Sunday, February 18, 2018

Getting Your Winter Greens - Micro Greens!

I've got so much spring fever right now that I'm counting the minutes to the spring equinox on March 20. As of right now there are 43,200 minutes left. Too many minutes? Okay, we're just thirty short days away, in sight for sure.

In between seed shopping and attending green industry trade shows I've been seeding micro-greens for a green thumb fix. And if you're far from being a green thumb, no worries, you cannot and I mean, you cannot mess up seeding, growing and enjoying micro-greens.

First, the what-how-where -

Micro-greens are the first seedlings of plants that are normally seeded outside and harvested when fully grown like lettuce, broccoli, basil, sunflowers, peas or custom seed mixes of cress, chard, mustard and many more. You can purchase specific micro-green labeled seeds from garden centers and online or use left over seeds from your cache. One caution - parsnip seeds used for micro-greens are poisonous so use them only for outside seeding to grow parsnips until they mature.

The taste of these little guys is soooooooooo good and awesomely fresh. Use them on soup, pasta, sandwiches, eggs and any vegetable dish. Tossing them on your morning cereal might be a stretch, but not in the juicer!

Basil seeds from my cache
The how takes about ten minutes, maybe less. Clean and rinse a spent plastic lettuce container (or any low container), poke some holes in the bottom if there aren't any drainage areas. Fill 3/4s with moistened sterile seed starting or a very light weight potting soil. Heavily sprinkle micro-green seeds or left over seeds over the soil, then add a very light layer of soil over the seeds. Water them well using a sprinkler type head instead of heavy hosing with a regular pour type nozzle which can move the seeds and soil around too much. 

Where - put a tray under the plastic container and place near a very sunny window or under grow lights. Water when they look slightly dry, about every other day - they can dry out quickly, keep any eye on them. In about seven to ten days you'll be harvesting fresh little micro-bursts of whatever seed you planted. To harvest, just cut a handful of greens right above the soil line, you don't even need to rinse them unless some soil is holding on.

If you love micro-greens, plan on seeding several batches and stagger them over the winter. Once harvested you can re-use the soil several times, unless gnats find them or disease is suspected. 

Second, the flavor - wow! 


Basil Micro-Greens over Vegetarian Red Pepper Quinoa Pasta!

For more growing how to photos click HERE.


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Remember Ferris on Valentine's Day and Don't Forget the Flowers!

According to Google, 58% of American men buy flowers for their special Valentine - just 16% of women, all to the tune of two billion on flowers alone! The number that surprises me more is the 20% of folks who spend millions (around 500 mil) on their pets at Valentine's Day. Perhaps Fido will finally get that memory foam dog bed he's been hankering for, or the ten pack of gift certificates for the fluff and shine dog wash studio. Ferris, our dog would be just fine with a belly rub or piece of cheese. 

1893 Ferris Wheel from Wikipedia
Speaking of Ferris, don't forget that February 14 is also National Ferris Wheel Day in honor of its inventor - George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. He was born on Valentine's Day in 1859 and is most remembered for inventing the original Ferris Wheel introduced at the 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition, most commonly called the Chicago World's Fair.

George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. had an interesting short life. Having a degree in civil engineering, and a career in the railroad industry, he embraced the challenge by the World's Fair director to create a piece of art or show piece to rival the Eiffel Tower. One story says he came up with the concept at a Chicago eatery while doodling on a napkin. The organizing committee was skeptical, but George wasn't deterred, went so far to recruit investors to the tune of $400,000 for the first Ferris Wheel. It turned out to be twenty-six stories tall, hold up to sixty people in forty revolving chairs for a twenty minute ride that cost fifty cents. Despite the success of the Ferris Wheel (it made over seven hundred fifty thousand in 1893, a lot for those days) he had to sue over who rightfully owned his invention. Bankruptcy from litigation led to his divorce and soon after that he died at age 37 from typhoid fever

The Ferris Wheel lives on and you'll be hard pressed not to find one at every major theme park or summer fair. The London Eye over the Thames River has been showing off London to tourists and Valentine's Day couples since 2000. The world's tallest at 550 feet, built in 2014 is the High Roller which sits on the Las Vegas strip. The thirty minute ride (which is just one full rotation) costs $25 during the day and $35 at night. George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. would be proud, so would his dad (Sr.) who, by the way was a fine horticulturist in Carson City, NV responsible for much of the city's landscaping and tree plantings back in 1870. That leads me back to flowers, this is a garden blog after all. 

How will you care for your fresh flower bouquet? Easily, just follow the steps below.

Care for homegrown (like these) or store purchased the same
  • Clean your favorite vase and then fill it half way with lukewarm water. Mix in half or the entire preservative bag that comes with the flowers. Or, combine one gallon of water with two tablespoons of vinegar and one tablespoon of sugar.
  • It's true, cut flowers last twice as long when using a preservative or homemade solution then being in plain water. These solutions also prevent bacteria growth.
  • Cut off all the leaves and foliage that will be under water. Also re-cut the stems under running water, taking an inch off the bottom. Use a knife instead of scissors (prevents crushing) and cut the stems at a forty five degree angle, which allows better uptake of the water.
  • Location is important for flower longevity. Place the arrangement in a cool spot away from direct sun, cold and direct heat. If you want closed buds on roses to open more quickly, put them in a warm room, but move them back to a cool space once they open.
  • Add more lukewarm water every day, and every fourth day change the water along with adding another preservative packet (or half) or the homemade solution.
  • If your roses are taking a nod or wilting, revive them by re-cutting the bottom stems under water and submerging the entire rose stem or stems in a bathtub or bucket of warm water. They should perk up in an hour.
 
Happy National Ferris Wheel Day🎡and Valentines Day💗!

AND...wishing a very happy 60th wedding anniversary to my father and mother-in-law on February 15 this year. Best wishes and congratulations!!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Ornamental Annuals Seeding Chart

For outdoor ornamental plants check out the chart below for what and when to seed. Peruse the seed racks at your favorite garden center for additional plants not shown on the chart, hopefully many of your favorites are listed.

Some seeds require well more than between 4 to 8 weeks to grow indoors before being transplanted outside in the spring. These include - angelonia, bee balm, carnation, dusty miller, heliotrope, licorice plant, lisianthus, lobelia, love-in-a-puff vine, ornamental pepper, painted tongue, pansy, petunia, rudbeckia, stock and verbena.

Time is flying by so get going!

As of today, there are just seven Mondays until the first day of spring - March 20, 2018. Nice!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Cool Season Vegetable and Herb Seeding

With the arrival of a little snow along the Front Range we can put away the outdoor hoses until the next warm spell and get to the matters at hand. Instead of dreaming and focusing on spring I thought for five seconds about cleaning out a basement closet. But when I walked in to the room my gumption went away in three seconds, maybe next week. The important matters are any indoor related garden activity which may include seed starting, keeping the houseplants happy, making a new terrarium or succulent dish or registering for an up coming class or seminar. Are you keeping your thumbs green?

Seed starting - 

Indoor seed starting in January is for plants that need a few more weeks to grow to transplant size that will go and grow outside in their best planting window. The list is short for vegetables that need 10-14 weeks - asparagus seeds (not crowns), artichoke, onions, leeks, celery and celeriac. For indoor seeding tips, click HERE.

The more common cool season vegetables including broccoli, Brussels' sprouts, and cauliflower can be transplanted outside starting in March through early May or so (weather and soil conditions permitting, or if using cold frames). These plants need anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks from seed to transplant size. Plus they'll need a week or so to harden off. They can be started indoors by seed in February or March. These plants can also be purchased as transplants in garden centers later in March and April. 

I'll post the ornamental annual seeding chart in the very next blog, some need 12-14 weeks as well.  

Chart below -
  • Days to emerge means the average range of when the seeds will sprout whether seeded indoors or outdoors. 
  • Some cool season vegetables prefer being directly seeded outside in soil and not started inside, like arugula and other fast growing leafy greens.
  • Some vegetables can be seeded indoors for transplanting later outdoors or directly seeded outside like kohlrabi and kale
  • Using May 15 as the average last spring frost date. 


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

NEW Plants for 2018

Some Junk - Mine
Do you ever wonder if other people get as much daily junk email as you do? When I refer to 'as much' that can be any number above one. I'd say on average I receive 30 junk emails a day. If they aren't deleted often, they seem to multiply. I have 667 unread junk emails right now. Last time I forced myself to delete them they were at 998, just shy of 1000 which is my enough is enough, make them stop number. 

The junk ranges in solicitation for down jackets, waterproof shoes, Tokyo Joe's and trips to Cancun. There are medical cure alls (thanks for the recent tmi article on bodily noises), my daily comic strip, the latest neighborhood coyote sighting and garden related tips usually disguised as "buy this." Sometimes the garden emails shed must read information on the latest plant and seed introductions. Below is what I have gleaned on some recent clicks. I can't vouch whether the plants will work in your garden, but they might.

Internet Photo ballfloraplant.com
Who doesn't like pink and yellow calibrachoa annuals? How about combining the two colors on one bloom?  Well here it is - the Can-Can® Bumble Bee Pink Calibrachoa. Mass planted in one container or hanging basket is a big wow, or combined with other complementary annuals is sure to be a conversation starter. It should be available in local garden centers this spring. From Ball Horticultural Company, click HERE

SNOWMASS® blue-eyed veronica
Evergreen groundcover plants rate as high in my book as self-cleaning roses. Technically introduced last year, SNOWMASS® blue-eyed veronica has it all. A lovely glossy mat forming perennial with cute blue-eyed white flowers from spring to early summer. Perfect for filling in dry areas between flagstones, patios and throughout the xeric garden where exposed mulch looks much less appealing than a year round evergreen groundcover. This plant will be available at independent garden centers, and mail order. A perfect new selection from the ever popular Plant Select® Program. To read more click HERE.

Internet Photo from Proven Winners
My respect for ninebark (Physocarpus) shrubs keeps increasing year after year. As of this writing I am growing five different varieties. They all share outstanding and beautiful leaf colors from spring to fall, from golden yellow to green to purple, orange and burgundy. 

Many have exfoliating bark which gets pleasantly noticed during the winter months. They bloom (attract pollinators), fruit and are little bothered (if at all) by pest insects, most of all Japanese beetle, my bane! The choices range in size from 3/4 feet to 9 feet tall, spread is 3/4 to 6'. Pruning is a cinch (when needed) and can be done during the winter or growing season. Winter pruning will net less flowers that spring. Use for hedging or as specimens - they are that nice. Proven Winners has introduced a new ninebark called Festivus Gold® a bright yellow to lime green leafed semi-dwarf shrub. I'm crossing my fingers it will be available this spring at independent garden centers. Click HERE to read more. 

Internet Photo from aas.org
The outdoor vegetable patch wouldn't be the same without several pepper plants. I'll admit that I'm a bit of a lightweight when it comes to hot peppers, but my husband always says to bring on the heat! The new All American Selections 'Mat Hatter' (technically new in '17, but that means it may not sell out as quickly in 2018) looks very tasty for both heat and sweet! The unique three-sided shape (think bishop's crown) is reason enough to give it a try. Add in vigor, high yields and sturdy, bushy plants and there's no saying no! Look for them locally and online.   

Wouldn't you know...the junk email has been piling up while writing this blog. It's delete time.