Updated: Sep 25, 2019
The Ides of March is almost upon us and I'm only just getting to writing this post. Taking time from gardening to sit down and write will be an ongoing challenge from now until at least October when the final pumpkins are harvested as we've reached the point in the year when true gardening begins and researching, planning, and writing about the garden (finally!) takes a back seat.
Given how cold and snowy it has been this March, it is hard to believe that much gardening is taking place, but behind the scenes I've been busy as a bee in July. The seed starts are humming with tons of baby seedlings nestled in their seed trays. I've learned at least one new thing this year and was reminded of a discovery from last year:
1. Cup and saucer vine seeds rot if you cover them with more than a tiny sprinkling of dirt. Of the 15 I planted only 2 germinated and those were the most shallowly planted seeds. I just ordered a whole new pack of seeds to start though because I'm super excited about this flowering vine that reaches 20 feet tall and is pollinated by bats!
2. Bells of Ireland, my earliest cut flower crop of the year. Last year I lost almost all of my seed starts because when the seeds germinate, they look like white mold creeping along the surface of the dirt. Disgusted I scooped the "mold" out and was shocked when only a handful of the seeds grew into anything. This year I left the white stuff alone and currently have 25 Bells of Ireland plants about 3 inches tall and itching to get into the greenhouse.
Speaking of the greenhouse, Facebook reminded me that March 4th last year I was busy putting sweet pea and Bells of Ireland starts into their beds in the greenhouse...Ummm....its a whole 10 days later than that and my seeds, my greenhouse, and I am NOWHERE near to being ready for transplanting! For one, my trip to Costa Rica pushed all seed staring back by two weeks this year so the plants are too little and delicate for the move.
Secondly, it has been SO cold I have not had the heart to convert our greenhouse from winter speakeasy to productive greenhouse. Third and finally, it has been WAY to cold to even contemplate heating the greenhouse enough to keep plants growing. I'm REALLY hoping that the four days of 50 F weather projected for late next week actually arrives that this is when I can get the greenhouse up and humming and begin hardening the seedlings off for transplanting.
Another reason I NEED the greenhouse to be functional are the 59 dahlia splits I potted up in February. Of the 59, 14 already have sprouts. I don't want to be ungrateful but 100% of the 14 that have sprouted are dahlias that I really didn't love last year, they are small and a chocolate red color that looks adorable in sunflower arrangements but were sent to me by accident and don't really fit my floral style...I may need to find a home for at least 10 of them (any takers?). I'm not too worried about the sluggish remaining dahlias as I know that the larger dahlias (and especially the dinner plant Goliaths) take a lot longer to get started so they'll be on their way soon enough, just not soon enough for impatient me! Point being, these 59 dahlias have got to be moved out of my arboretum, they are taking up valuable space.
And, as if I needed ANOTHER reason to get the greenhouse going, I have TWO workshops coming up! Baby plants need to buck up and move out of my design space! The first workshop is a flower arranging workshop in late March that is already sold out! I will be providing bucket-loads of flowers for my lovely participants to play and create with, I can't wait! In April I'm hosting a Seed Starting Workshop that I am beyond excited about, and there are still a few spots!!! April 13th I'll lead a small group of participants through the ins and outs of indoor seed starting while we sip wine in the Arboretum! Each participant will get to plant a windowsill greenhouse with their choice of veggies or flowers (or both) and will leave with a dozen seed babies nestled in their greenhouse ready to grow and a heat mat for optimal germination!
For this year's workshop I am focusing on heirloom veggies and pollinator friendly flowers because the bees and butterflies can use all the help they can get! Consider joining us for a fun and educational evening.
So, while gardening is still confined to the indoors and the indoors are increasingly getting more and more crowded as plants outgrow their little starter cells and get potted up, every day the sun stays up a little longer and the nights are a little less cold. It'll be time for spring planting before we know it and I CANNOT wait!