Saturday, June 2, 2012

Triumphs and Tragedies

It's a bit silly posting these back to back but the garden is changing so quickly these days I actually have a lot of highs and lows to record.  We'll start with the tragedies as they are foremost in my mind right now.

Has anyone else out there tried to grow pumpkins?  If so, I need your help.  I bought a packet of Early Sugar Pie pumpkin seeds this year and planted them under lights in the house over a month ago.  After several weeks and no action I was stumped.  So I tried again, in a different container, new growing medium, not buried as deeply.  It's been over 3 weeks and still no action.  Where did I go wrong???  I was so excited for pumpkins this year.  I even built a compost/manure heap just to grow them in but these darn seeds won't take.  Was I supposed to nick the seeds?  Did they need a cold treatment?  Is there even a remote possibility that if I plant them directly outside I might get still get a pumpkin?

In stark contrast my cucumber seeds germinated in 3 days time and the plants have been growing well for some weeks now.  That is until I planted them out.  I covered them up on the recent cold nights but it wasn't enough.


I don't really know what happened.  I can guess the weather was a major contributing factor.  We've had cold temperatures, wind and rain this week.  Because my previous seeds germinated so quickly I'm trying again.  Hopefully the next batch will have better conditions when they get planted out and I might still get a few cucumbers this season.

Yet another case of bad luck.  I purchased two Solomon's Seal at the plant sale this year and they were planted out almost immediately and have been doing well until the last couple days.


This looks like rust.  The same issue affecting my hollyhocks.  I had no idea it could affect these plants but they will need to be pulled out today.  I can't have them infecting the other Solomon's Seal planted next to them.

After all those lows I took a morning walk in the dew to find some flowers and raise my spirits.  My new flower bed is starting to put on a show.

Winky Purple White Columbine
Unknown hosta
Buds covering an unknown hardy geranium
Ajuga Chocolate Chip
In other parts of the yard shrubs and trees are making a statement.  After a couple years growing time we are really starting to notice these plants beginning to bulk up.


This lilac was my very first plant purchase when we moved here.  It's now around 4 feet tall and has about a half dozen blooms.  The smell is heaven.


The red oak that came so close to death after voles attacked it has sprouted brand new leaves and is also approximately 4 feet tall.  This tree never fails to amaze me.

Quaking Aspen (Poplar)
There was a small stand of poplar trees on this property when we moved here and we have let them expand.  Poplar trees spread by suckers and can quickly take over but we have the room so don't mind. The suckers are anywhere from 1 foot to 6 feet high now and I spent a moment standing in the grove this morning listening to the wind rustle their leaves.  There is no sound quite like it.  What a wonderful way to start a morning.


34 comments:

  1. Quaking aspen, thanks for letting me 'hear' why they are called that.

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    1. I wish I could reproduce the sound for you but hopefully my description is somewhat adequate.

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  2. sorry Marguerite I can't help with seeds not any kind of seed, re the cucumbers I don't know but I am always hearing and reading that you should harden plants off before putting out permenantly, I think they say to put plants out in the daytime and bring back in at night, good luck with the second batch, sounds like your weather is colder than ours, it's a cold north wind here,
    love all your beautiful blooms that lilac looks stunning and with perfume too, I like hearing plants rustling in the breeze, Frances

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    1. Frances, hardening off is quite important and I try to do the best I can with my plants but in this case I think you're right. These plants were too 'soft' to deal with the conditions before getting out there in that cold wind.

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  3. Maybe your problem was with the seed, not the technique.
    Try another seed pack. Jack Be Little are small and edible even though most people use them as fall decoration. I have never soak my seeds and I always have had success when planting seeds in hills.This year I am trying peat pellets to see if it makes a difference.
    Plant seeds in a hill, water with a watering can until the plants are strong enough to handle hose watering.
    I never under seed a hill as the birds love seedlings as their snack. Good luck.
    barb

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    1. Barb, thanks for much for the advice. This is my first year trying pumpkins and I was awful disappointed when the seeds didn't germinate. I'm headed to the nursery this week to see if I can pick up another packet of seed.

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  4. How great to have some sweet triumphs after seeing the tragedies. I love that little delicate columbine. I just planted ajuga Chocolate Chip this year for its groundcover abilities, and was surprised at how vivid the blue flowers are . . . your picture captures that triumph nicely!

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    1. Laurrie, I was shocked as well at the colour of the ajuga as well. You can see it clear across the yard which is unusual for blue. I'm using it as a groundcover as well, actually not in the flower bed but under my evergreens. I'm really liking the contrast of greenery with the darker leaves of the ajuga.

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  5. I have had good luck with my Pumpkins which I started inside and they seemed to be up and sprouting in less than a week. They are called Magic Lanterns from Vessey's and I didn't do anything special just put them in some good planting mix and gave them lots of natural light and warmth inside.
    I have hardened them off this week and today we planted them in some good S----. I'm hoping for no frost or my efforts will all be loss.
    Our cucumbers have also been lost by wind and frost.
    I have some nice pictures on my blog post of our Tomatoes from the company which you recommended.
    I'm babying these before I plant them and the frost just kills them. Too much money and time invested to have them die so I'll wait till June 10 or so to plant them.

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    1. Witch, I'm worried about my tomatoes as they're out there in this nasty wind but so far, while the leaves have some minor damage, they're hanging on. I'll cry if I lose any though. As you say, after so much time invested... I'm planning on a nursery trip this week to find new pumpkin seed, will check out that variety. I really wanted good cooking pumpkins which is why I bought the Sugar Pie but another variety might do as well.

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  6. I am so sorry for your disappointments. I wish I could help but I have never grown pumpkins. I would try another batch or variety of seeds and see how that goes.Your triumphs are simply lovely. That hosta leaf is gorgeous!

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    1. Thanks. That hosta is a couple years old now and really strutting its stuff. I was pretty taken with those big leaves too shining in the morning sun.

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  7. Hum... now that you mentioned it my daughter Victoria has had the same problems this year and I remember her saying, "who can't grow pumpkins." I'd try again, take a glass and line the inside with paper towel, then wet it and put your seeds between the wet paper and the glass then put it into the window. The seeds that sprout, plant. Good luck. As for the Solomon's Seal plants, I have a hoot of them, they are yours for the taking, a bunch came up outside the garden sort of in my rock bed and let me know if you would like them.
    I've been on a blog break then ended up in hospital for an extended stay http://besidethetrail.ca/hatsnhospitalitea/ I'm back reading and writing but it is slow as the recovery period is going to be 10 weeks. I hope you stop by, take care cindy

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    1. Cindy, thanks. I actually have some of the Solomon's Seal you gave me last year. I had to pull this other stuff so your bunch didn't get infected. Think I'll leave it be for now in case more disease starts to crop up.

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  8. Hi Marguerite, The smell of lilacs in bloom is heaven isn't it! Lilacs were actually one of my "tragedies" this year. I had very few flowers for some reason. I think it is time for a good pruning. The columbine is very pretty. It is too bad about the spots on the Solomon Seal! I have not had this problem with that particular perennial, but I do find that it often infects lily of the valley and then spreads to other plants. Planted your lavatera seeds yesterday. Thanks again for them!
    P.S. Love the sound of wind in the poplars. It makes me think of the sea!

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    1. oh no! The smell of lilacs in the spring is something I look forward to. Sorry you missed having plenty of blooms. I'm sure a pruning will help, that seems to be an issue with lilacs. Good luck with the lavatera and thank you for the wonderful bulbs. I got those out this week and can't wait to see them pop up later this summer.

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  9. It's always something, isn't it? Has there ever been a gardening year when everything went fantastic?

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    1. Norah, you are so right. Gardening wouldn't be gardening if there wasn't a surprise of some sort, good or bad.

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  10. I've never seen the rust on Solomons Seal, will have to take a good look at mine..it's been a damp spring.

    As for the pumpkins, that's hard, wonder if it is the seeds...so many seed racks are under the heaters in the stores, or stored improperly, and the germination is bad.
    Even though they cost more, I like the seeds that come in foil packs, they do germinate better.

    We bought quite a few seeds from a Seedy Saturday, and many of them didn't germinate either...some beautiful varieties of unusual plants. Sad....

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

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    1. So frustrating when you can't get a seed to take isn't it? I get so excited and then nothing happens. I'm never sure if I should just let them be and wait (be patient!) or move on to the next thing.

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  11. It's been years since I grew pumpkins but I thought they needed warm weather to germinate. Try buying a new packet of seeds from a different company. Sorry about your Solomon's Seal but I agree it looks like rust. I just had to pull my two favorite columbine because the leaf miners almost killed them. So frustrating! But lilacs make up for so much.

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    1. I love columbine but those leaf miners are terrible. Once you get them it seems there's no getting rid of them. I have my fingers crossed these plants do okay as I would hate to not have columbine in the garden.

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  12. This will be my first year trying to grow pumpkins. My hope is that the seeds will give good germination. Our seeds were from our pumpkins we had last fall. I saved many of the seeds in hopes that we could use them this summer.

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    1. Good for you saving seeds! I should have done the same but was thinking I would get the Sugar Pumpkin seed for cooking. Now I don't know if I'll see a pumpkin at all this year.

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  13. Hi fellow islander: Although we are back home as of Sunday afternoon, my heart and mind are still on the island. I threw pumpkins from Halloween and squash into composter one year and once dug into the garden produced some terrific pumpkins and squash..just try growing directly into garden soil..I can't grow sunflowers, have tried for years..I have that hosta, will try and find the name..gorgeous flower pics once again..sorry couldn't get to flower sale, hubby too busy to take day off..we are thrilled with new basement and new stairs..hope all I planted survives until next year..have to depend on the rain now! Happy gardening Lannie

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    1. Lannie, my apologies. You must think me rotten. I kept meaning to get in touch but it seemed like it's been one issue after another lately. I'm very sorry I missed seeing your new home. Glad to hear you enjoyed your time here though and it sounds like you got so much accomplished. Thanks for the plant ID. I picked up that hosta at a plant sale as it reminded me of one I used to have.

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  14. Hi Marguerite, I LOVE the columbine. I have a bunch of the "wild" columbine and one blue/white one that put on a spectacular show this year. (My lilacs came and went early and also smelled like heaven.) If you're willing to give the pumpkins one more try, you could use a "wall-o-water" typically used for tomatoes. It's sort of a portable greenhouse that keeps the soil and the air around the plant warm until they have enough time to get established.

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    1. I picked up that columbine for a couple dollars last season would you believe? I love end of season sales. The flowers are a much deeper purple than I anticipated. Thanks for the tip. I actually have a couple of those water covers in the garage and this might the time to drag them out and put them to use.

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  15. Hi again: the hosta looks a lot like one I have called Hosta Hybrid "Wide Brim", green centers with lovely yellow edges..grows to 24 inches high, spread 36"..Happy gardening..Lannie

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    1. hmm, perhaps I should have given it some more room!

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  16. Sorry I can't help you with your tragedies -- other than offer a shoulder to lean on long distance. But I am celebrating your triumphs! I love the photo of the hosta leaf with beads of water.

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    1. Kevin, it's rare I get out early enough in the morning to capture dew on the plants. I had to capture the photographic evidence that I was up that early!

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  17. Me too..I love that photo of the hosta leaf with the pearls of water! So beautiful.

    As for the tragedies..I just don't know, but my pumpkins didn't make it either and the cukes are just hanging on. As for rust on the Solomon Seal...that is a new one on me. Thought they were indestructible.

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    1. I had no idea they could get rust either and when I saw it I thought it must be something else. But after close inspection, it really looked like rust. go figure. Sorry to hear you lost plants as well. The high temps followed by cold wind really did a number didn't it?

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