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Monday, March 24, 2014

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What Flower
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Tomato Plugs Ready to Transplant

The first tomatoes I planted have their second set of leaves which means I can transplant them into larger containers.    I used peat pots because the are biodegradable and its reduces the transplant shock when they are planted in the ground.  I will grow them out for 4-5 weeks in the larger peat pot.   This variety is Mr. Stripey, and heirloom variety.    Here are some pictures of the plugs and the plants in the larger peat pots.  I don't fertilize them yet because they will burn.  I do use a weak dilution of B-1 transplant solution.

Petunia Seedlings - Good Germination

My daddy petunia's are all sprouting and it looks like I had very good germination.  I planted blue daddy and strawberry daddy.  This is a 288 plug tray which means there are 288 cells.  I will let them grow out a bit before I transplant them into peat pots  The daddy series are a upright petunia with darker veins which make a pretty blossom.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Amaryllis Blooming - Double Dream, Flamenco Queen and Red Pearl

These 3 varieties of amaryllis were blooming in my garden plot.   The first one is a light red double amaryllis.  Flamenco Queen is a single with a very interesting color.   The Red Pearl Amaryllis is a very deep red - as close to black as you can get in amaryllis.  These were grown in containers and didn't get them in the raised beds yet.  Will probably wait until their done blooming.  I am afraid the bulbs won't grow any more if they are all squeezed in a container.

Amaryllis blooming - Peach Blossom Mini Amaryllis

I was happy to see a lot of my amaryllis are starting to bloom.   This variety is peach blossom mini amaryllis.  The blossoms are small and more trumpet shaped than the standard amaryllis.  Its a nice soft light peach color.

Gladiolus Bed - Lots of growth

Looks like a majority of my Glad bulbs in one of my bed are all up.   I planted 450 bulbs in a 4x8' foot bed and most of them are already up with a few poking through the soil.   The longer and warmer days will speed up the growth.

Trays of Seedlings

I have quite a few of seedlings started.   Most are tomatoes.   The older ones are starting their second leaves and will be ready to transplant soon.  I usually wait until the 3rd set of leaves is started.   I will transplant them to peat pot.  I prefer peat pots because it reduces the transplant shock when they are planted in the ground and minimizes the use of plastic which ends up in the trash.  They are outside in the full sun which will make for a much stronger plant.   Luckily I am in southern california where it will be 80 degrees today so if you in colder part of the country, you will need to start them indoors in a sunny window.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

My Magic Green amaryllis are starting to bloom.  I have never grown this variety so looking forward to see what it looks like.  Here is a picture  of the bloom before it opens.  Its quite intriguing.   The following pictures are what is supposed to look like according to my supplier.  I will take some pictures of them in full bloom.

Starting Petunias - Blue and Strawberry Daddy variety.

I planted a tray of petunias today.   It was 88 today and I have the planting bug!  I planted half the tray with blue daddy and the other half with strawberry daddy.  I purchased pelleted seed which is easier to handle than the very tiny petunia seeds.   A breeze will blow all of your petunia seeds away before you know it.   I planted one or two pellet in each spot.  They will sprout in 5-10 days.    The daddy series are a upright petunia with darker veins which make a pretty blossom.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Gladiolus Sprouting

My glads are sprouting.  I was please to see a bunch of green shoots which are the unmistakable signs of gladiolus bulbs sprouting.   The were planted a couple weeks ago and with the longer days and warmer weather we are having here in Southern California, they should be blooming in no time.    Now - what do I do with 500 gladiolus blooms.

Neon Rose Amaryllis Blooming

Some more of my amaryllis are blooming.  This variety is a miniature variety called Neon Rose.  Its a very bright pink color - unusual for amaryllis.  Most pinks are lighter pink such as the well known apple blossom amaryllis.   The one in the background is called Exotica which is also a very unusual color.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Planting Portulaca or Moss Roses Seeds!

I planted some portulaca or moss roses as they are commonly know seeds today.   I planted Tequila Mix which is a mix of bright colors.      I planted multi-seed pellets which is a clay pellet that contain 2-4 seeds.  The seeds are so very small - this is a much easier way to plant them.

I chose 288 cell plug trays - which are much smaller cells - which work perfectly for small seedlings such as petunias and portulaca.   When you plant multi-seed pellets - only plant one per cell or you will have to thin out a lot of plants which is a waste of money - and time.  

When you are finished placing a pellet in each cell,  cover lightly with vermiculite or planting mix - making sure its a fine layer.  The pellet all provides some covering for the seed, so keep this in mind so you don't cover them too much and they won't sprout.  After that, I place plastic dome on top to keep the soil moist and place under the grow lights on top of a heated mat.   They need light to sprout.

Tomato Seedlings coming up!

My first batch of tomato seedlings are coming up.  This is 5 days after I planted them.  Will keep them under the grow light for another day - keep the soil warm for the rest of the seeds to come up in the tray before I place outside in the full sun.   I don't want the seedling to get used to grow lights and would rather they grow under the full sun outside so I don't have to harden them off.  This variety is Mr. Stripey.  Its an old heirloom variety.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Seed Starting Time

It was 85 today - time to get started on planting all my flower seeds and vegetable seeds.    I start a lot of seeds and have an annual plant sale where I sell started flower and vegetable plants to the neighbors.   I missed last year and had people stopping by to see if I was selling plants, so I figured I can't skip another year.
I have been doing this for some time.   I used to buy peat pots and start the seeds in them.   That gets rather expensive because the peat pots are 20-30 cents a piece and to fill it full of soil - is another dime.   Some of the seeds wouldn't sprout and you CANNOT reuse soil to start seeds so I would have to throw the empty ones in my garden.    There is a better way - and its how commercial growers do it.  When you see the six packs - at your home improvement store, you wonder how they got all six seeds to sprout and there weren't ever any empty cells.    Most plants are started in plug trays.   They are a tray with small pots for starting seedling,  The come in 72 cells, 128, 218, or 512 plugs for really small plants and seeds.
Here are some pics of my plug trays.  These are 128 cells which i am preparing for tomato seeds.

Next - get some seed starting mix.   Jiffy makes a very good brand of starting mix, but Ferry Morse also makes a seed starting mix also.    DO NOT use soil from your garden - it will usually contain a fungus that will cause damping off which will cause your seedlings to topple over after they sprouted and die.    I make the soil very wet - and fill the cells with the wet soil.  Press the soil into each sell and fill completely.  Air pockets will damage the roots and stunt the plant.      Here are my trays filled with soil.  

Now place one or two seeds in every cell.  If you expect the seeds to have good germination - plant one per cell.   You won't be wasting that much soil if it doesn't grow in that cell.    If two do come up - thin one out after your sure the other one is big enough to survive.     After you have placed seeds in every cell,  cover with more seed starting mix as thick as recommended per variety.    Here's a picture of a tray with tomato seeds place in each cell before I cover them up.   I place a plastic greenhouse type lid to keep the soil moist.

I use grow lights with heated mats under the trays which warms the soil and will speed up germination.   You don't need grow lights or heat mats, if you have a window in a warm part of the house in a sunny window.   If your in a colder climate, the more sun you can provide the better.   Here in wonderful sunny southern California, as soon as a majority of the seeds are sprouting, I place my trays outside in the sun so they get used to the outside sun right away.   If you started yours in a house, you cannot place them in the full sun right away.  They will burn and die.  You have to give them a hour at first and increase outside exposure over a couple weeks to get them used to full sun.     
Once they are bigger, then you pop the plug out -and plant in a larger pot or six pack that we are all familiar with from nurseries or home improvement stores.  You could plant them directly in your garden , but they are still small and a family of snails could wipe out all your baby plants in one night, so I prefer to grow mine out in a large pot before placing in the cruel cold world.  
Here's a picture of plug that is ready to plant in a larger pot.  I will take pictures of mine as they grow.

Amaryllis Blooming

I have a couple of my varieties of Amaryllis blooming.  The red one is a mini-Amaryllis - called Fanfare.  Its a double bloom and the blooms are smaller than regular amaryllis -hence - mini amaryllis.    The other one is Exotica.  Its a very unusual color for amaryllis - light pink or salmon.  There will be quite a few blooming over the next month and I will take more pictures as they bloom.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Signs of Life - Gladiolus

I can't seem to resist digging up bulbs that I planted to see if they are starting to grow, dead, or rotting, or worse yet - eaten by a critter.   I dug up a couple of glad bulbs and spotted some roots growing from the bottom of them -  Yaayyy!   Can't wait for them to start sprouting.

Ranunculus are sprouting!

Ranunculus or buttercups are they are commonly called are easy to grow - with some care  Mine are starting to sprout.  They like well drained soil as it they sit in soil that is too damp, they will rot after blooming or before blooming.   Plant 2 inches deep with little feet pointing down and about 3-4 inches apart.   The are prolific bloomers and will also last up to 7 days as a cut flower.   Cutting them will encourage more blooms.  You will be amazed at the number of blooms will come from one bulb.     If you are ever near San Diego, visit the flower field off the 5 Interstate in Carlsbad.  Its rolling hills of different colors flowers.  They are Ranunculus flowers.   Below is a picture of mine sprouting and some pictures of the flowers and the Carlsbad Flower Fields.

Bearded Iris Sprouting

When you receive German Bearded Iris rhizomes - from a supplier - they are sometimes dormant - which most people would say - Look's dead.   They aren't dead - just dormant - as long as the rhizome is firm - its probably still alive - and will grow once planted properly.    I notices some of mine are starting to sprout new growth from the rhizomes I planted.     I may not see blooms the first year - but that's ok - I am interested in a the rhizomes growing so I can sell some on Ebay and Amazon.

A bed of Dutch Iris

The dutch iris I planted a couple weeks ago are all sprouting -  It looks like a lot of them will come.  Will give a nice floral display.  They are easy to grow - and are favorites for people who like to grow cut flowers. They do well in areas where it stays above freezing in the wintertime, but will also go dormant in the cold areas and bloom in the late spring.  Plant them 3-4 inches deep - with pointed end up - and 3-4 inches apart from each other.   They will reproduce and grow baby bulbs beside the mother bulb.  You may need to dig up every so often to separate them.   They will grow the flowers on a long step that you can cut just as it's starting to open and will bloom nicely in a vase.   There is a nice variety of colors available with purple, white, or yellow being the most common.   Like most bulbs - they will like well drained soil with some bone meal and compost added.   I have added some pictures showing the typical colors and the blossom form with standards and falls along with my bed or irises sprouting.   The bulbs I purchased are mixed colors.

Hyacinths - Jan Bos

The first I planted was some hyacinth bulbs - Jan Bos.  I am not sure how to propagate them, but got them because they were on clearance from a supplier.    They generally don't do that well in Southern California, because it doesn't get cold enough in the winter, but I though't I'd give them a try.  They are blooming as they come out of the ground which is not what I expected.