Don't give up!
This is the theme for my March gardening strategies.
Follow me, as I guide you through the various things I have been growing for my garden this past March 2021.
This month I began by opening up the fridge to investigate my cold stratified seeds. One of the Russian Flowering Almond seeds finally cracked open and pushed out a root.
After weeks and months of damp, dark cool temperatures most of my seeds kept in the fridge have been showing signs of mold and mildew damage. Still I have hope for these Almonds. I decided to plant them up into a pot with compost and stick them outside where it is also quite chilly at night, but also warm and sunny in the day time.
Even though I had little hope for this seed, I recently found it pushing the hull up out of the soil surface, and a long root seems to be poking out the bottom of the pot. Even though it's been sitting safely on my deck under the sun and rain, I might need to be protect it from the my neighborhood squirrel who might choose it for a tasty snack. A plant cage should work.
Almost all of the tomatoes I have grown from seed have been growing successfully.
Last month I had picked out the strongest seedlings from the domed cell pack, and poked them into some deeper pots, and they have bounced back with renewed vigor. My timing must have been just right, waiting for a second or third set of true leaves before handling them.
These surface roots have been appearing all along the stems. Even though I buried them as deep as possible, more roots appear along the stems due to the high humidity I provide. With a plastic cup over the pot, I only have to water them once a week, and they never dry out completely or become soggy.
Many varieties growing. Marriage Marzinera, Roma, Beefsteak, Momotaro, Money Maker, and a cherry variety called Sweet Aperitif.
Even though I am dying to bring these outside, and into the sun...
... I must be patient and wait!
March is too early for growing these plants outdoors. Some of the evenings are near freezing. I must wait for May when our climate is warm enough in the evenings for their roots and leaves to not become stressed.
In the meantime, I grab my snippers, and clip away at anything outgrowing their space under the little cup domes. Doing so now will fatten up the stems to become a more sturdy and bushy plant, which I prefer. A sturdy tomato plant can hold taller limbs and more fruit off the soil.
This year, one of the viral gardening fads is Bonchi. Basically growing peppers as a perennial indoors, and training it like a bonsai tree.
(Bon-Sai + Chi-li = Bon + Chi)
Chi is the fire-from-within you put into the world.
Chili is the fire you put into your mouth.
The hardest part about growing a perennial pepper plant indoors is that they hate the dry indoor air, and they need lots of sunlight, so Winter is the pits.
The Aji Rico Chili above has been growing like crazy once it acclimated to the windowsill area it likes. Prior to this I had growing very close to a pair of 100W bulbs, and I was misting the leaves twice a day with water. Ever week or so a new shoot grows up, and I trim it back down to the nearest node, and two new smaller shoots form from there.
Yet this other pepper hasn't changed for nearly four months. The only change is has had it the leaves have enlarged, and a set of flower buds appeared, which I pruned off.
Even though it has finally acclimated to the indoors, it seems to be having a hard time transporting nutrients up through the woody stem. It could be a soil or root problem too. When new buds form, they tend to dry out. If it could bury the stem deeper, I bet that would help it grow better.
Two new peppers are sprouting up quickly from seed. I am still looking for some sweet peppers with a flavor that I like. A bit of mild heat and juicy flesh is ideal for my tastes.
Fifteen days later, look at them now!
NuMex Joe E Parker is a New Mexico Heritage chili with medium heat and medium size.
Marconi Rosso is a sweet Italian pepper. Hoping it taste good with pizza or spaghetti.
One of my students at the Ballroom Dance studio gifted me with this yellow Primrose. She told me it was a flower that comes from England, like her, so she wanted me to plant it to remember her when it comes back every year. Since she is elderly, it was a tendersweet gesture.
Plant gifts to your friends and family are sometimes a wonderful way to commemorate a blossoming relationship or special memory. Its ongoing longevity will bring you peace and joy when a person experiences it, to reminisce over the past, present, and future.
Something about Primroses that I learned is that you can afford to handle them a bit roughly. Divide them up by splitting them down the center. With this plant I was able to get two plants out of one. As long as some roots are still attached, it can survive. Pull off any damaged flowers, and new ones will quickly bud back and bloom new ones.
I planted them in a shady spot where the Corsican Mint has been spreading across a perpetually muddy surface. The boggy soil surface should keep the moisture greedy roots of the Primrose happy.
Nicotania & Daisies
These are some of my favorite seeds to grow. I'm not sure why. I think because Nicotania taught me how to grow seeds indoors better than other vegetable seeds, and if you handle them right, you end up with the most brilliant, fragrant, sweet flowers that last all summer long.
The key to growing Nicotania is high humidity, sterile low-nutrient soil, and water as little as possible, to mimic the hot and humid Southern plantations they originated from.
This top photo is a day or so after the seeds first sprouted. It took about 10 days before the seeds germinated. They do best when only lightly dusted with moist, but not wet soil.
Top row is Santa Barbara Daisy, followed by Perfume Nicotania Mixed Colors, Marshmellow Nicotania Mixed Colors (supposed to change color from white, to pink, to red as the flower matures), and Starlight Dancer Nicotania (forms white trumpet flowers).
Ten days later, their leaves are still tiny, but the stems climb up searching for the light.
I added a few organic iron fertilizer granules to each cell, and with all organic granular fertilizers, they soon rot and mold inside a humid environment.
So the solution is to spritz with water lightly to dissolve any surface mold down, and then sprinkle the soil surface lightly with cinnamon.
A week later, I pick out any stems that have fallen over. Larger true leaves are beginning to appear. To keep the strongest plants from falling over, I carefully filling the gaps with with some pumice gravel.
Nicotania (more commonly known as Tobacco) is a wonderful flowering companion plant to grow. It is one of the most powerful natural insecticides that exists due to the nicotine toxins that kills ants and aphids. Pests will be deterred by their hairy stems, yet bees, butterflies, and birds will flock to the honey nectar hidden in the fragrant, multi-colored flowers.
Be careful handling the leaves, as it is toxic to the skin. It may cause an allergic reaction for some people. It is okay for most people to touch in small amounts, but too much handling and it can cause a rash. Wear gloves if planning to prune off many leaves or stems. Dried leaves may be added to garden water to function as a foliar insecticide spray.
One sole survivor from last year's seeds belonging to the Perfume Mix. I believe these seeds quickly became less viable as time went by.
Also, I have a harder time with seeds covered in a clay pellet coating, as it does not dissolve fast enough for the seed to germinate through. Carrots give me the same problem when pelletized.
I noticed the newer Nicotania seeds I purchased this year were not coated in that clay pellet, so maybe the grower has improved the seeds due to past customer feedback and testing.
The daisies are continuing to grow very low to the soil level, and do not need any aid to prop them up.
Planting Seedlings Up
On a warm, cloudy day, I decided to attempt to remove the largest, most crowded flowers from the cell pack, to give the roots more room to grow.
Clearly the leaves are hungrily absorbing as much natural sunlight as possible. This is the first day they have ever been outside.
Even though I have not watered these in about a week, getting the loose and tender soil out with roots in-tact was a challenge. Improvise and use whatever tools work best. I chose a narrow spoon and knife to gently lift the soil squares out. A few casualties are unavoidable.
I do not dare separate the plants or roots out from one another. I don't even tease the roots from the soil edge. They are too delicate, and the cell walls will collapse if flexed too much. In fact, I had to rescue a few of the casualties that fell off of the lifted soil squares, and attempted to tuck them upright into the new potted soil as best as possible.
Each set of plants is laid on top of a mound of pre-moistened soil, and I gently pack in additional soil. The medium I use is a sterile seedling mix of mostly peat and perlite.
Something I learned the hard way, is to be very careful after bringing the plants indoors again. It let them bask in the sun for an hour, and even this might have been a bit much for the first day shock.
You see after bringing them in, I misjudged and spritzed the surface leaves with water, and they shriveled up immediately, like a Witch's curled toes. I think this is because the leaves had acclimated to the colder wind-chill outside, and even the tiniest splash of water was too drastic of a temperature change after they were already stressed a bit.
Still, the next day they looked as right as rain once again. They are doing well indoors, sitting on the windowsill, with plastic cups on top acting as domes to keep air humidity high. They continue to grow larger.
Everything else not big enough to plant in cups, I left it undisturbed, to continue growing inside the dome indoors with the others. When the domed seedlings become strong larger, I'll replant them too.
That will allow for a successive planting strategy as outdoor temperatures allow for the strongest plants to go outside first.
Pussywillow catkins flowering in March.
This is my way of thanking each of you for your friendship and support. By sharing my talents on Hive, I can also share to help with your needs.
Let my success also grant you some happiness too.