Turning over a new leaf.

It’s the beginning of a new month, and hopefully the beginning of more consistent blogging by me.  So, to start out with here’s a useful piece of information for Chicago and surrounding suburban gardeners.

The Native Seed Gardeners Program is offering FREE NATIVE PLANTS to good homes.  All they want in return is for you to take care of the plants and return the seeds produced by the plants to the organization.  You can be a part of “restoring ecological health and diversity to the area’s woodlands and prairies.”

It’s a nice two-fer:  You get free plants, you give nature a helping hand in doing her thing.

This information was passed on in our BUGs meeting and is sponsored by the Chicago Botanic Garden, which, I’m ashamed to say, I’ve never been to.

Our meetings are held at the Garfield Park Conservatory, which is a little closer to my location than the Chicago Botanic Garden.  They’ve got the most beautiful plants growing there.

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(This is what you’re greeted with when you walk through the doors of the actual conservatory)

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(Here is a banana tree with bananas growing)

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(Here are ferns growing on old tree branches)

I’ll take more pictures in the coming weeks after class once I either get another camera or figure out how to take good pictures with this one.

On a more personal gardening note, I’ve started a few Marigolds.  I started the seeds in a little flat on the 15th, transplanted them on the 26th, and here they are today:

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It only took the seeds two days, I kid you not, to germinate.  I couldn’t believe it when I went to check on them.

I’m using my stockpile of styrofoam egg cartons to grow the seedlings.  Instead of cutting the top half off and using only the bottom half, I’m cutting off the very top of the top (if that makes sense).  This way, each plant has a depth of about three inches to grow in.  I’m sure I’ll have to deal with a few tangled roots, but I think the plants will be okay with that.

The seeds germinated so well that I ended up with quite a few.  I figured 24 is enough for my yard, but I didn’t have the heart to toss the extras, so I doubled up in one of the egg cartons.  Now I wish I hadn’t been so lazy and just went ahead and planted them separately.

And here are the seedlings from the  habanero pepper I got from the grocery store…unless, of course, they’re the bell peppers and I got them mixed up because I didn’t label them with my homemade plant labels.   Grrrr.

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These I pre-sprouted, which took over a week for the little root to emerge, and I only had about a 30 percent germination rate with them.  They’ve been planted in this egg carton and sitting on a heating mat for over a week.  I would think there should have been more growth, but maybe I’m impatient.  After reading Granny’s post and seeing how well her seedlings are doing, I’m going to leave the heat mat on 24/7 to see if that helps.

Happy Gardening!!!!

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4 Comments

  1. March 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    But did you read Granny’s comment about giving up on the saved pepper seeds? I finally gave up on them and dumped the seed starter mix back into the bag. When I went to use the mix the next time, I spotted two little sprouts…too far gone to save. Figuring none of the other saved seeds were viable, I had thrown them all away. Oh well, there’s always next year…plus I bought five varieties of sweet pepper seeds, so I think I’ll have enough for this year’s garden! Four of the varieties are heirloom seeds, so if my harvest is decent I’ll have plenty to share with you next year if you want them.

    Granny

  2. engineeredgarden said,

    March 1, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    That’s a cool setup you have for the marigolds! I understood exactly what you were describing. I don’t have any room left for growing some, or I’d start a few, myself. I wanted to plant some around my squash this year, because I read that they help repel squashbugs.

    EG

  3. gardengoodies said,

    March 1, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    Granny-I absolutely do want them. I’ll never turn down a vegetable seed again. Thank you.

    I think if I had opened that bag and seen something growing I would have had to get it out of there and put it in some dirt…ooops, some soil somewhere.

    EG-Thanks. I get the biggest kick out of reusing stuff. You should see what I have planned for Easter.

    I had one squash plant last year and the bugs killed it. I only planted one because I’m not that crazy about squash, but I know it’s good for you. Now I know to plant the marigolds close by.

  4. March 1, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    Cheryl, E-mail me with your address, and I’ll send you a few pepper seeds as soon as I get home. I’m sure there will be a lot more than I can use this year, and there will still be plenty of time to get them started.

    Granny


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