Archive for January, 2008

Office Plants Update 01-19-08

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I thought it would be fun to provide an overview of all the plants I have at work. At my work, we have L-shaped cubicles with a light source on one end of the cubicle. The size of the light is probably around 3 feet in length and it illuminates that whole side. I use that side for housing my plants and since I have two desks that are adjacent to one another so I have two lights to play with. I take most of my houseplants from my apartment to my office during the winter and take them back in spring when all my seedlings are outside and growing. I just don’t have enough space on my grow shelves to accomodate all my plants that need light so fortunately, I have lights at work. It’s an extension of my grow shelves.
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Currently, I have 4 coleuses, 5 spider plants, 3 hydrangea cuttings, a Christmas cactus, 3 african violets, 1 Hawaiian Scheflerra, and finally 1 pothos. The coleus, african violets, hydrangeas, and Christmas cactus will come home with me in a couple of months but the rest permanently stay at work. The Hawaiian Schefflera and pothos are doing super well at work. The pothos was having some issues in the beginning like turning yellow and dropping leaves but it has adjusted well. I am currently rooting some pothos in soil so I can have a plant at home. I am also growing some pothos in a jar of water. It’s doing well and has already produced 6-8 leaves!

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I’m excited to see what color blooms will produce from my discounted Christmas cactus. I probably won’t know for a couple of months but it’ll be fun to know. I got another Christmas cactus at Walmart the other day. It was discounted 50% off to $3.44. It has pretty pink blooms. I currently have a red, white, and pink Christmas cactus. I hope this new one will be a pretty white one. Here’s hoping.

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Garden Update 01-17-08

My celery seeds have finally sprouted. Most people said it was really hard for celery to germinate but I didn’t have any problems with it germinating. It took awhile, say around 12 days. Out of all the seeds I planted, I would say I had an 80% success rate with the seeds. I plan on pre-germinating eggplant-black beauty, various pepper seeds (Korean Hot, Hungarian yellow Wax, Jalapeno, California Wonder, Kung Pao and Long thin cayenne peppers), and more Swiss chard seeds since these are last years seeds I’d bet my best bet with pre-germinating since there’s a chance they might not germinate.

The way I pre-germinate my seeds is called the wet paper towel method. It’s as simple as that. All you need is a paper towel and a baggie.

Step 1: Get a paper towel and dampen it
Step 2: Lay seeds in one even layer on half the towel
Step 3: Cover the seeds with the other half of the towel to make a “seed package”
Step 4: Put the package into the baggie and close shut
Step 5: Place the baggie on something warm like the top of your fridge and check every couple of days until you see some growth. The seeds with growth are the good seeds and the seeds with no growth are the bad ones and should be thrown away. Plant the good seeds and presto-magic; you have germinated seeds, no more having empty cells in your trays to seeds that didn’t germinate!

Coleus from seed (approximately 79 days) (click on image for larger picture)
I just wanted to provide an update on the coleus I grew from seed. The seedlings are thriving into lush little plantlets. I love that they have different colors and that I don’t have to spend outrageous amounts of money for plants when I can just grow them from seed. I bought a packet of seeds from grocoseeds.com for 1,400 seeds for only $1.99 and I already have 20+ plants. I would typically spend around $3.00 for a six pack of coleus and I spent a fraction of that price if not less. If you did the math, I spent less than a penny for each seedling minus the cost of potting soil. I hope by the time spring comes around, I’ll be able to put them out in pots and as companion plants.

African Violet (click on image for larger picture)

I also wanted to show my African violets. They’ve been neglected since I’ve been busy with seeds and seedlings. They are doing well. I have one I bought last year in May that blooms a pretty white and purple flower. It just started blooming recently and it’s so pretty. It looks like a little pixie fairy came by and sprinkled it with glitter.

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Garden Update 01-12-08

Seedlings (click on image for larger picture)

The seeds I planted earlier this week which include three types of lettuces (bibb, iceberg, black seeded simpson), bok choi, swiss chard, brussel sprouts (de cicco variety), radish with have all sprouted with the exception of the celery (tall variety).

Impatien Seedlings (click on image for larger picture)

My impatien seedlings are doing well and growing tall. In a couple of weeks, I’ll put them in a big pot so they can bloom for me. Impatiens are said to be great houseplants.

The other day when I was out running errands, I went to Lowes to get another storage bin and could not resist the temptation to go out to the garden center. I was surprised to what I saw there. It was wonderful, they had all their seed starting equipment (i.e. seed trays, soil, peat pellets, pots, and seeds) aligned neatly in the middle of the aisle. I then went outside to the actual garden area and there were so many blooming things which include primulas, geraniums, violas, cyclamens, and more. I happened across an aisle that had these shelves with all these distressed plants lined up and I could not resist taking a look. There was a sign on the shelf that said everything on the shelf was 75% off. I immediately got excited and found a Christmas cactus for a $1.00waiting to be picked up and given some tlc(the Lowes employees neglect these poor things). My new Christmas Cactus, which I call Fred, is sitting prettily on my desk at work under a fluorescent light that is on most of the day. I don’t know what color the blooms are but maybe I can get him to bloom by spring and see! I bought his sister Christmas Cactus a couple of months ago at Walmart for a couple of bucks and she’s a beauty. She blooms these glittery white flowers.

I then went to Walgreens to pick up some toiletry items and found in their ad that they were having a sale on their seeds 10 for $1.00 with coupon. These were the American Seed company variety which are cheap anyway but this was a deal I could not resist. The coupon limited a person to only 10 seeds. However, I have a contact at Walgreens who happens to be the manager and he allowed me to buy $5.00 worth of seeds. I have a variety of basil (sweet), sweet corn, California wonder bell peppers, daisies, sunflowers, zucchini, cucumber, morning glories, eggplant, squash, and more! If you’re too late for this sale, they typically sell their seeds for only $.20. I would personally wait until they come out with another coupon for 10 for $1.00 seed.

I then went to Walmart and they too had a selection of racks of seeds from the Walmart brand and Burpee. There are some on the burpee rack I’m interested in (specifically the supersweet 100s that I tried last year and it produced tons of tomatoes). There were some herbs I was eyeing too like (thyme, lime basil, and fennel). I’m just so excited to see all the garden things out so soon. I couldn’t wait til all the Christmas decor was moved out of the garden center and replaced with what is supposed to be there: gardening accoutrements. Walmart also had some 50% off sales on some of their houseplants. My husband pulled me away before I got a chance to pick one up but as I was being tugged away I saw that most of their pothos were on sale for $2.22, which originally went for $4.44. I might just have to take a little trip to Wally world in the near future! hehe. Well, that’s all for now. Check back next week for more gardening updates!

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Garden Update 12-31-07

Broccoli De Cicco Seedling (6 days)
I started some broccoli de Cicco, Cabbage Early Golden Acre, and Italian Parsley seeds today. The broccoli seed is from my own crop. The funny story about this one is that I started it last fall and it survived to the spring. In the spring, it began becoming leggy and it flowered. I kept it for awhile I neglected it. My husband saw this and decided to become its savior and put it in the ground. The broccoli survived and bloomed beautifully. I let it stay where it was, although, I needed the spot for a pepper plant. It grew and grew then I saw some seed pods so I let them dry. I collected it and this is the story of my first collected vegetable seed! If it weren’t for my husband, I wouldn’t have had the great experience of getting my first collected veggie seed. I pre-germinated some of the seeds and it worked.

The cabbage is called early golden acres I bought from American Seeds and the Italian parsley was from a trade (my first box trade). Parsley takes a while to germinate so I hope it works and maybe I’ll be able to collect seeds in the spring for my own future crops. I wasn’t planning on growing cabbage but I was inspired by this video I found on you tube where a gardener grew these big heads of cabbage. The video is from a you tube user called, beutifullady . This is one of her many videos which she calls: how does your garden grow. My plan is to grow 4 cabbages, 4 broccolis, and two containers full of Italian parsley. I recycled these ice cream cups from the grocery store. They’re the ice cream that has orange sherbert and vanilla ice cream mixed together. I used a hot nail to punch holes in the bottom. I recommend doing this in a well-ventilated area to prevent the horrible fumes.

Yesterday, I made a list of seeds I want to try next year. It’s pretty hefty but I can’t help try new seeds! I think I have 8-10 tomato varieties I want to try. Eek. I’ll have plenty of leftovers to give to my friends and family. I’m excited about the New Year and its many gardening adventures.

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Garden Update January 05-06, 2008

Seed Starting (Early Spring Vegetables)(click image for larger view)

Seating Chart for the Seeds (click image for larger view)

Yesterday, I planted three varieties of lettuce: bib, black seeded simpson, and another variety I can’t recall indoors. I think they’ll be ready to set out in a couple of weeks. I want to try lettuce for the early spring months. I’m going to try container planting in my self-watering containers. I bought three self-watering containers last year for my tomatoes and zucchini and since I won’t be able to plant those until the spring, I thought I could use them for lettuce and radishes. Another advantage of using containers is the ability to move the containers into and out of the sun.

On Saturday, I decided to start some cool weather vegetable seeds for early spring. I planted them in my new Planter’s Pride 72-cell starting trays. I plan on growing the following:

  • 8-Lettuce (Bibb)
  • 8-Lettuce (Iceberg)
  • 8-Lettuce (Black Seeded Simpson)
  • 12-Bok Choi
  • 8-Swiss Chard
  • 4-Brussel Sprouts (Catskill)
  • 16-Radish (Cherry Belle)
  • 6-Celery (Utah Tall)

I’ll be able to collect enough from this batch for daily salads in the spring and early spring. All I need is to buy store bought cucumbers and ranch dressing to finish off my salads!

The broccoli I started from seed on Monday sprouted on Wednesday. I was surprised at how fast they sprouted. My cabbage seeds sprouted yesterday and now they are with the broccoli seedlings nestled underneath my growlights. I’m still waiting on my parsley to sprout. I have them sitting on top of our fridge for warmth. From my past experience with parsley, it takes them awhile to germinate. Here’s hoping.

Yesterday, I cleaned up my grow shelves for the upcoming adventures of starting my veggie and flower seeds for the spring. I have 2 new seed starting trays I got from my local OSH for $5.00 which include a tray, 72 compartment tray, and a humidity dome. One is for veggies and the other is for flowers. In addition to that, I also have a ton of peat pellets I’m going to use for my summer veggies (tomatoes, eggplant, pepper, cucumbers, and squash).

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Garden Score

My Loot

Today, I went to Lowes for the sole purpose to get some storage boxes for our Christmas decorations but my plant addiction got us some discounted forced bulb kits as well as the storage boxes. They were discounted 75% from $6.97 to $1.74! So, I got 4 hyacinth bulb kits and 2 crocus bulb kits. The crocus bulb vases are so tiny and adorable. I always have tons of crocus bulbs leftover from spring so I can reuse these vases. They’re also great for forcing small bulbs too. I have grown crocuses crocuses this last spring and they’re the most delicate, cute little flowers that bloom in early spring.

The hyacinth vases are just as cute. Since I bought 4 hyacinth kits, I’m going to force two of them and plant the other two outside in a pot. That way I’ll have blooms in my garden in the spring. I’ve been wanting some bulb vases for awhile and I’m so glad I found some. I’ve been looking everywhere for these including thrift stores, antique stores, etc. and now I have some! Yippee.

It’s pretty simple to do. All you need to do is fill the vases with water enough for the bottom of the bulbs to touch the water. Maintain this level of water and keep in a place that gets indirect sun. In 4-6 weeks, you’ll have blooms. I’ll keep everyone updated on the progress. A warning about forcing bulbs is that once the bulbs are forced, they are less likely to bloom again but bulbs come cheap today. They’re only around $.50 a bulb.

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