Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Indoor Gardening for the Climatically Challenged

If your garden is covered in several feet of snow right now, you can still do some gardening, but indoors instead of out. How about a spot of Internet gardening? Surf on the net and see what's there to thaw your frozen gardener's heart. Go visit the blogs of the garden bloggers in Austin who are able to garden all year round, or visit Green Thumb in India or Nicole in Trinidad for some (semi-) tropical delight or even her from Bliss who has been outdoor gardening several times already this month. Annoying, isn't it, when you're still cooped up inside? But never fear, if you want to get your hands, or paws, dirty - and who wouldn't - you can!
Here's Kadootje helping me out with a spot of indoor sowing. Get your paws out of that seed tray Kadootje, I want to get cracking with sowing some lovely blue trailing Lobelia.

You can never have enough Lobelia, it's such a wonderful plant for pots and hanging baskets. Prices for bedding plants have gone up rather steeply these last few years so I've decided to sow my own whenever possible.
Lobelia seeds need warmth to germinate, around 20 C would be ideal. Unfortunately I don't have one of those nifty heating mats but I do have something else I can use.
No, not Merlin, but what is underneath him. In my bathroom there is underfloor heating and that is what I use for my seeds that need a bit of heat to germinate. See?
Delia and Merlin are very annoyed that one of their favourite hanging out places is now occupied by a seed tray. Sorry sweethearts, but your turn will come again soon. In the meantime they'll make do with this hanging out spot.
Sorry, wrong pic, I got that one from the Internet, it's scream isn't it? I meant to show you this one of course, of Merlin hanging out in a very peculiar way, more or less standing on his head in fact; anything to catch a bit of warmth from the radiator.
Back to the sowing of seeds. If you are a regular visitor of Bliss then you know by now that I'm very keen on scented flowers. One of my favourites is the Sweet Pea. Every year I sow them in January so that they have a head start in Spring. The earlier they flower, the better I like it.
I love the little darlings dearly and would never be without them. They are great in the garden but equally great in a vase as well. A few flowers will fill the whole room with their wonderful scent.
There are several methods you can use to sow Sweet Pea seeds. This is mine:
- take a bit of kitchen towel and make it slightly wet
- put the seeds on the towel and fold
- wait for 1 to 2 weeks for the seeds to germinate, making sure that the kitchen towels don't dry out
- put the germinated seeds in a pot with potting soil and wait for the seedlings to appear
- discard all the seeds that haven't germinated
- pinch out the tops when the seedlings are 12 cm high
- harden them off in early May by putting the plants outside during the day and inside at night thus avoiding the plants being killed off by a touch of frost during the night
- put them in the garden at the end of May or as soon as all risk of night frost is gone.
This year I am sowing some special varieties of Sweet Pea such as this one, gorgeous colour, don't you think?
This Sweet Pea, Pink Cupid, is a trailing one, great for tubs and hanging baskets.
This is Rosemary Verey, named after the late, well know British gardener; an unique blend of various shades of pink to creamy white, very cottage garden-y.
As usual, I am also sowing the plain white ones, as they are a great favourite of mine.
While writing this post I've decided to buy one more packet of Sweet Pea seeds as I've just realised I can't do without these: a mix of pastel shades which I love for their gorgeous colours. I always buy Lathyrus odoratus, I want the scented ones; Sweet Peas without a scent are like Christmas without a Christmas tree to me.
I like trying out new things and when I was buying some seeds last Saturday, I came across this packet; it's Verbascum phoeniceum that flowers the same year you've sown it. Sounds great to me, normally you sow them one year, and enjoy the flowers the next. Now all the joy is to be had in one year's time only. Love the colours too and can't wait to see them in flower in my new border next Summer.
January is also a good month to re-pot plants or to plant up some cuttings. My spider plant had had lots of babies so I decided to plant up a few.
They are protected from the sharp teeth from all the members of the Bliss team by this mini Victorian greenhouse, very pretty, isn't it and so very handy too. I got it in a sale last year for only 5 euro. And it has a friend.
Of course I couldn't resist buying another one when they were that cheap. The second one contains a few pots with cuttings from a lemon scented Pelargonium that had gotten way too big and leggy. So with all the sowing and potting up of plants, getting your hands in the soil and rather dirty is still possible at this time of year.

Now it's time for a bit of instant indoor gardening; there, a lovely basket full of Spring delight! If that doesn't chase away the winter blues, nothing will.
Yesterday I found these two chaps to add to my collection of indoor birds; a gorgeous Kingfisher (ijsvogel) and a lovely Robin (roodborstje).
I leave you with a pic of one of the things that the members of the Bliss team like to do most in winter and there's no law against us humans doing the same thing while we dream of future Bliss in our gardens to come next Spring..
Copyright 2008: Y.E.W. Heuzen

Patience and perseverance are traits necessary to the gardener. One must not be discouraged, but determined to succeed. Helena Rutherford Ely, A Woman's Hardy Garden, 1903


marl1 said...

Hahaha- ik dacht al: wat is de tegelvloer (we hebben dezelfde...:)veranderd...:-))))
Wat een mooie lathyrussen heb je gekozen. Dat wordt straks prachtig!

Frances said...

What a wonderful post, sweet peas and kitties, for a dreary cold rainy/icy day. I will reread it several times for some winter cheering up!

Hillside Garden said...

Klasse, das Toilettenbild ist absolut faszinierend, wirklich!

Und ich liebe die Duftwicken ebenso wie du, leider waren sie im letzten Jahr so spät, dass ich keine Samen nehmen konnte.


Kris at Blithewold said...

I'm a sweet pea devotee too and enjoyed seeing how you get them started. We do nearly the same thing at Blithewold - no nicking for us either. We sow them a 1/4" deep (about half a cm) in moistened potting soil and in a week or two they're up! We start ours in late Feb. and plant them out at the end of April. Ours only last until mid-July - do I remember yours lasting longer?

Ruth Welter said...

Yolanda, I've probably told you before but...I love your cats, they are beautiful.

I've never tried growing Sweet Peas but I do think they are very pretty. I think it is so important to have plants in the house as well as outside. If you have a winter, like I do, it keeps me from going crazy. Knowing I can grow things inside keeps me sane. I have some Begonia's inside and some other odds and ends but my favorite, is my 9 Orchids, love my orchids. Caring for them in the winter months helps my mental state as well. : ) Happy growing to you.

Naturegirl said...

Yolanda and Bliss team this post was a delight to read and view for several reasons! Of course I did LOL in seeing the
(((~cat in the pants!~))))
I appreciate your tips and inspiration to get the sweet peas started! I shall!
Oh that Bliss team in their attempts to keep warm!! Love those images..warms my heart as I snuggle indoors against the (((((cold)))))
outdoors!! brrrrrrrrrrr NG

Ewa said...

You start early :) but your outdoor gardening is also early :)
Sweet Pear and Lobelia - have to think about it.
I love your cats!
and 'winter blues chase away basket' is great!

lenie said...

GRRRRRRRRRR ik sprinten en kijken ....mooi hoor , nou dan sla ik vast geen modderfiguur ;))))
mooi die lathyrus een favo van me ..........

A wildlife gardener said...

What fun that internet piccy is! Loved the post and all the kitty pics too.

I plant my sweet peas in cardboard egg cartons. When they have germinated I pop the whole lot into trays with individual pockets before hardening them off. Jiffy pots are great, but egg cartons cost nothing and it's a good way to recycle them :)

Lis said...

Über das Toilettenfoto musste ich auch schmunzeln.
Letztes Jahr habe ich das erste Mal Wicken ausgesät und bin immer ganz begeistert von ihrem Duft. Ich habe auch Staudenwicken in rosa, doch leider duften sie nicht, das ist sehr schade.
LG Lis

KC MO Garden Guy said...

Yes a garden wouldnt be a garden without sweat peas. I started some form seed that were at the house my parents bought in 1951. They have a wonderful smell and grow like gang busters, well at least for my mother they do. Last year was the 2nd year for mine and they did better than the year before. Wish I had a fence that I could dedicate to them only but they have to share it with a climbing rose.
The president of our garden club hates sweet peas?!? She says they take over? She is the kind that has to have the first and best of everything. Can you say snob!!

Anonymous said...

One thing is for sure: Cats know where the heat is! Your sweetpea collection is going to be stunning! Last year, I planted an heirloom collection called 'Ocean Foam' with pretty blues and lavenders and whites. Lovely, but a leeetle too vigorous for its space!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I love Sweet Peas so much I had them put in my bouquet when I got married. The sad fact is that they can't be grown in Chicagoland because it gets too hot too quickly. I've grown them, only to watch them shrivel & die by the second week of June. As our last frost date is in May, that doesn't leave much time for the plants to bloom. Sigh... yours are so lovely, I wish I could smell them.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Yolanda, this is the most Blissful post. A joy reading it and I chucked several times. It was rather startling to see the "cat in the pants" in the middle of this lovely post. I am still laughing.

Barbara said...

For years already I'm sowing sweet peas, but I never did it in January (only in March). Sometimes a few plants grow by itself in the garden. I'll try to make it this year with your paper method, sounds interesting and I'll start after my holiday in February. I'm curious to see how it works..

kate said...

Your Sweet Pea pictures are colourful and much-needed brightness at this time of year. With the Sweet Pea seeds you are starting this year, you'll have a beautiful crop this coming summer.

Your cats certainly know exactly where to find some warmth ... I love the picture of them grouped together in front of the heater.

And your basket of Primroses is lovely, as are the Kingfisher and Robin. What fun!

I hope the Verbascum flowers this summer. It is a lovely colour.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

I was startled by the cat in the pants picture too. It was totally unexpected!
I've never grown sweet peas, so I've never smelled them before. Sounds like I'm missing out. I'll have to try them someday.

Betty said...

In our climate the sweet peas barely begin blooming before the heat gets them....I'll try your method.....

Thanks for the tip....Betty

Carol said...

Who are you calling climatically challenged? This winter is like a fast from gardening for some of us, making the feast of spring that much sweeter.

And sweet peas are indeed amongst the sweetest of flowers. I've enjoyed them in my garden off and on. I think I'll add them back this spring.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

jodi said...

I read this earlier today, faved it at Blotanical, and forgot to leave a comment! Too funny, Bliss team and Yolanda...and how clever to use your floor for germinating.
A man I know who grows heaps of things by seeds tells me he starts sweet peas in the cardboard tubes of toilet tissue. The tubes allow for good root development, and when it comes time to transplant, he just pops the tube into the ground...voila!
I haven't had good luck with sweet peas--a bit too cool and windy here. But I'm thinking about a special spot for them for this coming year.

Pam/Digging said...

My eyes popped over that photo of the cat in the pants. Thank heavens that's not actually your under gardener in his undergarments, or I'd never be able to get the picture out of my head. :-)

Enjoy your indoor seed growing. I'll be envious of your sweet peas, no doubt, but I'm sticking to outdoor gardening only. Luckily, winter is prime time for digging outdoors in Austin.

kate said...

Note to Bliss team from Lytton:

I have finally made my mum sit down and transcribe my answers to the meme that all of you tagged me for in November. I think you will all be impressed by my toys and my new scarf! I tagged lots of dogs and one family of eight cats (Kylee's at Ourlittleacre).

Now it really is time to sleep.
Paw pats to all of you.

Brimstone said...

Je bent er al vroeg bij met het zaaien van eenjarigen! Ik wacht nog zeker een maandje :-) Wel ga ik nu vaste planten zaaien.
Je hebt wel erg mooie lathyrussen uitgekozen. Ben heel benieuwd hoe die de tuin gaan opfleuren deze zomer.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Hi all and welcome to a startling Bliss!

* Marl1: een beetje humor moet kunnen. Ik ben benieuwd naar de lathyrus, ik hoop dat ze het goed gaan doen.

*Frances: happy cheering up! ;-)

* Sigrun: glad you enjoyed it! ;-) It's nice to read that you love Duftwicken too!

* Kris: yes, mine start flowering late May early June right up till the end of August, mid September but I've had had lathyrus in flower as late as October. All depending on the weather of course. As a rule it is not so hot here in Summer, so the Sweet Peas last a lot longer.

* Ruth: I hear you! I find it hard too to be cooped up inside not able to do some gardening. Like you, I have houseplants (and lots of orchids too, I love them) to keep me sane. Happy growing to you too and lots of purrrrrs from the Bliss team!

* Anna: I thought we could all do with a laugh during the dull and gloomy days of January! ;-) Lots of success with your sweet peas!

* Ewa: I start sowing a few things in January, more in February and most in March. But you are right, the growing season starts earlier here than in Poland. Sweet Peas and Lobelia are great to have in the garden! BTW I couldn't resist buying that basket, it is so cheerful!

* Lenie: arme Lenie, word je hier een beetje voor het lapje gehouden. ;-) Yup, lathyrus is ook een favo van mij omdat ze zo mooi zijn en ook nog heerlijk geuren.

* WG : glad you enjoyed it, a bit of humor brightens up the gloomiest day, doesn't it?
Thanks for reminding me, I have saved several eggcartons for just that. Now where did I put them?

* Lis: yes, that is a funny pic, isn't it? giggle!
I've been growing Wicken/sweet peas for several years now and can't do without them anymore. They flower for such a long time, provide lots of flowers for the vase and their scent is magical.

* Cliff: snob! ;-) How can any gardener not like sweet peas? I find this mind boggling. ;-)
I have several arches in my kitchen garden that I use for my sweet peas. It's so nice to walk underneath one when the sweet peas are in flower and fill the air with their lovely scent.

* nikkipolani: That heirloom Ocean Foam sounds lovely, perhaps I can find it here too. I have lots of space for sweet peas to be vigorous in to their heart's content. ;-)

Thanks for all your comments everybody!

Tracy said...

Such a lot of loveliness...and laughs here today! Sweet peas, oh, how I love those--can almost smeell them! Thank you for all the good tips. And such joy to see all the kitties...even that crazy picture of that cat sitting in his master's pants! Hilarious! Happy Day to you and all the fur-babies ((HUGS))

rusty in miami said...

Sweet pea!! I wonter if they will do well in the tropics. Maybe during out winter

Karin A said...

I love sweat peas! :) A true favourite! Thank you for telling us about how you grow them. Last year I had Pink Cupid. Have a nice weekend!

Nicole said...

That photo of the cat in the pants is too funny-I really thought it was your husband/partner!
I never grew sweet peas but bought a packet of seeds to try-yours look so lovely I am going to sow my seeds tomorrow!

Curtis said...

Can't wait. Maybe my local store will have some seeds this weekend. To tide me over till I order some online. I want to try a few heirloom tomatoes.

Cottage Magpie said...

I love Sweet Peas, but I haven't had a lot of luck getting them to thrive. I'm determined to try again this year! Thank you, Yolanda! Woo hoo! Spring is coming!
~Angela :-)

Green thumb said...

hi dear Yolanda!
Ingenious, as always, are your ways with gardening.
I love sweet peas and yes their aroma is very fresh and invigorating.
Cat-in-the-pants, needless to add anything more to what has already been told in the comments above.
Thanks for mentioning me in your post- it was very sweet of you.

Piondröm said...

Hi Yolanda!
I see that you like cats, we do to.
Futher down on our blog you can see our cats, we have four cats and one dog, and they are the best frends.
One of them even take our dog like a surugate mother, and still are even if hi is about 6 month.
Glad that you visit our blog and you are always welcome.
Regards Ken&Carina

JB's Big World said...

The kitties look so warm by the fire.

No Rain said...

Interesting post on germinating sweet pea seeds. I grow them occasionally, and just push the seeds in the ground and forget about them. Maybe our weather allows such sloppy planting methods.

Birgit said...

Leider habe ich nicht viel Möglichkeiten, Pflanzen auszusäen. Und Nicki und Bonnie helfen mir auch nicht so fleissig wie Kadootje ;0)). Ich hatte mir auch immer ein Gewächshaus gewünscht. Da ich nun aber das Sommerhaus bekommen habe von meinem GG ist leider kein Platz mehr vorhanden. Aber Du hast Recht! Lobelien kann auch ich nicht genug haben. Kein Gartenjahr ohne. Ich liebe das Blau dieser schönen Blumen. Bei mir kommen sie in alles was Topf, Schale oder Kasten heißt.

Das Klo-Foto ist einfach zum Wegschmeißen.

Schönes Wochenende und liebe Grüße, Birgit

Diana said...

Thanks for mentioning Austin Garden Bloggers and posting our badge on your beautiful site! We do garden outdoors year round, but I've been thinking about starting some indoor seeds and you've inspired me! I love the photos with the seed packets and the seeds - how creative -- and the little greenhouses are adorable - you got a good deal on them! Wish you could join us in Austin in April -- you'd love it! Good luck with the seeds and your beautiful kitties!

Libbys Blog said...

I shall have a go at your way of doing sweetpeas, I was so thrilled with mine from last year that I will definately have more this year!
Thank you!

Pilar said...

Your kitties are so cute and I love your garden too.

Bert said...

Hi Yolanda,

Nice to see you prepare for spring and summer. THanks for showing your "technics".



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