'S END

 
  The shorter day length and cooler temperatures signals an end to the summer garden.  With the exception of cool season vegetables, or the use of hoop houses and cold frames, most heat loving plants have stopped producing or died off. 
Planting garlic is the last "garden chore" of the current season and the new start of next years garden.  Garlic should be planted early enough to develop roots, before the ground freezes, but not too early that you develop excessive top growth.  In our area, garlic is planted between Columbus Day and Halloween.  However, I have planted garlic into November with good result.
 
 
 
This years choices.
Hardnecks and softnecks  



I added a little wood ash


Crack apart the bulbs just before planting the individual cloves.

Plant 6"-8" apart and 2"-4" deep.  (Pointy side up.)

My helper






Dibbler/Bulb Planter
Green shoots 1 week after planting cloves.

Mulch
 
 The shoots will die back after a hard frost.  Add more mulch, covering the entire growing area.  Come spring, pull back on the mulch to expose the new shoots.