Senior Gardening

One of the Joys of Maturity


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January 21, 2022

One of the joys of getting a bit older is having the time to putter around in the garden. Below is my garden blog. This site also contains sections of recipes, feature stories, and how-tos about specific, and often obscure, gardening lore.


Tuesday, January 18, 2022 - Starting Onions

Yesterday, I looked over my record of planting dates trying to decide whether to start onions or geraniums. The data suggested it's six of one and a half dozen of another. I decided to go with onions. Part way through the onion germination, I may start the geranium seed on paper towels or coffee filters, moving germinated seed into pots of sterile potting mix when the onions come off the heat mat.

Onion Starting Dates

2022 - January 18, 2022
2021 - January 10, 2021
2020 - January 13, 2020
2019 - January 10, 2019
2018 - January 23, 2018
2017 - January 27, 2017
2016 - December 20, 2015, January 22, 2016

2015 - January 24, 2015
2014 - January 22, 2014
2013 - January 16, 2013
2012 - January 15, 2012
2011 - December 30, 2010
2010 - January 23, 2010
2009 - January 2, 2009

Geranium Starting Dates

2022 - ??
2021 - January 19, 2021
2020 - January 19, 21, 2020
2019 - January 23, 2019
2018 - January 21, 2018
2017 - January 18, 2017
2016 - January 6, 2016

2015 - January 19, 2015
2014 - December 6, 2013, January 13, 2014
2013 - January 20, 2013
2012 - January 17, 2012
2011- January 26, 2011
2010 - January 23, 2010
2009 - December 1, 2008

Trays filled with potting mix and rows labeledOnion seed in furrowI started the process knowing that I'd need more sterile potting mix that I had on hand to fill two slotted 1020 trays. So I filled one tray and part of another with sterile potting mix and started sterilizing more in the oven. By evening, I had two trays filled with the sterile mix. I bottom watered them by placing the slotted trays of mix in solid Perma-Nest trays that had an inch or so of warm water in them and covered the trays with clear humidity domes.

Today, I watered the potting mix a little more before putting plant labels at either end of rows in the trays. I used an old plastic ruler to make shallow furrows down the length of the trays and dropped in onion seed, trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to space the seeds a half inch apart.

Trays under lights and on soil heating matsSoil heating upThe covered trays went onto Gro-Mat brand heat mats under our plant lights. While onion seed doesn't need light to germinate, I want the plants to get light as soon as the seed germinates. While Gro-Mats have built in thermostats, I use digital thermostats to more closely control temperatures. I set the thermostats to 75° F.

The image at right shows the thermostats, but only just after I plugged them in. Generally, the heat mats and thermostats keep soil temperatures plus or minus 2° F of what the setting is, even in our rather cool basement in the winter time.

Onion seed usually germinates in 4-8 days depending on soil temperature.

Our yellow storage onion varieties for this year are Clear Dawn, Milestone, and Yellow of Parma. We'll be growing the venerable Walla Walla sweet onion (only stores for a couple of months at best). Our reds will be Red Bull, Rossa di Milano, Red Creole, and Red Carpet. Note that the Red Creole variety is a short day onion and produces small, early onions for us. And lastly, we'll grow some Southport White Globes for a few white onions.

Our how-to, How We Grow Our Onions, gives more information about our onion growing practices.

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Monday, January 17, 2022 - Martin Luther King Jr. Day (U.S.)

Our Senior Garden - January 17, 2022Weather Underground Extended ForecastWe received a little snow overnight. It wasn't our first snow, but it was the first appreciable snowfall of the season. While pretty, it will all probably be gone by tomorrow afternoon, a possibly nice day to work outside.

Our hosta, vinca, and egg carton petunias have all germinated over the last few days. It was time yesterday to get them off the heat mat they were started on and give them some more intense light. After turning off the soil heating mat and removing the clear plastic tray cover, I dropped a fluorescent to four or five inches above the tops of the young plants.

Seeds germinated

The petunia plants in egg cartons are tiny. I'll give them about a week under our plant lights before moving the egg cartons to a kitchen windowsill. The vinca, like the petunias, are for a hanging basket. I'll be starting more petunias and vinca later this month with varieties more suited for going into our garden plots. The hosta are for flowerbeds around the house.

Tiny, tiny petunia plants Vinca for hanging baskets Hosta

I recently looked through January blogs from 2021 and 2020. That triggered me making a long list of items I'd like to get started this month. Starting geraniums and onions top the list. But it goes on to include stratifying and planting milkweed, and seeding daisies, trailing impatiens, dianthus, snapdragons, catnip, and celery.

When I made Portuguese Kale Soup in December, I'd brought in the biggest bag of kidney beans that I had in the freezer. But when I started to soak the beans, I was aghast that the seed was from 2017. So instead, I brought in seed from 2020, the last year we had a good crop of kidney beans and used them in the delicious and nutritious soup. The 2017 bean seed remained in our kitchen freezer until yesterday. Seeing the seed and knowing that I still had three varieties of sweet corn to test, I began yet one more germination test. If the bean seed wasn't something I'd trust to cook with, it might still germinate well.

Germination Test - January 16, 2022

I've gotten a little silly this year ordering sweet corn seed. I'm searching for new varieties we might like, as seed for most of our old favorites is no longer available. After I thought I was all done ordering, I ran across a couple of sweet corn varieties I was tempted to try from a new-to-us vendor, David's Garden Seeds (DGW rating). I ordered some Accentuate yellow supersweet corn mainly on the strength of the similarly named bi-color ACcentuate MRBC that we really like. (Our old, 2012, MRBC seed germinated at 100% in a test earlier this month!) I also ordered a packet of Xtra-Tender 3473, a somewhat rare sh2 white corn variety.

Seed packagingGloxinias in bloom - January 16, 2022Possibly most surprising about the seed order was the packaging, or possibly overpackaging, of the seed. An outer stiff ziplock container held the standard seed packet. Inside, the seed was in another ziplock bag. It made freezing the seed easier than other seed packets, although I wonder how much the packaging added to the price of the seed. On the plus side for David's is that shipping was included in the price of the seeds. If the seed germinates well, I'll be adding David's Garden Seeds to our Others to Consider section of our Recommended Seed Suppliers page.

Some of the gloxinias I grew from June leaf cuttings are still in bloom. The double blooms are lovely, although they keep tipping over prematurely. Considering that they are first year plants, they're doing pretty well. When they stop blooming, they'll go under our plant lights to build corm strength for future blooming cycles (probably after a required period of dormancy).

1800Flowers

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Sage before pruningSage after pruningWe have two sage plants in the herb garden that wraps around our shallow well on three sides. The plants are several years old and put on more growth this year than they have before. But they'd become a bit ungainly, overgrowing the plants around them and out of their raised bed. Rather than wait until spring, the recommended time for pruning sage, I went ahead and cut our plants back today. I think I was influenced to do so as we had what probably will be the last nice day for working outside that we'll have for a while. (Our high temperature today was 50° F.)

Doctors without Borders
Feeding America

Elephant garlic in JanuaryBecause of their woody stems, the sage cuttings went on our burn pile rather than our compost pile. I still have some basil and parsley plants in the bed to pull and compost. I'll also need to trim the oregano to the ground.

While out in the back yard with my camera, I snapped a shot of part of our row of elephant garlic. The hard freezes we've had so far don't seem to have damaged the hardy plants. A few of our regular garlics have put up shoots as well. With the warm fall we had, it's not surprising that some of the garlic is up. It should be okay, but I'll need to check fairly regularly to make sure shoots aren't getting trapped under the mulch.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2022 - Hot Water Treating Tomato Seed

Pyrex cup and Weston darkroom thermometerAfter a disaster several years ago when some infected tomato seed I bought introduced anthracnose into our East Garden plot, I've been more careful to hot water treat all tomato seed we use in our garden plots. And while making sure one starts with clean seed, I've also had to rotate around the areas where infected plants grew for several years. For most folks, seed purchased from responsible vendors really shouldn't require hot water treatment.

Pyrex quart measuring cupI used a two cup Pyrex measuring cup for years in treating our seed. I switched this year to a four cup Pyrex measuring cup, hoping the extra water volume might help stabilize the water temperature. But even so, I had a devil of a time keeping the water temperature at a constant 122° F for 25 minutes. I monitored the temperature with my trusty, 40+ year-old Weston darkroom thermometer.

I began with five bundles of tomato seed bound in cheesecloth in some warm water, adding hot water from a teapot on the stove to bring it up to and maintain the desired temperature. Then it was just a matter of periodically splashing a little very hot water from the teapot into the Pyrex cup to keep it at temperature.

At the 25 minute mark, I began adding cold tapwater to gradually reduce the water temperature to 80° F. Other than a hot water bath in the kitchen sink to help keep the seed warm, I didn't use hot tapwater. While our hot water in the kitchen runs around 130° F, it is soft water and probably contains a bit of salt that wouldn't do the seed any good.

Tomato seed drying on coffee filter on a paper plateI dry the seed first on a coffee filter on a labeled paper plate. The coffee filter gets discarded in a day or so and the seed continues to dry for several days on the paper plates. Once dry, I'll place the seed in labeled seed packets and pop them into the freezer until time to start our tomatoes.

The seed varieties treated today were Earlirouge, Moira, Quinte, and Crimson Sprinter. I only treated a few seeds of each variety. There's always the possibility of getting the seed too hot and killing it, so I have a good reserve of each seed variety in frozen storage.

As to hot water treating seed, the University of Massachusetts Amherst has a great web page with a chart that lists many seed varieties that can be hot water treated for disease control, water temperatures required, and especially diseases controlled. For tomatoes, they list:

Alfalfa mosaic virus, Anthracnose, bacterial canker, bacterial speck, bacterial spot, cucumber mosaic virus, early blight, Fusarium wilt, leaf mold, Septoria leaf spot, Tomato mosaic virus, Verticillium wilt, double virus streak

Hot Water Treatment of Tomato (and other) Seed

Other

Our Fedco Seeds order arrived yesterday in a timely fashion. Last year, our Fedco order toured New England post offices for about ten to fifteen days before heading towards Indiana! This order wasn't a big one, just packets of Yellowstone sweet corn and Rocket Mix snapdragon seed.

Renee's Garden

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Our Senior Garden - January 9, 2022Fruit BouquetsI obviously waited a little too late to take our daily splashshot for today. I didn't get around to it until around five o'clock. With the winter sun low in the sky, there's a lot of lens flare in the image.

I'd been busy watching our Indianapolis Colts play an uninspired game, blowing their playoff hopes by losing to Jacksonville, 26-11. Carson Went should probably update his résumé.

I also cooked a Butterball Turkey Breast for lunch. It wasn't a special occasion. It was just that the turkey breast had been in our freezer so long that it was almost eligible to vote. The menu was turkey, dressing, leftover mashed potatoes, gravy, and green bean casserole.

I had a bit of room in our covered tray over a soil heating mat, so I started a communal pot of Cora Cascade Vinca yesterday. It's a lovely trailing variety that I'll use in a hanging basket. I also moved our moved tradescantia Sabrina cuttings to sixpacks.

Today, I cut off our sweet corn seed germination test early. I had the results I needed, and a few of the seeds were beginning to rot.

Sweet Corn seed germination test

All of the varieties tested germinated at 80% or above. I was really impressed with some of our oldest seed germinating at 100%. I'll probably use up all of our Summer Sweet 7930R and Accentuate MRBC seed this year, as I'm really pushing things with eight and ten year old seed. And I'm guessing at this point that I'll skip planting the Enchanted and El le varieties that only tested at 80%. The Daimon that tested at 80% gets a pass, as it's open pollinated and will go in with our other open pollinated varieties, Silver Queen and Who Gets Kissed?

I got a little crazy ordering sweet corn seed this year. That may be because our sweet corn plantings failed in 2021 due to me getting hurt and not taking care of them. It also may be because our 2020 sweet corn was a bit crunchy, although still very sweet. We still have two pints of that corn in our freezer. But with all the new varieties I want to try, along with some old favorites such as Silver Queen, I hope to grow a lot of sweet corn this year. The plantings won't rival my 2-4 acre plantings of sweet corn during my farming years, but it will be the most we've done in our 80' x80' East Garden plot.

I Alone Can Fix ItWunderground_tenday_forecastI finally finished reading Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker's I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year. When I closed the book last night, I fired off an email of praise to Carol and Philip. Surprisingly, I got a nice response from Carol in just an hour or two! She, or an assistant, are really on the ball.

We're definitely into winter weather here, although not all that bad. I'm looking at our extended forecast looking for for days when I can get a few outside jobs done. Sadly, there aren't any of those occasional pleasant winter days right now. But spring is coming soon.

Alibris: Books, Music, & Movies

Friday, January 7, 2022

Our Senior Garden - January 7, 2022Donors ChooseWe started out today at 5° F. Now in mid-afternoon, it's a balmy 18° F. Just walking out to the truck this morning, my hands felt frozen before I got it started. I'm sure gardening friends to the north are thinking, "What a wimp." But as I age, I find getting used to winter weather more difficult each year.

When I got to my office today to begin writing, it was almost too warm. I think the difference was that the howling winds we've had for a week or so have subsided.

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I woke up with a nasty head cold yesterday. My nose ran. I sneezed a lot. And my eyes watered. It made me wonder if I should get a Covid test. I snuggled all day in my easy chair under a new blanket our youngest daughter, Julia, had given us for Christmas. And after lots of kale soup, orange juice, vitamins, and some Nitryl Severe Cold and Flu, I awakened this morning feeling pretty normal.

I noticed some tiny, tiny green specks in our egg cartons seeded to petunias this morning. The specks were too small to even attempt photographing, but it appears that the petunia seed I started on New Year's Day is germinating.

I also checked my germination test of our sweet corn seed. The results are pretty good already. I usually let germination tests run 7-10 days. This test is just at day three.

Sweet Corn seed germination test

It appears that all of the seed will eventually test good (80% or above germination), I was surprised at the excellent germination of our older seed, especially the 2012 ACcentuate MRBC that has been in the freezer for ten years!

An email yesterday from Fedco Seeds let me know my seed order was on its way. I sort of goofed starting our sweet corn seed germination test, as the Fedco order has some Yellowstone Supersweet seed in it that will need to be tested. I'd forgotten I'd ordered it. And we also have some of the open pollinated Who Gets Kissed? variety that's on backorder from High Mowing Organic Seeds. I'll just have to test those varieties as they come in.

Garden Tower Project Contest

Wednesday, January 5, 2022 - Cuttings, a Sweet Corn Seed Germination Test, and More Seed Catalogs

Wandering Jew Cuttings

WJ cuttings moved to hanging basket potsMore Wandering Jew cuttingsThe Wandering Jew cuttings I took on December 12 have been doing well. Cuttings from this type of plant usually root rather easily. So today, I moved the now rooted cuttings into hanging basket pots (without the hangers). I also took six more leaf and stem cuttings from the parent plant that hangs in a kitchen window. That plant is beginning to show its age, dropping dead leaves and having a number of dead stems on the plant. The cuttings should produce a new plant to hang in our kitchen window, another to hang from our back porch, and a couple more...that probably will get dropped off at our local food bank/clothing exchange.

I sort of cringe every time I write about our Wandering Jew plants, wondering if the use of that common name for tradescantia zebrina is offensive to some and/or politically incorrect. There are lots of pages online that suggest I should use the proper Latin name for the plant. Let me know what you think.

Sage Cuttings

Sage cuttings in potsI have six sage plants in six inch pots overwintering in our sunroom. They'd been outside all summer, so they can't go to our plant room as they might carry in bugs or disease. But I'll need eight sage plants next spring to mark the corners and halfway points of the borders to our East Garden plot. So I braved a really strong cold wind today and took cuttings from our two sage plants in our herb garden that I still need trimming back.

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I trimmed the lower leaves off the sage stems, leaving just three leaves at the top of each stem. Then I dipped the stems in Clonex Rooting Compound Gel. Because sage is so hardy, the cuttings went into unsterilized potting mix in four and a half inch pots.

Sweet Corn Seed Germination Test

As I'm planning our garden for the coming season, I'm considering planting a lot more sweet corn than usual. I have several new varieties of seed from both last year and this year that I'd like to try. (Our 2021 sweet corn planting failed.) And after a really bad experience several years ago, I decided to germination test all of the sweet corn seed we have on hand.

Sweet Corn Seed Germination Tet

I'll be waiting a while longer for another variety that's on backorder until sometime in March. I'll need to test it when the seed arrives.

One more thing I'm going to try is planting our Enchanted sweet corn with our sh2 varieties. According to the Twilley Seed catalog, Enchanted is an "Augmented SuperSweet" that "Combines sh2, se & su genes for exceptional combo of sweet flavor, tender kernels, strong seed vigor and emergence." Since most seed vendors are listing Enchanted as out of stock or a crop failure, I'm guessing that I got some old seed that Twilley still had a good supply of. That's not a bad thing, as long as Twilley plays fair with germination tests. And hopefully, the Enchanted will pollinate well with our other sh2 varieties.

More Seed Catalogs

We're continuing to receive more seed catalogs. Even though I'm pretty well done with seed orders, I still enjoy looking through the catalogs.

John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds Seeds 'n Such 2022 catalog cover Stokes Seeds 2022 Commercial Catalog Cover Turtle Tree Seed Initiative 2022 Catalog Cover Willhite Seed 2022 Catalog Cover

Note that the Stokes catalog is for commercial sales in the United States. Stokes dropped its U.S. retail sales a year or so ago, leaving a gaping hole in our seed order opportunities. Lucky Canadians can still order retail from them. An online gardening friend there ordered some Empress gloxinia seed from Stokes (and smuggled a bit of it to me grin).

Weather

We started out today (well, just after midnight) at about 40° F. From then, our temperatures have slowly dropped. The drop is supposed to continue tonight and tomorrow, bottoming out at around 4° F Friday morning. About the only positive I saw in our Weather Underground forecast was the daylight line in the astronomy section,"Tomorrow will be 0 minutes 55 seconds longer."

Botannical Interests

Monday, January 3, 2022 - When to Start Seeds

Dave's Garden Frost Page for 478821-800-Flowers Deal of the WeekWhen we start our herb, flower, and vegetable transplants from seed is based mostly on past experience. I also rely on a very helpful interactive tool from Johnny's Selected Seeds, their Seed-Starting Date Calculator. Entering an average frost free date obtained from Dave's Garden, the seed-starting calculator yields a long list of vegetables and flowers with date ranges of when to start them.

The folks at Johnny's have added a lot of flower varieties this year to their seed-starter date calculator. It still lacks info for vincas, but Johnny's doesn't sell vinca seed. I also noticed that my readout of the calculator suggests starting petunias from February 3-17. That's about right for petunias for the garden or flowerbed. I started our hanging basket petunias on New Year's Day, as the hanging baskets can be brought inside on cold spring days and also benefit from being on our porch where heat leaks from our old house.

Here's part of what the seed starting calculator recommends for us with our last frost date of April 14. Note that clicking on the image below will open the full list, a very long graphic in a new tab or window.

Johnny's Seed Starting Calculator

AmazonI Alone Can Fix ItAnother helpful source on when to start seed for transplants is the late Nancy Bubel's excellent The New Seed Starter's Handbook. It usually tells me when to seed and how (light, total darkness, optimal temperature for good germination).

Another Good Book

Having mentioned one book, let me get totally off subject for a paragraph here. I'm spending a lot of time reading Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker's I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year. Since I'm a rather slow reader, I'm not quite half way through the intriguing 592 page Christmas present from my wife, Annie. Between writing this blog and reading the book, I'm having trouble getting other stuff done. I even skipped watching major parts of yesterday's NFL games on TV to spend time reading! And if your politics tend to lean to the right, just ignore this paragraph.

Brr

A Cold Morning

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We started out today at 24° F. It's supposed to get a lot colder later on this week.

After writing the line above, I heard our dogs downstairs stirring a bit. I went down to let them out and they immediately went to their outside water bowl. Their inside water bowl was empty and the outside one was frozen. So I filled the inside bowl with cold water and dumped the ice out of the outside one, filling it with lukewarm water.

Burpee Seed Company

Sunday, January 2, 2022 - Starting Egg Carton Petunias

I got our new year and new gardening season off to an early start yesterday, seeding petunias that will eventually hang from our back porch. My mother used to start seedlings in egg cartons on a kitchen windowsill. About ten years ago, I tried starting petunias in egg cartons for the first time. The experiment turned out well, although petunias quickly outgrow the small confines of an egg carton cell. I've continued to start our petunias for hanging baskets in egg cartons since that first try.

Petunias in egg carton on windowsill

I use styrofoam egg cartons for the seeding. Cardboard would seem more eco-friendly, but cardboard cartons don't hold up too well to the frequent waterings the plants need. I prepare the egg cartons by first cutting off and discarding the narrow flap on the egg carton before splitting the egg cell section from the top. The tops get set aside until the petunias are ready to go onto our windowsill. They will then serve as drip pans. I punch a drainage hole in the bottom of each egg cell with a sharp pencil. That allows for future bottom watering.

Cutting egg carton Punching holes Halves assembled
Cutting egg carton Punching drainage holes in cells Halves reassembled
Watering Pellitized petunia seeds Seeding and melting pellet Under lights
Watering before seeding Petunia seeds (under arrows) Melting seed pellet Under lights, on heat pad

The cells of the egg cartons get filled with sterilized starting mix. We make our own by heating damp potting mix in the oven for an hour at 400° F to kill off any damping off fungus that might be present in the potting soil.

Egg cartons seeded to petuniasTiny, pellitized petunia seredBefore seeding, I thoroughly water the starting mix with warm water. Our petunia seed, Double Cascade and Supercascade, comes as pelletized seed, so planting is just a matter of getting one seed in the center of each cell, something harder to do than it sounds. A few extra seeds do provide insurance in case not all of the centered seeds germinate.

Petunia seed needs light to germinate, so I don't cover the seed. To help the pellet dissolve and release the seed on the soil surface, I go back and drip several drops of warm water on each seed with an old syringe. An eyedropper would work just as well.

I part with Mom's practice of just setting the egg carton on a windowsill to germinate, as it's a bit cold on our available windowsill these days. Petunias also benefit from a bit of bottom heat during germination, so ours go into a planting tray with a clear cover on our heat mat and under our plant lights. Our soil mat thermostat has a probe that goes right into the soil, so we can be pretty exact with our seed starting temperatures. For petunias, I set our thermostat at 70° F. A warm, sunny windowsill might work as well.

Once germinated, I'll keep the petunias on the heat mat for a day or two before removing the clear cover and shutting off the heat. They will acclimate a bit to the cooler conditions under our plant lights in the basement before being moved to our kitchen windowsill. The petunias have to be watered almost daily once they get started due to the small size of the egg cells. The egg carton tops used as drip pans make bottom watering pretty easy.

Double Cascade petuniasSupercascade petuniasAfter four to six weeks, the petunias will outgrow their egg cells and get moved to fourpacks and go back under our plant lights. At that point, I usually start more petunias (in egg cartons) to be used in our garden and flowerbeds. In early March, I begin transplanting three petunias each to ten inch hanging baskets (without the hangers attached), still leaving them under our plant lights.

When the weather begins to moderate a bit in late March, the hanging baskets go out to a protected area on our back porch. On sunny days without a lot of wind, the baskets get hung. Since they're pretty portable, the hanging baskets can easily come back inside on nights when frost is predicted.

The last few years our hanging basket petunias have taken a beating from strong winds. We live next to an open, ninety acre field that the wind sweeps across. The nearby Merom Bluff also has some effect in making the winds stronger than areas a few miles north or south of us. My goal this year with our hanging baskets is to get them out of the wind on windy days, as wind damage can really spoil ones plants.

If you're a longtime reader of this site, this posting may look a bit familiar. It's a light re-write of last year's posting on starting hanging basket petunias.

Botanical Interests Burpee Gardening Required FTC Disclosure Statement: Botanical Interests, Burpee, Renee's Garden, and True Leaf Market are some of our Senior Gardening affiliate advertisers. Clicking through one of our ads or text links and making a purchase will produce a small commission for us from the sale. Renee's Garden True Leaf Market

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Happy New Year 2022

Our Senior Garden - January 1, 2022
Click on images to open larger view in a new tab or window.
Hover mouse over images to reveal labeling.

Weather Underground Extended ForecastIt's raining this morning and is supposed to continue raining well into tomorrow. Along with the rain comes colder temperatures. In what could be our last nice day for a while, I screened compost yesterday and moved a cartful of it to our raised asparagus bed. I ran out of compost before I got to our second asparagus bed, Bonnie's Asparagus Patch, and will have to purchase bagged compost for it.

In an industrious mood yesterday, I updated our how-to, Sterile Potting Mix, while a kettle of potting mix was sterilizing in the oven. I'm getting ready for our January seedings. I plan to start petunias, vinca, onions, and impatiens this month. The flowers are all for hanging baskets that will adorn our back porch in the summer.

Jung Seeds 2022 catalog coverShumway 2022 catalog coverAnother seed catalog arrived in the mail yesterday. I usually don't order anything from Jung Seeds, but still occasionally order some things from their R.H. Shumway subsidiary. During my farming years in the 1980s, we ordered the open pollinated Reids Yellow Dent field corn from them...which they still offer. I also really like the woodcut illustrations they use in their catalog. We don't as yet have a print copy of the Shumway 2022 catalog, but were able download a PDF version of it.

While poking around on the web for Reids Yellow Dent, I found an interesting paragraph on Wikipedia's page for Dent Corn.

"Dent corn, also known as grain corn, is a type of field corn with a high soft starch content. It received its name because of the small indentation, or "dent", at the crown of each kernel on a ripe ear of corn. Reid's Yellow Dent is a variety developed by central Illinois farmer James L. Reid. Reid and his father, Robert Reid, moved from Brown County, Ohio to Tazewell County, Illinois in 1846 bringing with them a red corn variety known as "Johnny Hopkins", and crossed it with varieties of flint corn and flour corn. Most of today's hybrid corn varieties and cultivars are derived from it. This variety won a prize at the 1893 World's Fair."

The sentence "Most of today's hybrid corn varieties and cultivars are derived from it," really impressed me. After growing Reids for seven years on the farm, I never knew what the variety had spawned.

Shriners Hospital for Children

During my teaching years, one of my physically challenged students received free care at the Shriner's St. Louis hospital. Today's banner and a small donation are my thank you to them.

Previously on Senior Gardening

 
 

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