Worms and Flowers

Winter Sowing

Posted in Seeds by Lzyjo on December 31, 2008

The winter solstice has passed and the days are becoming longer. It is the perfect time to winter sow seeds for next year’s garden. The balmy air and 70 degree weather are signaling to the seeds that spring will be here soon.

I first discovered winter sowing last year when I wanted to get a good head start on lettuce and greens for the spring.  In the past, I’ve had a lot of trouble with baby lettuces frying in the extreme heat, or failing to germinate in the hot baked-clay soil.

The results of my winter sowing spoke for themselves. In one 3″x”3 container I was able to grow more lettuces than I had in an entire year of direct sowing. The seedlings were vigorous, never leggy, and they were perfectly timed to mature before the summer heat.

Cool season crops like lettuce, spinach, Alliums, and Brassicas are not the only ones that benefit from winter sowing, even heat loving vegetables like tomatoes and peppers, squash, and melons are good candidates for winter sowing.

I first read about winter sowing on the  GardenWeb Winter Sowing forum. In the Spring it’s like a party on there with hundreds of users excitedly reporting their germination results. Most of the information found in the FAQ section is compiled by Trudi Davidoff, who also operates WinterSown.org, a great not-for profit website with tons of winter sowing information. They also seed send-out free seeds!

WinterSown also includes germination results for every zone, so you can get an idea of what does and doesn’t work.  So far, the only thing I’ve seen that doesn’t work are morning glory seeds, which is sort of surprising since they are usually known for tenacious reseeding.

Winter sowing can be extremely exciting and rewarding. Like any gardener, I get itching to plant seeds in the dead of winter and this is a great way to do that while also getting a jump on the planting. It’s also exciting to see tiny green sprouts emerging from the winter, even under sown-covered containers. Check out Trudi’s website for tons of inspiring photos and plant some seeds!

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New Year, New Seeds

Posted in Garden, Seeds by Lzyjo on December 27, 2008

My favorite part about winter is buying new seeds for next year’s garden. Here are a few of the seeds I bought that are totally new to the line-up.
Kentucky Limestone Lettuce, The Original Bibb Lettuce developed by Jack Bibb in the 1800s. Hopefully it will love our Tennessee limestone soil just as well.

Yellow Of Parma Onion. Onions are totally new for me, but they are a very important part of the vegetable pantry. Hopefully, starting this early in the year will yield a good harvest.

Stowell’s Evergreen Corn. Is a late season white sweet corn, developed by Nathan Stowell of New Jersey in the 1800s.

Golden Bantam Improved, a yellow kernel corn. By planting two variates of corn, one early and one late, I should be able to extend the harvests, as well as, saves seeds for the two separate varieties.

Ace Pickling Cucumber. I hope it’s not too ambitious to try to make my own cucumbers…our landlady does.

German Rhubarb. I love rhubarb, but it grow best in the North, from what I read it is possible to grow and harvest rhubarb in the South, as an annual, although it grows smaller stalks.

Oregano Greek, according to Grecian blogger CityGarden, Greek Oregano, Oregano Vulgare Hirtum is the real thing, more potent and intense than standard Vugare forms.

Blue Podded Blauwschokkers, Blue Podded shelling peas, aka, Capucijner Peas, named after the Catholic/Franciscan Capuchin Monks who developed this variety. The peas are vigorous, growing up to six feet on a trellis.

Charentais Melon. Need I say more?

Grandma Einck’s Dill. For the pickles! This is one of the original seeds that began the Seed Savers Exchange, it was brought over from Bavaria by one of the founder’s Grandmother. It is a dual-purpose dill, used for its leaves and seeds.

Amish Paste Tomato. After numerous disappointments with hybrids and beefsteaks, I’m resorting to this revered all-purpose sauce tomato, with lots of meat.

German Chamomile, Sages, Snap dragons, and Scarlet Clove Pinks, another name for Carnations.

Cupani’s Original Sweet Pea. The sweet pea is purported to be the Original sweet pea sent into England in the 17Th Century by an Italian monk. Sweet peas are also supposed to be rabbit resistant, which is a huge plus for me and anyone also who has a rabbit problem.

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Dragon Fruit

Posted in Tropicals by Lzyjo on December 27, 2008

Dragon fruit is most commonly used as the triangular green base on grafted cacti with colorful red or pink balls. Dragon fruit, aka, Pitaya, or Strawberry pear is a climbing cactus native to the tropical and subtropical forests of Central and South America. Due to the pervasive semiepiphytic habit, dragon fruit is commercially cultivated on topped palm trucks. I purchased seeds for three varieties (yellow, white, and red) from TradeWindsFruit a while ago. So far. only the red type have germinated. When a first planted the seeds I noticed some seedlings, that curiously resembled tomatoes (?!) it wasn’t until they were about a week old that I sheepishly realized, “if it looks like tomato, smells like tomato, and was planted in recycled soil, it is tomato.” Here are my six month old red dragon fruit seedlings. I’m assume it is normal, but both of the plants have been putting out both three and four-sided growth.

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It is unclear which genus the yellow pitaya, Selenicereus Megalanthus, belongs to. Dave’s Garden PlantFiles uses the genus Selenicereus, while Wikipedia cites the name as, Hylocereus Megalanthus, both use the species name Megalanthus, meaning large flowered. Selenicereus translates waxy moon, possibly referring to nine inch (23cm) diameter flowers that open at night. All dragon fruit bloom at night, similar to Cereus the night blooming cactus, which is why dragon fruit is sometimes referred to as Cereus Undatus. Personally, I think Waxy moon makes more sense than Hylocerceus, which means waxy wood.

I have never attempted to grow dragon fruit from the grafted cactus, but I have read it readily grows from the rootstock if the red ball is removed.

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An Excuse for Absence

Posted in Quilting by Lzyjo on December 27, 2008

Thank you all for your continued patronage during my absence. I know it isn’t polite to show up without an excuse, so I brought one. My first quilt is finally done!! YAY!! I’m beyond ecstatic!
It’s the quilt sandwich. Just a little big. 😀 I had to clear out the biggest room in the house and even then there was not enough room to walk all the way around it. It took approximately six to eight hours to baste the quilt. Good thing I bought a leather thimble!

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As I mentioned before, I used my Kenmore Mini Ultra Sewing Machine, as the name implies, it is smaller than a regular machine, about three-quarters the size of a standard machine. As soon as I stuffed the quilt under the harp of the sewing machine, it became painfully obvious that my machine was not intended to quilt a full sized quilt, but I managed to do it anyway, at the expense of my hands and wrists, which were extremely painful at the end of a days quilting.

I only hand sewed the binding on the two short sides, before giving in the convenience of the sewing machine. It took over an hour for me to invisible stitch 90″ of binding, so after two hours, I finished the last sides on the sewing machine is under ten minutes.

invisible stitch

I’m right proud of myself. The only sewing experience I had was sewing in Middle School, so I’m hardly experienced, yet I managed to finish a quilt that is properly sized and square! It was really hard to believe that it was finally done after so many long hard hours of work. It is finally sinking in, after sleeping under it for a few days.

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