Garden Log 5/21/22

Let me start with an note for locals that I’ll have a booth at What’s Blooming on Harrison today; I plan to be there from 11 – 4, spot #69, and I’d be happy to see gardeners from the group stop by and say hi! No need to buy anything, and feel free to bring your garden questions. It can be boring at a booth if traffic is slow! If you have photos of your yard that you want me to consult on, for example, I’d be very happy to do that. Maybe our garden club should have a booth next year — it’d be fun to do garden design consultations, give away seedlings, etc….)

So, speaking of seedlings, mine have been a bit hit-or-miss this year; I didn’t get nearly as many started as I ambitiously thought I would (April is really busy at work, so all the ones that are supposed to be started 3-8 weeks before last frost are a bit of a challenge). Some of those can be direct-sown now, but I have a lot of seeds that will have to just be saved for next year, and PLEASE, if any friends see me starting to order seeds in January of 2023, tell me to stop. I have PLENTY.

And I was also slow on transplanting many of my seedlings into starter pots, so my tomatoes are tiny and spindly, and a fair number of the other plants ditto, I’m not sure it’s actually worth planting them out, but I suppose I’ll try and see how they do.

Really, for the amount of labor seeds are, they really don’t make so much sense for me — if I were comparing to my typical pay-by-the-hour for my day job, I’d definitely be losing money on growing plants from seeds.

But we don’t do this just to save money, of course — it’s also fun, and interesting, and satisfying to grow things entirely from seed, and it lets you grow varieties that aren’t easily available in garden stores. I transplanted my “Blue Berries,” “Juliet Grape,” “Violet Jasper,” and “Sunrise Bumblebee” cherry tomatoes yesterday, and even if they *do* look spindly, I’m hoping they manage to grow and thrive. I know I love both the look and taste of “Blue Berries” and I’m very hopeful for the other three.

(Question for the vegetable gardeners — I have a small plastic greenhouse that I haven’t set up yet for the year. Is it worth trying to move the baby tomatoes into there for a few weeks or a month, so they can maybe benefit from the extra heat, or should I put them directly in the ground instead? Same for my peppers, which I started earlier, and which do look healthy, if not huge.)

In any case, the petunias, a simple balcony mix in whites, pinks and purple-blues, seem to have done pretty well. And if you do have more time than money, $5 for a seed packet got me 9 healthy plants, which might’ve been $3-4 each in the store?

None of them are blooming quite yet, but they look like pretty nice healthy plants. Go, plant babies, go! It’s been hot enough the last few days that even with surprisingly regular watering (yay, me!), my ranunculus have mostly given up the ghost, so I’ve pulled them and replaced them with these petunias in the window boxes.

With luck, the petunias will be cascading down within a month, adding some lovely trailing color to the boxes — they love sun (preferring full sun, though they’ll tolerate partial, blooming a bit less), and are quite happy in our summer heat, if they get enough water.

If you don’t like the big blooms of petunias (I used to think they were boring, but I’ve grown to like them as a sturdy filler that isn’t as fussy and delicate as some of my other plants), a great alternative is calibrachoa (‘million bells’), which offers the same flower shape and habit in a much daintier form. Hm, I should try growing some calibrachoa seeds next year…

…that’s where you were supposed to stop me, friends. Right there. I have ENOUGH seeds for next year already.

Oh, and one last gardening note before I go — I picked my first strawberry and ate it yesterday. That one was weirdly early, baking in the full sun of my parkway strip, most of them are going to need a few more weeks, I think. But they’re coming, and the one I ate yesterday was DELICIOUS.

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