Six on Saturday – February 9, 2019

I didn’t realize I had been AWOL from the Propagator’s Six on Saturday following for several months! It’s a little embarrassing, but I must have been busy. . .sewing? working? reading? In any case, the weather here was very nice this past week – temperatures up into the 70’s – and although it cooled back down again today to a more normal 50 or so, still it was sunny and nice enough to go outside.

Here is what I have to share:

1. Beautiful Hellebores

Hellebores are reproducing like crazy in my backyard and spreading out through the fence into the garden. Interestingly, the white (stinking) hellebores are largely on one side of the yard and the colorful ones on the other side. Occasionally they are found together and I wonder whether they will hybridize? Both varieties make thousands of seedlings, only hundreds of which survive the summer; still enough to crowd out much of the grass and sometimes even English ivy! Remarkable!

2. Winter Propagation

My late winter evaluation of seeds is in progress. I found a box of seeds meant to be sown in Fall 2017. Oops! Baby sweet potatoes I had harvested late that fall and stuck in the box are now sprouting. Those will now join others on my windowsills to green up in anticipation of spring planting.

I planted one bag of the 2017 green pea seeds today. I have fenceline sufficient for another bag, but will need to find a home for the rest. I don’t think these will last much longer without being planted.

Garlic chive seeds that have been drying on my kitchen counter for several months were threshed today. I think dried chive flowers are pretty.

The butternut-like squash (they’re not, but I can’t remember what they were called) have been “roasting” under a flourescent light for two, maybe three years, proving that Nature’s seed packets are truly the best.

And a branch of cuban oregano is rooting in a glass (along with some sprigs of a sedum) so that I won’t be without it in the garden next summer.

3. New Growth

My first daffodil bloom of 2019!

Butterfly bush putting on lots of new leaves (that will probably be frozen off when our weather gets really cold again), catnip thickening up, and clematis leafing out.

4. House Plants

I got rid of all my house plants when I got my cats just over a year ago, but somehow they are creeping back into my house. I keep them in a room by themselves behind a locked door, however. . . except for the ones in the kitchen. . . see Propagation, above.

5. Pretties

birds nest Feb 9 2019

Okay, call me weird. I keep things like this bird’s nest around, just to look at.

6. Who’s Always Working?

Even in the dead of winter, these guys are always hard at work creating great garden soil for me. I’m so appreciative!

Wormy Compost

5 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – February 9, 2019”

  1. I have the same two Hellebore species, both seeding around with no help from me and I’ve never seen any that look like a cross between the two. More’s the pity I would say. Your winter propagation montage could be echoed by almost every gardener with no two ever being the same mix, I’m zooming in to try and read the seed packets, could I grow that?

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    1. Jim, I’m sure you could, I don’t know why not. They are called “Magical Mystery Shell Pea (Green Arrow Type)” and came from Fedco Seeds. Each bag is a 2 ounce packet dated 1/1/17. It seemed to me today that 2 ounces was about 50 or 60 seeds. They take 65 days to produce, and should be grown on a fence as they are climbers. The instructions say “plant 3/4″ deep, 2″ apart, in rows 3′ apart, on fence, as soon as ground can be worked.” I’d be happy to send you a couple of these packets, and if you’d like the garlic chive seeds, I can send those as well! You may already have garlic chives. They are nice little plants – you’ll never need seeds for them again, if you don’t already have them, I can promise you that!

      I will pull out the others from the box tomorrow and take a photo of them, too. It just occurred to me that you might be interested in something other than the peas! I wish you could see all the seeds I have collected. It’s shameful, really. My excuse is that I used to manage a community garden and got into the habit of buying large quantities of seeds because everyone was always asking me if I had any seeds to share, even for their own private garden beds. For years I was also responsible for buying the seeds for shared beds. And one year, my son worked at a heritage seed farm and donated to us everything that the farm was going to discard as “imperfect seed stock.” I gave away lots and lots of seed, but still have much more seed stock than any one person should ever have. A lot of it is old, but even old seeds will sprout to some degree, for most types of plants (not all).

      I admit, I am a seedaholic.

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  2. Love your self-contained sweet potato plant. The leaves are so ornamental. I’ve got a ginger plant in the same windowsill, soil-free situation. Great to see your worms working so industriously! Are they in your compost heap or a wormery?

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  3. Not sure if I can post a photo in this reply, or I would post a picture of the compost bin where these worms reside. It’s an insulated, off-ground, tumbler bin with two compartments made by Jora. In fact I will put in a link to the company here, and give them a plug because I so much like this compost bin, and have a nice story to tell about their service as well.

    I have had this compost bin for about ten years now I think; it was a gift to me from neighbors who were leaving town and could not take it with them. A wonderful, so-generous gift! They brought it to my house, installed it for me, and I later learned it was already full of mature, ready-to-use compost!

    It is under my enormous 150-year-old oak tree and thus does not receive any direct sun, which I think might have helped create the conditions under which the worms have in the past couple of years begun to thrive. In a sunnier site I think the temperatures inside would probably rise too high for worms to live, even within insulated chambers. I did not put the worms inside, but I think their ancestors probably came in on some oak leaves I added to the compost mix. Now that they are there and multiplying by the hundreds (thousands?) I do cater to them. Literally. I bring shredded paper from the office and try not to add much citrus to the composter since worms are said not to like it. I don’t ever let either side of the composter get completely devoid of fresh food for the worms to eat; thus I no longer harvest finished compost but instead I always have plenty of wormy semi-finished compost to add to the planting holes, and I really believe that is as good if not better for the garden soil and the plants.

    The company story! Last fall a friend “helped me out” by taking my frozen garbage (I freeze it until I’m ready to make the trip outside, to keep down smell and mess) out to the compost bin. I didn’t think to advise him to put it in the left-hand side, where the latch freely opened. The right-hand side had been sticking a little, and needed some lubrication, but I kept forgetting. I was making do by opening it carefully. My friend of course went for the right-hand bin latch, forced it when it didn’t easily open, and broke it off. He then promised to fix it but never came back to do so.

    I’m not very mechanical, so eventually I started searching online for a replacement latch. Local hardware stores didn’t sell the latch alone. So I contacted Jora Composters itself, explaining that I had not purchased the composter, couldn’t tell them its age or model number, but would now like to find a replacement latch. They asked me to send a photo of the broken latch, which I did. Within a few days, replacement parts arrived in the mail to me, completely free of charge. I would call this VERY good customer service. And I would highly recommend this composter. It has lasted many years in my backyard and I’m sure that even the sticky latch would never have broken if it hadn’t been forced open.

    https://www.joracomposters.com/

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