Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Seed Starting 2012

On this, the first official day of Spring (although you wouldn't know it with 4' feet of snow currently on the ground,) I've decided to share my list of what plants I have started under my grow lights, and what I will be starting soon. I'm a few weeks behind this year, but I figured that it will work out well since I'm guessing it will be months before we can see actual dirt again.

Currently growing:

1. Tomato 'Red Robin' - I'm growing this guy solely as a houseplant, with no intention of putting him outside. It's a very dwarf variety of tomato, only getting 8-12" high, and can grow just fine in a 6" pot. It's a perfect fit on my grow light shelf, and the tomatoes, although small, are the best tasting little suckers ever. So sweet they're practically candy.

'Red Robin' seeds available at totallytomato.com. I have no pictures of ripe tomatoes because I ate them all. 

2. Assorted herbs - basil, parsley, cilantro, thyme, green onions, and oregano. I start all my herbs much earlier than necessary so that I can use them for a while during the winter before moving them outside. The basil, however, remains inside. I can't get it to do well in our cold Alaskan summers!

3. Leeks - these guys take a long time to mature, so I generally start them in January or February.

4. Celery - ditto.

5. Cobaea scandens, or Cup and Saucer Vine. I start these guys at my house for work, and move them to the greenhouse later. I should have started them in January, and didn't get them in until early March, but I think they'll still be big enough come actual spring that they'll bloom for us this summer.

Photo courtesy of Park Seed, which is also where I happened to order them.
6. Sweet pea 'Zinfandel' - a fragrant, deep burgundy sweet pea. This is my first year trying them, so we'll see how it goes.

7. Snapdragon 'Chantilly Deep Orange' - an open-faced variety, still my favorite. Snaps also take a long time to mature, so I generally start them in February, and pinch them back a couple times before they finally make it to the garden.

Snapdragon 'Chantilly Deep Orange'
Seeds I will be starting in the next two weeks:

1. Tomato 'Glacier' - forget 'Stupice.' This is my new favorite. Very tasty, and produces well in cool weather.

2. Petunias - I still haven't decided on a variety, but it will probably be the magenta wave type, as these tend to do really well for me.

3. Dahlia 'Aurora' - if I ever get around to calling the guy who sells the tubers locally, that is. I probably should have started these March 1st. Oh well!

Doesn't this just make you go "Oooooooo....."? Photo courtesy of The Persistent Farmer, which is where I plan on buying the tubers if I ever get around to it.

Anyone else have any seeds started? Trying anything new this year? Know the perfect time to start that perfect plant? Feel free to share!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Green Walls and Vertical Gardening...not just for the outdoors.

Just had to do a quick post to show off our latest project at work:

Bromeliads, prayers plants, pothos 'Neon,' and holly ferns. Photo courtesy of Green Connection.

Yup, it's a green wall full of house plants. Cool, eh? This system, made by ASI, works fairly well and is the most affordable and attractive set up we've found so far. And because the plants are still in their individual pots, it's a very flexible set up, easy to switch things around if you want a different look or if a particular plant isn't doing well. 

Maintenance is simple: each plant has a wick running from the bottom of the grow pot, which rests in the tray. Fill the trough with water and the soil slowly wicks it up as needed. Every once in a while we have to readjust one of the wicks, but so far things are doing nicely.

Here's another one I designed:

Peace lilies, liriope, philodendron 'Limelight,' and holly ferns. Photo courtesy of Green Connection.
Can you tell my tastes run in the "crazy wild plant explosion" direction? The client actually ended up not liking this one, and we replaced everything with all one type of plant. But who cares what they think, right? Silly boring corporate-minded office people. Give me exploding plants any day.

Anyhoo, while green walls were previously limited to corporate settings and those with large incomes, there are now models, like the one above, that are relatively affordable and making their way into residences. If you have good light in your home and really want to make a statement, living art could be the thing for you.