Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sights at the nursery - enjoying the spring

Mini cyclamen just popping blooms
Well it's market day again and they seem like they're coming fast and furious. Thought I had a slow week planned and I wound up working at something everyday. Rest easy though, I did get my naps in! The cyclamen
came through with a couple of pretty blooms for today and we'll see if they sell. We took a lot of pictures yesterday and most of the people photos turned out great. I forgot to take pictures of the honeyberry until sunset and by then I took a few and they're too dark. Suffice to say it is a tiny shrubby plant with soft, medium green leaves - pretty non-descript, so I thought you might enjoy a few shots of the people who make Sage Advice Nursery more than a dream - and turn it into a reality.
Me and Vicki outside her greenhouse

Man I look like a two-ton tessie in this pic, but Vicki looks great. She is healing from cancer surgery and we have both gotten our clean bills of health. Both of us are cancer free! Yay!

This was the first day we put the seedlings outdoors. The low temperatures, which is what I'm more concerned about, are in the high 20s to low 30s now with the lowest of about 24-26F predicted on Tuesday. I think I'll go out and cover the seedlings with some frost cloth then. The plants were getting a bit spindly on the bottom racks so this trip and move outside should be good for them. Now comes the tricky part - keeping all these babies watered.

Speaking of babies, I am concerned about the new seedlings at the big OC greenhouse, if they'll stay wet enough over the Easter break. Can't get in there for four days, the first being Tuesday afternoon. I'll just have to go in and see how they fared. Hate to lose any of that, it is my tomato and broccoli seedlings that are quite moisture sensitive.
Me and Pam outside with the new seedlings

Pam looks great, as usual, in all these pics. She's so funny, she got her bangs trimmed and was pitching a fit about it. She says she looks like a "schmoo". She's such a stitch, I think she looks lovely. Pam filled flats all day without a hitch. Her attitude is wonderful, she takes on all the jobs at the nursery - no matter how grimy - and enjoys every day. We aspire to what evangelist Joyce Meyer says "Never let anyone steal your joy."
My girls - helping me through thick and thin

Here's a great shot of the gals - don't know what I'd do without them. They encourage me and keep me on the straight and narrow. All the plants in this greenhouse lookmg great, but we did have some aphids on the spindly little cumin plants. It really is true - the bugs go for the weakest and cull them out. Keeping plants healthy goes along way to beating the bugs. Just pulled the cumin and pitched it. I'll have to spray proactively - the plants adjacent - to make sure the apids didn't travel.

Uncovering the big cold frame out back
Back to my gardens. Just uncovered the big cold frame out back. We had put arborvitae trimmings on many of the pots for winter protection and they have fared well. The sweet william is the brightest spring green and the potted hellebores even have a bloom stalk coming up. Don't think the pots at Vicki's did well though. We never got around to covering them and there is a lot of standing water in the pots. I think we'll lose quite a portion to rot.

That's the nursery and people tour for Good Friday 2013. Have a blessed Easter everyone!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Fertilizer Friday: Honeyberry and other plants

Up in the middle of the night and felt like writing... sorry no pictures in this post as my phone camera had no juice. Finally figured out the problem - the charger got unplugged somehow. So I'll go out today and take some pictures of the nursery.

Got a few plants a week or so ago from Henry Fields Nursery. I was delighted with the price, which was 50% off of the catalog price - some spring special they were running. I don't know where I'll put them as I have very little space left in my already cram-packed back yard gardens. But, I succumbed to Honeyberry. Been reading up on this one and it is a honeysuckle that has blue berries that taste like a blueberry. They bear fruit earlier in the spring and have kind of an elongated form. They are supposed to fruit in part shade, which made me very happy since that is about all I have left in the packed garden. Growing to 6 feet or so, I figured they would be a nice addition to the yard and if I don't like the berries, I'm sure the birds will.

Also got a Clematis paniculata or fall-flowering Clematis. It advertises that it is sweetly fragrant and blooms up a storm in the later months of the season. I've seen it at a friend's house and it can get a bit rampant. I plan to put it on the new - last year - garden arch that frames the back gate. I also hope to put a Japanese honeysuckle on the other side of the arch. It has a creamy white flower that has a marvelous fragrance and it will bloom in the earlier months of the season - so I'll have both ends of the spectrum covered.

The last plant is a Meyer lemon. It looks a bit gnarly but had three tiny fruit already on it. I took off the fruit so the plant would concentrate more on rooting and growing. I'll put this one in a pot and it will overwinter in one of the greenhouses. The fragrance of a lemon flower is out of sight.

Finally, I went over to Vicki's and got the first harvest off our flats of baby lettuces and greens. Wound up with two bags and left enough of the plants in the flats that I think they'll regrow. Made a "spicy mix" with arugula and spicy mesclun, however arugula is so mild at this stage that I don't think the mix will have that much zing. Fertilized today with fish emulsion - my does that stuff have quite a smell. And traveled home with the scent on me - kitty Jo-Jo and dog, Griffin were very interested in me when I got there.

Linking this Friday with Tootsie and her fertilizer Friday party. Lots of other garden bloggers join in and you can read several other garden blogs from that site. It is kind of nice to know that others are struggling with the weather and great to see blooms from all around the world.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Saturday's Market and a slow week

My produce and plants at market
Was a fair market on this last Saturday. I made double what I did the previous week - which isn't saying much, but I had great fun talking to the people and enjoying my neighbor's company. Here's a picture of my booth. This week I labelled everything and this week think I'll include the recipe for the nasturtium pesto. I tried it tonight on a bagel with some melted smoked cheddar cheese and it was delicious! Maybe if I include a recipe for them, I'll sell a few bags of nasturtium leaves.

My neighbors were nice this last week and some were the farmers, just back from a long winter off. Beautiful flowers and plants - I can only aspire to being such a great grower. I was impressed with the forced bulbs and pansy bowls and Marlene's pussy willow wreaths were a thing of beauty.
Wreaths and wheat grass

Closeup of Pussy Willow wreath

Primroses - nice price at $3.00

Pansy and Viola bowls
My produce was the big seller...only sold about two plants, so it is the bags of lettuce, spinach and parsley that are sustaining me. Don't know if I'll be going to this market on Sunday's in April - as the flea market is so slow and one spends all day there to make ten bucks.

This week is an easy one for me; no new plants coming in and Pam and I will only work on Friday transplanting at the big greenhouse. So I finally got to go out and ride Skipper on the trails today - second time out this spring. Am so glad to go out on the trails rather than go round and round in circles in the indoor arena.

Will be putting up shelves in my greenhouse tomorrow, so that means getting the shelves at ACO on sale and going to McNabb's for some more pea gravel. Home Depot didn't have a single bag of pea gravel in. Can you believe - it almost April 1st and they still don't have the building stuff up yet.

Bought a pot of wheat grass for kitty Jo-Jo at the market for a reasonable $3.00. He doesn't chew it however, he prefers my grass which I think is an oat - not really sure. So that goes that idea...but it's still nice to have a pop of green on the table since I pitched the paperwhites.

Have a great week everyone!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Long Day at Work...

It 8:30 at night and I have yet to process the greens for market tomorrow. I'm wondering if I get up early I can do it then... Luckily Pam helped me load the van with everything but the plants. It is still too cold at night to load in the evening. Can't wait for warmer weather when I can just load everything and relax on Friday night.

The market I am going to tomorrow is not a real early bird one. I don't have to be set up and ready until 8:30am but I think I'll leave the house at 7:30 - the market is only 10 minutes away. There seemed to be an issue getting a booth, as many of the farmers are starting to come back with their Easter plants. I had hoped some more of the cyclamen would pop into bloom but no luck. Got to fertilize with some bloom builder on Sunday. I'll have the houseplants who are protesting the chill in the greenhouse and 3 flats of herb plants. Will load them at the last minute tomorrow.

Pam and I worked all day today from 10am to 4pm - a long day for us. It does take me a half hour to go get Pam and then take her home so add a couple hours to that total. We started in the Big OC greenhouse and transplanted babies. I harvested the aforementioned greens for market and we watered. Did Shasta daisy Snowdrift, Red Carnations, Lupines, Achillea Summer Berries and Broccoli. We have lots more seedlings to transplant and Vicki's greenhouse is maxed out for space. Got to get a couple more shelves for my greenhouse and am praying for warmer nighttime temperatures so some of these plants can go outside on the benches in my yard.

Went next to Vicki's greenhouse and potted up the rest of the Walter's Gardens shipment. Salmon poppies, yellow Corydalis, lemon Heuchera, a purple and white Viola, blue False Indigo and Brunnera Jack Frost. Potted 72 of the Brunnera which was a hit last season so I don't think I'm in danger of running out. Will be selling those at bargain prices - just $4.00 for a 4 1/2" pot. Can't beat the price.

Brunnera Jack Frost

Corydalis lutea

Lettuce Mix almost ready to harvest
Joining Tootsie for fertilizer Friday again this week. Check out her blog and all the other bloggers who join the party.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Walters Gardens Shipment

Lots of cardboard to recycle
The shelves got installed in the nick of time, this morning. Mr. UPS came with a shipment of 9 boxes this afternoon, just after 4. Called Walters Gardens at the last minute yesterday and got the plants put onto the right credit card and asked them for a credit application, so I can get some time to pay off the account. Had the UPS man help me put the boxes right into the back of the van and I was off to Vicki's greenhouse. Got the boxes loaded onto the shelves and began unpacking. Think I'll try and get Vicki to save the cardboard so we can put it on top of the future garden beds, cover with mulch and have some good weed-free soil in a season.

Snowdrop anemone and goatseard
The unpacking was not as much of the pleasant surprise that the Raker's shipment was. Walters Gardens is one of the world's largest perennial producers and I've been amazed with their quality. The plants are fine but they don't look so glorious as they do in the summer. Most are sticks and looking a bit gnarly. May take up to six weeks to make a good-sized show, but they'll grow. I got shorted one of the bleeding hearts, so I'm going to have to call to make sure it is included in their future shipments.

Corydalis and Brunnera Jack Frost
Walter's is great for their packing. Every plant arrived intact and with a full cell of soil. I haven't yet unpacked the bare-root stock, Pam and I will do that tomorrow. We already ran out of soil from Hortmark, so we are going to make a trip to Telly's in Troy to pick up some Sunshine Mix LC1. This mix doesn't have the microrrhizae or root stimulating microbes that the Hortmark mix has but it will do so we don't have to make the day-long journey to Capac. I save money on soil if I buy it up north, but the gas and lunch money may make up the difference.

Poppy starts
Some of the flats had top growth and looked fairly good. The Corydalis and Brunnera looked fine as did the poppies. Tried to grow Corydalis from divisions from Chris' garden last year and failed miserably, so these plants look like they're off to a good start. I love Corydalis lutea for its sweet little yellow blooms all summer in a shady spot. Can reseed all over the place but is pulled up quite easily.

Viola Rebecca and Baptisia
The poppy, above, is a pale salmon called Queen Alexandra. I love poppies. Their bloom season is so short but they are so dramatic in the garden. Plus you can use the space they occupied in spring with some summer-flowering annuals since they die and go underground for most of the summer.

The Baptisia was just stems with a few leaves but the Violas looked OK. They were a bit yellowed on what looked like where they took cuttings. The wholesale growers use these flats sometimes as stock plants so they can take cuttings to propagate with. On the whole the shipment looks good but will take longer than the Raker's material to grow out.

The greenhouse was a pleasant 60F today and only had gotten to a low of 40F. My smaller greenhouse which had been running warmer was only 50F today and I had the heater on high. I think the mass of the bigger greenhouse is holding some heat and not letting it go off at night as much. We don't have any thermal mass in Vicki's greenhouse but it is finally warm enough to do some growing.

Pam and I will have our hands full tomorrow - getting soil, potting starts and going to the big greenhouse to do some transplanting as well. Pam is scheduled to work Friday so we can always do some more transplanting then. The greenhouse hours are early on Fridays, so we can get the work done in the morning instead of waiting until 4pm when we're both worn out.

The seedlings in the big greenhouse are doing OK - many are just slow since that darn house is kept so cold. Still waiting for the peppers and all the tomatoes to emerge -I think it has been about two weeks now. The dried flower seedlings haven't yet emerged and I think it has been a week to ten days for them...

Well Live and Learn - this year is really the learning curve - for me to figure out my timing and space utilization. We won't have the big greenhouse next year so I don't think I'll be growing as many plants from seed. We'll have to figure out space in Vicki's greenhouse as we want to keep growing greens all winter - both for personal use and if there's extra - for the market.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

First Market of the Season

Well, Saturday was our first market of the season and it was a dismal day - weather-wise. Icy roads and a couple inches of snow greeted me in the morning and I got a late start. Had to stop at Vicki's to get my chair that folds up and goes into the van. As soon as I got there and started to set up in the booths I had been assigned to, I realized they were filled with someone else's stuff - and that someone had failed to show up for market. So, I track down market master, Jeremy and say "What gives?" So he proceded to show me to another booth.

Meanwhile, a friend had shown up early at the market, having seen my blog on another website and wanted to see what I had. So I began to pull out my load, only to realize that I had forgotten all the produce that I had spent so long on harvesting and processing... So I helped her get a couple of my miniature cyclamens and a Norfolk Island pine and decided I had to go back home - on icy roads- and get the produce.

Finally, back at the market it was already 9:30am. I didn't miss much as we got about 10 customers, total, all day. You could shoot a cannon through the place and not hit a vendor or a customer. Half of the vendors didn't show up and it was a pretty disappointing market. But, I made the most of every customer and sold five bags of greens and the plants that my friend got. So, I came home with more than I started out with - more than I can say for some markets.

We'll do it all over again this coming Saturday and will bring lots of spinach as that was a big seller. A few of the farmers are coming back this coming week and I suspect they will be bringing Easter plants. Hope I get a few more of the cyclamen to pop before Saturday so I can show a few blooms too.

The garden is still locked in winter's icy grip. I had bet on warmer weather and that's why I had ordered the plugs for early shipping. Walter's shipment comes this week and I need to make room for another 30 flats plus 20 one gallons in the greenhouse. Will be buying some more shelves both for Vicki's house and for my greenhouse. Got to pack them full! Will be putting the 36 cell trays of greens outdoors and will probably sacrifice all the hard work Pam and I did. Oh well, it's a learning curve this year and next year I'll have a much better idea of how much space we have to use.

Dutch Crocus

Haven't seen hide nor hair of any green plants in the garden and the snow doesn't make it any more inviting. I guess I'll post a picture from years past of what spring can look like...

Friday, March 15, 2013

Fertilizer Friday - Harvesting for Market

Nasturtium flowers

Golden Chard

 Going to the Oakland County Market tomorrow and went to the greenhouse and harvested a boatload of flowers and greens. I'll have spinach, baby lettuces with herbs, parsley, rosemary and golden chard. Wonder if I'll be eating lots of vegetables this week with the leftovers from the market...

The packages will sell for 2-3 dollars each with volume discounts for multiple packages. Also am bringing some small houseplants I potted into 6" pots, herb plants that are ready - cat grass, catnip, cilantro, thyme and oregano, and some dried flowers. This market is also a flea market so I will probably offer some of my garden books and my brother's abstract watercolors. Hoping it will go well. If not I will bring my knitting.

Raker's seedlings
Filled greenhouse shelves
Lettuce babies 3-15-13
Pam and I had a big day Thursday. We got all of the Raker's plugs potted up - 537 plants into 4" and a few one gallons. The new shelves have filled up - bought five more 4 tier shelves - and the greenhouse is almost packed. Help! The Walter's shipment comes in this next week and I have no idea where I am going to put it!
Linking to Tootsie Time this week for Fertilizer Friday. This is a blog that gathers links from bloggers around the world to show off and flaunt their flowers each and every Friday. Check some of the other blogs out!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Potting Wildflowers and other chores

Pots of Wildflowers
Seedling trays
They may not look like much now but Pam and I planted a few wildflowers today. Got them from Bluffview Nursery out of McMinnville, Tennessee. This town is notorious for having lots of nurseries that sell inferior stock at cheap prices... But, I was glad to see everything was a good size except the Trout Lilies. Never having planted Trout Lilies before, I didn't know what to expect, but I was surprised to get 50 bulbs in a small ziplock bag, each bulb no bigger than half the size of your pinky fingernail. The trilliums were a good size - I got grandiflorum - the white, luteum - the yellow and erectum - purple only 12 each, thinking about getting a few more. Got 10 each lady, hayscented and Christmas Ferns and 4 huckleberries. The sizes were adequate and the owner threw in a couple more than I I will be ordering again.

Catnip plants in 4 1/2" pots
We also went to the big Oakland County Greenhouse and potted some seedlings. The babies are getting big - did sage, shasta daisy and anthemis - don't know the common name - Golden marguerites maybe - I can look it up... Also moved a bunch of flats over to Vicki's greenhouse and it is filling up fast. This week expecting another 17 flats to pot up. Don't know where they all are going to go. I'm going to Home Depot tomorrow to get another couple sets of shelves and I think I may get two for my greenhouse. Got to pack the flats in and can't waste space.

This next Saturday I'll be going to the Oakland County Farmers Market - will be there from 8am to 2pm. Bringing herbs, houseplants and organic greens. These are some of the catnip plants we've got, also have cat grass - can't leave the pets out.

Pots of Sweet William
The pots of bulbs aren't doing much  but the pots of sweet william are greening up and starting to stretch. Unfortunately, I didn't tag every pot, so I don't know if these are the tall ones or the short ones - ahh the foibles of growing your own from seed, they don't come with tags like some of the nurseries send. We'll see what they do.

Was a lovely day today, probably our first day of spring - 58-65F today and hazy sunshine. Supposed to be mild tomorrow as well with some rain. Today was the first night of daylight savings time, so I had time to clean up "Griffin residue" and take a tour of the garden. Nothing poking up yet. In other people's blogs I see all these great pictures of bulbs and hellebores - can't wait for mine to appear!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Fertilizer Friday - the greenhouses

Mustard or Kale flowers
It's fertilizer Friday and today is the day where we "flaunt our flowers" with other blogs courtesy of Tootsie Time. She is a blogger in western Canada who has started the tradition of other bloggers posting their flowers and plants every Friday. Check it out.

My flowers this week are courtesy of my veggie plot. I don't know if they are kale or a mild mustard as they came from a mesclun mix. Now they have bolted and are producing these pretty bright yellow flowers.
Whorls of flowers

I like how the whorls form. They produce a beautiful pattern. I haven't yet tried eating these. Maybe I'll take a nibble tomorrow or Sunday and I'll report back.

It's gearing up towards the busy season. We've run out of space in the big OC greenhouses and Sunday, when Pam and I work, we'll start to transfer the flats over to Vicki's greenhouse. I'm afraid that that house will be filling up fast as well and I really think I should order a couple more four-tier shelving units for the house.

Baby lettuces and greens

More baby lettuces and greens
The wildflowers came in. I'm glad I ordered 50 trout lilies as the bulbs are the size of half my little fingernail! They'll probably go into a 36 cell tray to grow on. I also received three kinds of trillium and 30 ferns. They are all so small that they fit in a grocery bag in the fridge. But we'll pot them up and see how they do. It's my first time ordering from this nursery in Tennessee so we'll see how viable their stock is.

The baby organic greens are coming along well - maybe a couple of weeks before we start harvesting. I could harvest for micro greens but I don't know how much of a market there is for that. We also have four shelves of seedling trays in this greenhouse.

Talked to Vicki about getting some poly barrels - 55 gallon to fill with water and to use as supports for a center bench. The big drums will serve as a kind of "heat sink" - warming during the day and giving off their stored warmth at night. The heating bill was rather alarming for February so I want to try anything to get the heating costs down and to modulate the greenhouse temperature.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Oakland County Greenhouse update

Greenhouse bed #1 - Nasturtiums!
Greenhouse bed #2 - space for seedlings
The garden beds in the greenhouse are growing well. The nasturtiums are overwhelming the corners. The tomato plants are getting quite big and should be staked. I hate, however, to put lots of work into these beds as I am going to have to dismantle them in a month, so I think I'll let the tomatoes go. They have some flowers on them and I am hoping for a tomato before the season ends. Tomatoes in this bed are too big to dig and transplant to a container but I have 8 pots of tomatoes in the seedling beds that are finally starting to warm up and green up and come back from their phosphorus deficiency. They'll go to the greenhouse in late March or early April when the temps have modulated a bit.

Greenhouse bed #2 is doing well if a bit slower than the first one. Don't know if it is just the varieties that I've planted here, but the growth seems much slower than the other bed and they are side by side. The only difference is that this bed is closer to the vented windows and may be a bit colder. The lettuces are slower but the chard is fabulous. Have had great success at growing chard in these beds. I enjoy chard when it is braised in a bit of olive oil and a touch of garlic. Wilt the greens down and give them a good stir fry. Finish it off with a bit of good balsamic vinegar and you have a tasty, nutritious side dish.

Pretty broad bean flowers
Vicki took out the spent peas and the huge nasturtium in the middle and now there is some space for siting more seedling trays and transplants. Pam and I worked yesterday here in the greenhouse transplanting parsley, carnations and stock and we filled most of this space. Plan to go back on Friday and continue transplanting and I'll probably move some of the flats to Vicki's greenhouse.

Worked at Vicki's greenhouse yesterday and sowed 17 flats of seed - flowers, herbs and veggies. Not growing too many vegetables this year - we'll have to see what the market is like. Lots of people offer tomatoes and most of the common herbs at Oakland County, but I don't think there is the same kind of offering at the Armada market. Thinking about renting a truck this spring to get more plants to market - that is if we have survived the winter well.

I say that because I put some primroses in the greenhouse and most of them rotted. The daffodils are also very slow to emerge if at all. Am worried about winter losses, because we never covered the pots for winter and I think we'll have trouble with a lot of rot. Well live and learn - still have the plastic from this last year so I can remedy my ways for next year.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Calm before the Storm

It has been pretty quiet around here greenhouse-wise. Seeded a flat of peppers and cauliflower today. The cauliflower is called "Orange Burst" and is supposed to have a very orange head. We'll see. The gardens in the greenhouse are growing well. The broad beans are flowering so it shouldn't be long before we get some beans. Took a harvest of lettuce yesterday and I'm afraid the snap peas are all done. I could limp them along a little further but I need the space for more transplant flats.

Lots of babies are ready for transplanting. Carnations, achillea, anthemis and a host of other seedlings are ready to go into the 10 count trays. But where will they go? Vicki's greenhouse is still a bit cool at night for tender stuff and my greenhouse is packed to the gills. Got to call Oakland County and see if I can get another bed for the tender stuff.

I think we'll be moving the lupines, hollyhocks and hardy herbs to Vicki's this week so we can free up some planting space. Pam was supposed to work today but called it off. The cold that hit both of us really has her down and she needs another day of rest. We'll be transplanting fools come mid-March so I need her healthy.

The plants start arriving the week of March 11th. 17 flats of 36 count are coming that week, so that means 612 plants or 61 flats need to be transplanted. The next week the Walters Gardens shipment comes and that is another 300 or so plants. Some of those are bare root so they can go outdoors, but I would like to put them in the greenhouse to give them a head start for May. Was talking to a friend on the phone just now and she said - Yup - It's your first spring doing this. I hope I haven't bitten off more than I can chew.

Sorry no photos of the transplants today. Forgot the phone at home and it didn't make it to the greenhouse to snap some pics. More snow is on the way, possibly 3-5". Yuck am tired of it and ready for spring!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Another testimonial to the cat grass

Kitty Fraxinus enjoying the cat grass with dog Mia looking on
The cat grass is popular. Perhaps a little too popular. Invited friend Janet to the greenhouse to take a harvest the other day and asked if she would like a pot of cat grass for her kitty, Fraxinus. She said "great!" and so I gave her one the same day I took mine home to Jo-Jo. Here's what happened:

As you can see the cat got right into it but then...

Dog Mia enjoying the cat grass a little too much...      
The dog got a hold of it and enjoyed it a little too much. Mia is Janet's new puppy and is not acquainted with the rules as much as their older dog Kiyo.

Well, it looks like the kitty grass is a hit with its target audience. Will have some more available at the Farmer's Market come March 16th! See you then.