Saturday, April 30, 2011

Potting up long-taprooted seedlings

I spent this and last weekend potting up most of my seedlings. Some were more difficult than others.
For example, Pulsatilla and strawberry seedlings have extremely long and delicate taproots (in the picture, the roots are almost 4 inches long, while the above-ground portion of the prairie crocus less than 0.5 inches tall). Any side branches of the main taproot are pretty sparse. This makes transplanting them rather difficult. The long taproot tends to anchor the seedlings very solidly in the medium while the unit is in the cell, but once extracted, any medium crumbles away immediately. Damaging the roots or stem is easy if the extraction and repotting process isn’t done with care.
Next year, if I do sow these seeds, I’ll probably start them in-situ rather than in seedling packs.

Friday, April 29, 2011

I was weak

Impulse purchases from a flower stand next to the m├ętro:

With a very few exceptions (well, one, and it's the lemon thyme in the second pic), I promised myself to only grow from seed this year. What makes this worse is that I have already started my own semps from seed :P

Hopefully my from-seed semps are not green or red when they grow up.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

In bloom

Crocuses and scilla (?) are up at the neighbours'
Amidst the thickets in the park across the street, guerilla gardened TULIPS. How crazy is that?
Red gem marigold in the germination station couldn't wait to bloom
Violacea pallida from Vesey's described as brilliant white pointed petals with bright blue base ...
... Which is pretty much the opposite of what I got. Boo Veseys!

They were supposed to look like this.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Flowering Haworthia limifolia

I first noticed my Haworthia limifolia sending up a flower stalk back in mid-March and it has since grown into a silly-looking, wobbly antenna that's about two feet tall.

The stalk is topped with a tightly-bunched series of flower buds. Over the last couple of weeks, the buds at the bottom of the bunch have started to fall away, bloom, and finally fade as the stalk continues to grow taller.

Apparently, the attenuta species of Haworthia can yield a high-flying pup if you clip the flower stalk above the first set of faded flowers. Wonder if it will work for my limifolia...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Belated April Bloom Day

Red gem marigold is budding early in its seedling cellpak

Haworthia limifolia flower

Thursday, April 14, 2011

More purple peacock broccoli

Such a cool little seedling! I got the seeds as part of Tree & Twig Heirloom Vegetable Farm's seed giveaway in November.

Cotyledon closeup

Peacock tail

A little damping off problem

Keeping the germination station just moist enough to avoid fungal growth is real tricky. I bottom water all of them, but some cells seem to get damper or dry out faster than others. There's no real pattern. Because of this, damping off inevitably has hit a handful of the cells.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Signs of life on the balcony

Freddy's chives are thriving

The first of the spring bulbs emerge. I think this is Violacea pallida.

Wintersown bok choy, red orach, Bloomsdale Longstanding spinach seedlings

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Life unfolds

I love how these wild chive seedlings unfold like little paperclips as they emerge.

Friday, April 1, 2011

I'm from Buenos Aires and I Say KILL 'EM ALL!

There's still snow on the ground and my seedlings and young plants have been beset by a nefarious plague.

Remember the good old days when chez Dirt Gently's was a sea of green and the only worry was a spot of unsightly fluffy white fungus? Oh, how good it was to be blissfully innocent!

It seems that the plants in the propagation and germination station have been overrun with leafhoppers turning the propagation and germination station into a miniature version of Klendathu. Sadly, my foes weren't even the cool-looking multi-coloured ones (leafhoppers, that is, not arachnids). Instead, these guys:

Know your foe: Leafhopper
The little buggers laid waste to the jalapeno peppers, bacopa, cape daisies, moonflowers and bok choi. Thankfully, the datura and spinach have been spared; while I've found a few bugs on these young plants, they have mostly been undamaged.

The field of battle

The adult and young bugs suck the juice from the undersides of leaves, leaving behind a payload of toxic saliva that causes leaf burn, "windowpanes" in the leaves where they feasted and, in young shoots, causes leaf distortion.

Broken windowpanes

A little crooked
Leafhoppers especially like to hang out along thick veins on the underside of leaves, on the apical meristem where they'll royally mess up your new growth, in the crotches between the main stem and petioles on my bok choi, and at and just below the crown. Basically, if it's a hard to get at area, leafhoppers live there.

Is a live and let live policy preferable to war with the bugs? Maybe, if I could rely on predator insects to knock these little bastards off. But it's much too cold for the bugs that like to eat 'em to be very active.

I applied neem oil to the tops and bottoms of the leaves as thoroughly as I could, and spent considerable time daily manually squashing the bugs, but my efforts appeared to be futile. As a last resort, I drenched with insecticidal soap. This burned the plants and left holes in the leaves where there once were "windowpanes."

I've quarantined these plants again, leaving the germination station rather bare. I'm debating destroying the affected plants as I can't seem to get rid of the bugs, and two flats of newly germinated seedlings to protect. The other alternative is to leave the plants outside for a day, hoping that the cold kills off the bugs but not the plants. What do you think?