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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A New Beginning…With ‘Old Friends’ (and Some New)

A new year has begun, and for many that means new beginnings. New resolutions, new habits, the possibilities of change are endless. The new year, for me, is the beginning of a new season of planting, growing and gardening. A season of hope, and change, new and old.

I have been pouring over the seed books now for weeks. I have made my list so many times you would think my new name was Santa! There are check marks, strikethroughs, question marks…scribbles and sometimes things written so poorly that even I can’t read them!

Each year I try to add a new flower or plant to my inventory. Some of these are keepers, ’old friends’ if you will, and others are plants that I will NEVER try again due to inappropriate climate conditions in my gardens…or just because my ‘newbie’ of the year is a general pain in my A$$ and is not what I had hoped it to be. Around here…you either bloom like the dickens and hold your own…or you just don’t make the cut for the next season.

How do I know what I did and didn’t like? I keep a garden journal. For many years it was simply a bunch of notes scribbled as I planted each package of seeds…notes of what was in each pot that I made for the patio or hanging basket…some notes about what plants thrived in which beds…you get the idea. When my current greenhouse was built, I also invested in a laptop computer on which I stored the important notes of each garden year, and included some photos to go with! I would take a photo of each pot that I planted…and write what I put into each one… then I print it off…place each page in a plastic sleeve and pop it into a binder that I keep on a shelf in my greenhouse.

-for example…my notes would be something like: 6 alyssum (purple) 6 alyssum (white) 5 wave Petunia (silver) 3 apple red geranium. I would add a photo of that pot, and later comment on what I thought of it. Like or dislike…etc.

I also like to keep records of the seeds I order…because some companies are better than others. Some have higher germination in general than others, some have better customer service, prices, selection…etc. By looking back at the garden journal, and taking a peek at the empty seed packets from that particular year, I can get the gist of what I might like to order again and from where!

I am having an issue getting some of my usual ‘helpers’ (old friends) for my greenhouse this year. I usually use a product by ‘Plant Prod’ called “NO DAMP”. It seems that there is NOT ONE BOTTLE of NO DAMP available anywhere. No Damp is an antifungal liquid that is used to treat or prevent damping off disease in young seedlings. I use it as a preventative measure for almost all of my seeds, especially the Dahlias, Geraniums and Petunias.

If anyone has any information as to where I can get my hot little hands on some of this product, or a product that is similar, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE LET ME KNOW! I am one desperate little gardener at this point. I have heard that chamomile tea made into a spray works similarly, or clove tea…and even cinnamon sprinkles….but I am not confident that any of this is going to work…and I am asking for your expert opinions!

I have placed one seed order so far, and have another two or three that I will be putting in, as soon as I finish checking my journal. I have a few things that I should have kept on my list as ‘regular stock’ and a few that are on the list that should have been moved to the ‘not so much’ list.

My regular stock list of other ‘old friends’ is pretty basic:

marigold, petunia, wave petunia, dusty miller, alyssum, malva, lavatera, dahlia, sweet william, bacopa, swedish ivy, pansy, rudbeckia, nicotana, banana, lobelia, verbena, portulaca, geranium, coleus, snap dragon, dianthus, helichrysum, alternanthera…

My newbie list of ‘new friends’ changes each year. This year I am looking at a couple of things…Thymophylla, Datura…and a couple others I am contemplating.

How do you keep records?

Do you have any suggestions to add to my list of newbies?

What are you planting this year?

Do you have any suggestions where I can get a good fungicide? Or an alternative?

I can’t wait to hear your replies…

Well…that’s it for today…I can’t wait to show you what I have been up to in the greenhouse…so until next time…I’ll be getting dirty organizing for the spring plant…and you…just be you…I like it that way!

*) *) *)….you know who you are!


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