Sunday, January 14, 2018

ARE WE THINKING SPRING YET?

Of course we are. It doesn't matter where you live I guarantee that every gardener among us is busy making plans for the new gardening year. I'm expecting to see a few of these popping up in the next week or so. Wild anemones, Anemone caroliniana,  are usually the first of our native flowers in the spring.


In northern climes first blooms may be a few months away but the ordering of seeds and plants will be well under way. I am recalling my own time spent in Eastern Canada where an old door would be erected on boxes in the sunniest spot in the house ready for seed sowing.
Things haven't changed much today. Yes, I have a greenhouse but it is full to bursting with overwintering plants. No room for seed starting in there. That has moved to my laundry room which has been a seed collection room for the last year or two. Now, with the arrival yesterday of a grow light system it is also the seed starting area.

Stay-n-grow system seen in the GS catalogue
I am wondering to myself why I never invested in grow lights before. Maybe it had to do with the cost as these systems are not cheap. But this year was made easier by using a gift card from Gardeners' Supply. I purchased a starter kit which is the lower part of the system with a plan to add on to it if I find it works well. Grow Light System.

Yesterday morning I opened the box and carefully began the construction on the living room floor. I read a lot of the comments on the website before I made the purchase and almost all of them were positive. I think there was only one negative comment and it had to do with the flimsy nature of construction. Not true at all. The product is well made and instructions are very clear on how to build.  Directions are written in good English because the product comes from England. That was a surprise. But I was not so careful taking it into the laundry room and one of the bulbs fell out and smashed!!!! Oh! careless me. Not an easy bulb to find in Austin so I am ordering on line and fingers crossed it is the right one.



My only complaint is that there is some additional expense required to add trays (shown above) on which to put your seeds starting trays, because the tray beds are perforated. GS does sell products that would work here or you can source on your own. Being a collector of anything useful that comes into the house I will reuse polystyrene meat trays to prevent water spills.

I am thrilled with the product and already well ahead on starting seeds. I also have heat mats on which to put the trays until the seeds germinate. And I plan to add the next level to the system.

When it goes dark the bulb puts out a tremendous amount of light so much so that it lights up the garden through the window. I have decided to turn it off when I go to bed.

The start of the New Year adds another year onto my age and with the realization that I cannot do quite as much in the garden as I used to do I added a piece of power equipment to make a few of my jobs a little easier. A hedge trimmer. I am not a lover of power gardening tools but this one is small, quiet and easy for me to handle.


It's main purpose will be to trim the fig ivy walls, a job that takes hours of my time. I haven't tried it yet because it is too early to be trimming off the winter kill but I did take it out for a trial run yesterday. The object was the Salvia leucantha outside the walls. I trimmed the large stems by hand and then finished off with the hedge trimmer. I was thrilled with its performance.


Who would think that this pile of sticks would look like this within a few months?
Salvia leucantha May1 2017
At the same time I cut back the miscanthus grass growing alongside the greenhouse. I wouldn't normally cut back this grass so early but it is ready to be moved to another location. I am waiting on the lemon grass growing in the corner. It survived out here last winter and I am hoping for a repeat performance. It was never watered at all last year and still grew well in the decomposed granite. If it doesn't survive I have several shoots potted up in the greenhouse and will replace in this spot. This is a big grass and needs lots of room.There is no flower but it produces masses of fresh shoots for my Thai recipes.

Lemon grass

The area outside the walls is a transition area between wall and septic field. It is planted with waif and strays from the garden, lantana, salvias, prickly pear, Mexican mint marigold, blue mist flower a crape myrtle and pomegranate ; all deer proof plants. It is now tidied up and mulched waiting for spring to arrive. 


It feels good to have made a start on winter clean up.

8 comments:

  1. Fabulous purchases and kudos to you for all the winter garden work. You have made me want a grow light system. I have 2 heat mats on which I start seeds in the greenhouse, but it's so full and difficult to move around in that I'll have work to do to make room for seed trays. I just haven't felt like gardening or even tending properly to the green house plants. I guess it's time to get started!

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    1. That's part of my problem Diana-no room to walk in the greenhouse as there are plants all over the floor. Plus I have been sick for 2 whole weeks and although I am feeling better the coughing and congestion don't seem to end. At least the sun is shining and I am pushing myself to move and get some things done.

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  2. You are so right on both counts: aging gardeners trying to figure out how to make it easier and safer to keep gardening and thinking gardening and ordering plants despite a temp of 0 degrees F. this morning. Now I am off to the gym to keep me able to get up and down off of my knees when April comes!

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  3. That's a beautiful little anemone! Your seed-starting set-up looks very professional. I bought a small system a couple of years ago and also installed it in my laundry room but it was cumbersome to work around and I haven't used it since the first year; however, I can direct sow a lot of seeds in this climate so I've been doing much more of that in my cutting garden. The biggest obstacles to success there are intrusions by squirrels and birds. The hedge trimmer looks like a jewel.

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  4. I have been doing a lot of thinking about the new gardening year...basically, I am always thinking about gardening! I have the same Black & Decker hedge trimmer. I purchased it last year to make my garden pruning a lot easier and it is fabulous. Now I want more! You're right about aging and looking to make chores a little easier, so I am planting more low maintenance plants as I get older and getting better tools. Your Anemone photo is great...spring soon?!

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    1. I am the same way-never stop thinking about gardening. I'm excited to try the hedge trimmer because much as I like the swish swish of the shears it is hard work on the arms, as well as time consuming. With todays weather it is very hard to think spring!

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  5. The anemone is so pretty! I love the color.

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  6. This looks perfect, for you.
    Glad you’re feeling well enough for “construction”.
    Stay warm.

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