Friday, February 26, 2010

Quit Damping Off!!

As Gardeners, it is our job to nurture our seedlings and make sure they grow nice and stout. Tending to their every need in hope that if you do a great job, the once seed, turned seedling, then plant will eventually produce for you. Whether it be sustenance (such as vegetables, herbs, or fruits) or Aesthetically ( being flowers, shrubs, and so forth).

Before you get to this point though you need to make sure that the seedlings grow strong, and don't fall victim to Damping off. Which is when a seed or newly emerged seeding is attacked by a fungus in the soil. Causing the seed to either rot and become mush, or a seedling to become weak and fall over.

some ways to prevent this are:
  • to use seed starting, either homemade, or store bought, as opposed to  reused soil, because there can be left over fungi in them. Some people sterilize the soil. 
  • Same goes for pots/growing containers, make sure they have been cleaned properly.
  • have good air circulation
  • watering just enough, and never overwatering
  • not crowding space between seedlings..less space equals less air flow
just recently Lisa, of Getinthegarden mentioned that Chamomile tea around the base of a plant will help to take care of Damping off ( trick she learned from an Herb farmer she use to work with), I tried it this evening, and well so far so good.. thanks for the tip!!

    Double Coconut Tree

                  On a recent trip to the Garfield Park Conservatory I came across The Double Coconut Tree (Lodoicea maldivica) which isn't really even considered a Coconut tree. it is Extremely rare, and can Primarily be found in 2 of the 115 Seychelles Islands, which are on the South coast of Africa. Often called Coco de mer because the seed was often found floating in the sea by explorers. The double Coconut tree has male and female plants, and cannot be germinated without the other. It is said that The fruit of the tree is very sweet and jelly like, as opposed to a regular coconut which is firm. The germination of this seed is said to be difficult taking anywhere from a few months to a few years. The Leaves of the palm are also fan shaped as opposed to the regular coconut tree. The tree itself can grow up to 150 feet, but the most fascinating thing about this plant has to be the seed, weighing up to 50 lbs, being the "largest seed in the plant kingdom".

    (Shady) Seed Swap List

    Here is a list of what I will be bringing to the table during the Shady Swap:

    Flat Leaf Parsley, Rosemary, Danvers Carrot, Bodacious Sweet Corn, Lolla Rosa, All American Parsnip,
    Ruby Red Swiss Chard, Florence Fennel

    Shishito Peppers, Cayenne Peppers, Catskills Brussels Sprouts, Thai Chili Peppers, Katanya Watermelon,
    Cherokee Trail of Tears Beans, Lao Green Stripe Eggplant, Extra Dwarf Pak Choy

    Blue Poppies, Blue Lavender

    I have to say, the Shady Swap at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show is going to be one of the most interesting ways that I have ever met several new people. This will sure go down in what gardenpunk has often referred to as  #yearoffirsts for me.  

    Sunday, February 21, 2010

    Garfield Park Conservatory

    About a week ago, Carolina and I decided to take a trip to the Garfield Park Conservatory. We had never been and decided that taking her niece would also be a fun experience. She loved it!!! When we arrived at the entrance she was given a sheet that was very interactive, almost like a scavenger hunt..she just wanted the stickers that came along with it...She could not wait to see the chocolate tree,

     unfortunately there weren't any pods, but that didn't deter her, we moved right along. She loved all the little paths and ponds and really enjoyed the fish, and turtles.

     Next up came the Banana tree, which she didn't really grasp, most likely because they weren't ripe, and because there was so much going on..

    To our surprise She actually had given thought into this scavenger hunt and was finding some of the things all by her self!  Finding the Double Coconut Tree seed all by herself.  Amazing by the way..being the largest seed in the planet, weighing up to 50 lbs.

    She then took us on a hunt for the Orange tree,

     which happened to be in the children's section where there is a slide and somewhat of a play pen, for lack of a better word. So she didn't really pay any attention to the tree because the tunnel slide kept calling her name.

    She had a great time and so did we. Can't wait to go again..and neither can she..just this Friday she asked if we could go again..

    My First Seed Swap

                      Even though Twitter and Facebook are great ways to meet other gardeners, I've always been more of the traditional type, where I like to meet people in person, prefer writing letters than email, and talking as oppose to texting. So when I seen the open invitation by SnarkyVegan (on Twitter) I instantaneously accepted. Not knowing what I was getting myself into- insecurities running throughout my head ....
                     We arrived at the house and Snappyjdog welcomes us in, and right away all my worries and concerns were left behind with the cold winter breeze as the door was closed behind us.
    Introductions were made SnarkyVegan was the host, Snappyjdog was the coordinator/ Birthday girl, Stuccolow, MySkinnyGarden, Debbie  and Michelle were all in attendance and drinks were offered as well as snacks ( and I sure love snacks!) everyone mingled talked shop and had a blast. Debbie brought great home made salsa, SnarkyVegan made this amazing pesto that had pistachios in it, and Snappyjdog brought these ridiculously tasty cupcakes from Swirl.

                     On to the nitty gritty... If you want to organize a seed swap following the Guidelines here should lead you to a nice clean swap.
                                               these are the seeds i brought to the table.

    I don't think that my first seed swap experience could have gone any better, I can't wait for the ones to come. Thanks to all who made it great.

    Wednesday, February 3, 2010

    Dealing with Winter

    On these days when Winter begins to tease us and Seed Catalogs start showing up at our doors, getting us ready for Spring. I begin to feel like a little kid again, anxiously awaiting the dreadfully long car ride, to get to the park and just run and play and eat Elote's and Poncho's Paletas. Getting dirty but not ever really caring.
    Paletas Poncho
    (this pic was found on 24Gotham's flickr, thank you for the wonderful pic)

    The worst part about getting to the park was indeed the car ride (a.k.a. winter now a days) , because it always felt like it took forever! 

    As winter takes its corse and it's time doing so, I'm very tempted to start seeds.. but I made that mistake last year and ended up praying for the time when I could start to gradually take everything outdoors because I didn't have space indoors anymore.

    This year in the mean time, i've been working on plotting everything out as well as making educated decisions on when to start everything. I've also been doing a lot of reading as well. So hopefully this year will provide greater success as well as failures to learn from.