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Monday, February 23, 2009

Teaching a la Tootsie....I answer your questions

Good morning Class....welcome to Tootsie's gardening lesson! lol (picture me in a long skirt with my glasses pushed WAY down on my nose...a pointer in my hand....and a bun in my hair- oh and imagine I am VERY SERIOUS- not!!!!! ha ha!!!) (so NOT my style)

Yes! I did save all of your questions! Some of them are VERY old, but I did not want to post the answer until I had something to show you...some of them are getting answered now due to the season, and that I can show you better while I do it myself! Let's get started...there are lots.

onlymehere said: "... I would love to know how to keep geraniums alive and blooming longer. My MIL grows gorgeous ones on her porch that faces north but mine faces south and I tend to kill them. Any hints for me? I hate murdering plants! Cindy "

In my experience, they don't mind a bit of shade or full sun either. I have seen the velvet series not do so well in the full hot sunshine...those ones do much better in the shadier spaces. My garden is primarily south facing. This means I have to water daily to keep "everyone" happy. Geraniums do not like to be wet...but do not tolerate long dry periods in containers well either. If you can possibly find a way to give them a little break from the hot sun, that might help. Otherwise...get your water out daily, and on Friday...get ready to fertilize! (hope that helped)

cindy said: " This is what I have been waiting for! Great post! Soooo, what temperature should the room be that these are in?....damp, dry.... ~Cindy~"

I try to keep the greenhouse warm enough to be comfortable to me with a t-shirt on! This is just around 20C. Room temp or just around there. During the day, it is much warmer in there as the clear roof and walls allow the sun to warm it up...If it gets too hot..I open the window a little to allow some heat to escape for a bit.. I keep my water in garbage cans in the center of the room, and leave the lid off of one to allow for some extra humidity if it feels dry in there. Once the seeds are planted and the moist soil is out in the open, the humidity level picks up quite a bit. I also keep two fans running 24 hours to keep the air moving as to avoid too much humidity-which can cause disease. (did that help?)

pammiejo said: "I'd like to see your light system - are you adding light or just using natural light? How warm are you keeping the greenhouse? I'm interested in all aspects - so keep clicking away! PAM"

My lighting system is simple. The sun rises...the sun sets! lol
The lights you see in the photos of my interior are simply the fluorescent lighting you can mount under your kitchen cupboards...I got them at wal-mart. I use them only to see when I decide to work in the dark hours of the night! My heat is a gas heater, but I have in the past, used ceramic space heaters to heat my smaller greenhouse. These were electric...and very stressful...if the power went out or the breaker tripped...I was hooped! I do still supplement with space heaters in the severely cold weather months if necessary.

Raxx - A day in the life said: " Can you greedily read a post? I did! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, I would love to see the process of all the plantings! Questions; 1 Do you check until all the water is gone and then add more water? 2 How many times do you add the 'no damp'? And yes I would love to know about window sill gardening, it would help me a lot! I love to buy seeds but, not much success."

Okay Raxx....1. I add water when almost all the water is soaked up. I don't want to allow the seeds to dry out, or they will not germinate. Keeping them moist is a big deal for the first few days. 2. No damp is a one time thing when you treat the soil before you plant. Should you end up with damping off issues after that, you will need to mix some up and water from above a couple of times to make the problem stay contained. 3. Window sill gardening is in the post about the artificial lighting and I hope it was helpful!

Kristen said: " Wow look at ALL those soon to be Geraniums. You are soooo smart to be able to plant from seed. Sometimes mine work and other time...not so much. I have a seed question. I have seeds from my Japanese Roof Iris. Now the seeds have been sitting in their pod and have been frozen, snowed on, rained on, and everything else. Do you think they are still ok to plant? I got my original plant by seed (~5 years ago) and they did wonderful...but they were probably "fresher". "

Here are my thoughts on this....YOU FLATTER ME!!! thank you!....now..if those plants were wild ones, they would have to reproduce somehow. I would try to plant them and see what happens. There are many plants that require the seed to be chilled before they will even consider germinating....be patient...some things take a long time to germinate. Banana plants can wait for 45 days!!! (let me know how you make out)

mrsben said: "... Have another quick question regarding Hollyhocks. Does one cut them back for the winter? I have one stalk that is soooooo tall right now and continues to grow and blossom with the new growth only. (Most of it below is bare stem/stalk.) "

I do! who wants a plant that looks like a giraffe? lol

Mary / Mariah said: "I for got to ask , what flowers are more drought tolerant for flower boxes and baskets . I want some thing that doesn't need to be dead headed every day ? I'm planing for next year . Zennias will be in my flower beds , they did better then any thing . Thanks . Mary"

girl...what about Calibrachoa? Portulaca? I know the Calibrachoa (million bells) are considered "self cleaning" as are some of the newer Petunias....try one of those! I use them in some of my boxes.

Raxx - A day in the life said: "...I have seedlings issues! How do you make them last without a greenhouse!!?"

Are you asking about planting outside? or inside? I need more info! I am thinking you are asking about leaving them outside. If you are...you may not want to leave them in the full blazing sunshine at first. Give them some shelter or they could fry. If you are talking about planting the seeds....you will possibly want to cover them with some clear plastic (not in the blazing sun again) as to hold the moisture in. In some ways, the sun is a major setback for a new baby plant...it is hot...and can burn and dry them out! Light shade is best...with a little sun...but some protection.

Raxx - A day in the life said: "Hello is this where you sign up for gardening 101? Good, I have a question? It's about seeds, let's say it's always summer where you live, would you still need a greenhouse to germinate seeds? I planted some in a seedling tray with potting mix and left them in the yard but they did not germinate! I would really like some instructions on growing flowers from seeds, in an 'always summer' environment. Thanks Toots! Raquel"

My goodness...she is so curious! I love it!!!! Thanks for all the questions Raxx...(and everyone else too!) You can start many things directly in the soil outside if you are lucky enough to live where there is no frost! I am not that lucky. I suspect that those seeds you spoke of were burned by the hot sun in your area. If you plant directly into the spot of the garden, follow the direction as to how deep to plant, or not to cover...and water lightly a couple of times each day. It is the moisture level in the first critical days that will determine success most of the time! What type of seeds are you looking at planting?

Should anyone see me leading my blogging buddies astray...please let me know so I can correct myself. I speak only for myself and what has worked for me in the past. I must say again that I am not a formally trained horticulture student...in fact I am not trained at all. I am self taught....trial and error is my teacher! If you have any questions I can answer...I will certainly try! (it might take several weeks or months...but I will do it...right RAXX?)

Thanks for joining me today...class dismissed!