Monday, October 25, 2010

Brugmansia Makeover

Here's proof that some houseplants can do well in spite of their grower. This is brugmansia, (a.k.a. Angel's Trumpet),  this particular cultivar being 'Frosty Pink'. I bought it from Select Seeds way back in 2003. All these years, it has merely survived because I never gave it enough sun or food. This spring, it began as the gangly stick at left...growing and blooming to become the 7 foot+  monster at right.
After some slight frost/cool temp damage, the blooms were still opening beautifully on October 14th....
....smelling fantastic as well! (Though I'm too short to smell them up close, the plant is just too tall!)
Poor thing is in such a small pot and so top-heavy, I had to resort to stakes, bungees and old knee-highs to keep it steady in the wind.
The setup skun it up slightly, but no mortal injuries. So now to the task of cut-back and re-potting...., look at that thing! It seems even taller under my porch! It was beginning to rain, so I took shelter for this process.
Here's the pot my friend is graduating to. My Texas gardening guru who has lots of experience with brugs says to put it in the largest pot that I can lug around, as they appreciate plenty of "leg room". I feel even more amazed that it bloomed for me with it's feet so confined, but I finally caught on to a regular feeding schedule this year. About once every month or three weeks in the winter with fish emulsion in water, then every other watering spring to now with either Miracle Grow or fish emulsion (with a capful of molasses to a gallon). I can only imagine how much happier it will be in this larger pot next year!
First, I cut the tops back. *Sigh* I simply couldn't bring myself to remove the blooms!
I combined spagnum moss, orchid soil/chips, and some potting soil to encourage rooting, then strapped the bags to my stumps.
I just happened to have this library bookshelf newly acquired from a friend, so I propped them up in here, blooms and all. They're three feet tall or more, and my friend says that plants started from blooming cuttings will bloom sooner than seed-grown. Bonus! Plus the fragrance was absolutely intoxicating that evening, especially confined in this room.
Here's the sad and oppressed root ball.... I teased the roots out some.....
.....but I was afraid to cut this large root that was cirling the old pot (there were a few more like it, too).
I sprinkled some of my own "nutrient mix" that I use mostly for cacti but figured it could help here: equal parts kelp meal, bone meal, and greensand. I must confess that I use no science, rhyme or reason for adding this stuff. It just seemed like a good idea to me and I felt like it, kind of the way I garden in general and explains my inconsistent success (in other words-I am no expert! :)
And here we are! May I present my friend "stumpy".....
...ready for his long winter's nap until spring. I'm handling his overwintering differently this year too: he will sit in the dark cool of my bedroom with limited water and attention until spring. Last year I kept him leafed out in my bright plant room...I'm told you can handle it either way and have a happy brug. I guess I'll find out!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Encore! Encore!

While removing the protective wire cover from my unsuccessful lone cauliflower plant, look what I found! Another chrysalis! After spotting the last one way back on August 4th, I'm surprised to see this one so late in the season on October 7th. (This is the first year I've noticed one at all, and I was uninformed about the multi-generational aspects of the process until finding this link.)

Just beautiful! I felt badly about disturbing it's position on the cauliflower plant.... I placed it near where I'd spotted that first one in August, here on my big bluestem grass.
I hope it can still metamorphize with the chilly night temps (as of Thursday, October 14th it still looks pretty much like this...I wonder if they are injured by cold snaps?)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Late Season S.P.R (Summer Progress Resuscitation)

This was the foreboding forecast on October 2nd, signaling the beginning of the end of my veggies... the rush was on to bring in anything edible! There were a bunch of green tomatoes....
...along with a nice assortment of peppers, eggplants, teeny zucchini, red asparagus beans (the long ones), broccoli bits, and even a squash blossom. I collected every speck of edible anything!

Then came an unexpected turn of events: my garden recieved some SPR ("Summer Progress Resuscitation"). Like a phoenix from the ashes, this tomato bloom rises from dead, curled foliage...

...and beans are forming once again on my 'Royalty Purple Pod' plants.
The "moon garden" of night-blooming plants has been largely un-phased by the cold all along, aside from the fact that my moonflower vine died back immediately, and this datura hasn't developed a flowerbud (yet).
These 'Caraflex' cabbages were sown August 19th as a fall crop, and they're cruising right along as expected (I have covered the wire with "row cover-type" material on the coldest nights, just to be safe.)

This 'Cocozelle' summer squash has been an amazing producer all season, and now even with damaged leaves I see that blooms are still forming! (Male-only thus far, so I can enjoy sauteed squash blossoms but likely no more fruit.)
This cute little 'Gold Rush Currant' tomato has fruit still ripening! It's growing against a fence on the west side of the property, but there's no radiant heat from a building or anything...amazing.

Check out the fruit and blooms on this 'Fairytale' eggplant! It's in a semi-protected spot between the house and garage, but there's no roof or trees overhead.
Look at my 'Red Deer Tongue' lettuce-the leaves are finally really red (earlier in the season they were mostly green with some specks of red, appearing sunburnt or dirty). All this late season activity is sooo exciting, I wonder if there's enough warm weather left for another modest harvest?
Apparently not according to this guy! He makes this declaration for my area on October 4th, but everything is hanging tough so far.

Good thing my plants don't watch TV!

Friday, October 08, 2010

The Rest Of The (Nasty) Story

Along with the SeedGROW project, I'd planned to (and did) grow several varieties of nasturtiums around the yard as companion plantings to my vegetables. This has worked out very well, as I haven't seen a single significant insult from bugs on my veggies. Anywhere. So here are the other nasty stars of my 2010 veggie planters....first is "Alaska Fancy", with beautiful mottled and variegated foliage, sporting red/orange flowers. It has grown and bloomed quite well all summer, even in the hottest weather (mostly due to our delightfully cool evening temps all summer.) But lately this plant has really taken off! Not to be outdone, look at the yardstick next to these peppers-have you ever had peppers plants get this tall?! I sure haven't, and even better they are still alive, blooming, and trying to set fruit! 

Yea, this nasturtium is happy, eh?
Here's another Alaska Fancy, not quite as robust due to more shade. In the same pot is an "edible-podded radish" (Rat-tail radish, Raphanis sativus), and it's still alive and blooming also!
The nasturtium looks a tad puny, but much happier than it did much of the season. (Again, shade...bad plant mommy! :)
This small coir-lined wall planter is rather amazing, as it contains nasturtuim 'Moongleam', Greek oregano, sweet pepper 'Pimiento De Padron', and a red malabar spinach (added mid-June).

All I did to help things along is add some "Soil Moist" crystals to help retain moisture, and everybody's happy (except the spinach, it seems to need more sun and the full season). This particular nasturtium was especially eager to trail along.....and along....and along!

This coir hanger also had some "Soil Moist", nasturtium 'Tall Singles Mix', alpine strawberry 'Ruegen', and hot pepper 'Numex Sunrise'. The pepper only produced a few small fruits (not enough sun), but the nasturtium and berries did quite well.
Similar story here-nasturtium 'Tall Singles Mix', alpine strawberry 'White Soul', and sweet pepper 'Italian Frying'. Add some "Soil Moist" and let em' go!
One more planter in the theme-nasturtium 'Tall Singles Mix', alpine strawberry 'Yellow Wonder', and sweet pepper 'Sunrise Orange'. This pepper only produced one lone fruit (sun shortage again), but the berries are still going and the nasturtium was especially amazing. You see, the blooms started out solid red/orange....
....then changed to this nice assortment of variations about mid-August....
....and much to my surprise they began to switch back just this week!

 My last nasturtium planting outside of the SeedGROW experiment planters was in this wooden trunk: nasturtium 'Tall Singles Mix', watermelon 'Katanya', Italian parsley, and tomato 'Siberia'. This time, the nasturtium turned out to be this bright yellow, and it trailed out into the yard like the watermelon did.
 It's still going strong this week, and producing lots of seeds for my upcoming nasturtium caper recipe experiment...

.....that I'll use to extend my season after the party's over.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

SeedGROW Project October Update

October here at Millertime has come up with some chilly night temps, making my veggies quite unhappy. However, my 'Spitfire' nasturtiums laugh at the cold.... ...perhaps more easily done when you creep along the ground under the planter.

In this group, 'Spitfire' has rambled in and amongst the veggie and squash foliage very successfully...

...and with the extra sun exposure asserts itself as a bloom star in my fall garden!
They might even make it to a November post!

"I'm growing Nasturtium "Spitfire" for the GROW project, thanks to Renee's Garden for the seeds."

Friday, October 01, 2010

Fall Is Falling!

Leaves are turning... ...peppers are ripening...
...and veggies are the stars in my kitchen!

Lately I'm busy playing "beat the frost", be back soon....