The Yellow Farmhouse Garden

February 18, 2015

Time for starting early seeds.

Filed under: Seed Starting,Seeds — bob @ 12:23 pm

This is time of the year when most people are counting down the number of days to the first day of spring. Gardeners  on the other hand, are calculating the number of weeks until the last frost. That date is far more useful for gardeners than the vernal equinox.

At this time, we are somewhere between ten to twelve weeks from our normal last frost. The way the winter is going right now, I’m planning on a later frost date rather than an earlier one. You have to take your best guess as to when it will be safe to plant outdoors months down the road.

The other alternative, which most people choose, is to just let the greenhouse manager worry about frost and buy your plants from him when the time comes. The problem with that is if you want a particular variety that you’ve seen in a catalog or magazine, it may not be available unless you grow it yourself.

So it’s time to sow some seeds, those that need a long time to germinate, grow and develop before setting outside in the garden. My new seed order arrived in the mail Tuesday and in it were some of those seeds I need to sow now.

The first of many seed orders.

The first of many seed orders.

I’m starting just a few vegetables this week: onions, leeks and celery.  I’ve cut back on flowers and am sowing just heirloom petunias and black-eyed Susan. In years past I would have been starting butterfly weed, sweet William, foxglove, and yarrow too.

The peak season for starting the rest of the seeds won’t begin for another three or four weeks.










Mother-in-law’s tongue plant

Filed under: Flowers,Potted Plants — bob @ 9:17 am

Recently I’ve had three people ask me about caring for  their Sansevieria. I took that as a sign that there may be a few more people wondering about the same thing.

Sansevieria, commonly known as mother-in-law’s tongue or snake plant, are probably the most common plant found in people’s homes. I suspect the reason for this is because they survive long after other plants have died from neglect. Therein lies the secrete to keeping a Sansevieria: benign neglect.

Most plants die fairly quickly if neglected. Not so with Sansevieria. Whenever I see a snake plant that has problems, most of the time it’s because its owner watered it too much. During this time of the year watering about once every three weeks is plenty. Water a little more frequently if the plant is in a bright window or greenhouse, a little less if it is in a darker area of the house.

Although they can survive under almost any kind of lighting conditions, full morning sun will help your plant thrive rather than just survive . Continuous bright but not direct light is just as good. I kept one in a bright foyer area for years and it was quite happy there. If your plant’s leaves are flopping over, it may be a sign of too little light.


Mother-in-law's tongue plants do well when their roots are crowded. Note the small size of the pot.

Mother-in-law’s tongue plants do well when their roots are crowded. Note the small size of the pot.

Sansevieria grow under a wide temperature range too. So if you are competing with your most energy efficient neighbors to use the least amount of energy during the winter, don’t worry about hurting your Sansevieria by turning down the thermostat too much, it will do fine in cool, but not cold, conditions. From my own experience I would caution you not to leave your plant in a drafty place when the temperature might go below 40°F for any length of time — low temperatures will cause chilling injury.

Because Sansevieria are grown for their foliage and rarely flower, some people think they are dull and boring. If you are in this group, think about this: NASA scientists have found that Sansevieria has the ability to clean significant amounts of formaldehyde, benzine and other toxic chemicals from the air. So, they’re really not so boring after all.

Fortunately for those who have pets or small children, Sansevieria are non-poisonous however they may cause skin irritation.





February 6, 2015

Going through seeds

Filed under: Seeds — bob @ 9:24 am

We’ve managed to save up a pretty large collection of seeds over the past several years.

There are two large, covered containers in my garage that contain over twenty pounds of assorted vegetable and flower seeds. Most of them are long expired. The oldest are between five and ten years old. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re no longer usable. Even some of the oldest may still be viable, that all depends on what species they are. I just need to take the time to organize them.

I plan to go through and separate the out-dated, non-poisonous ones like sweet corn, peas and melons and feed them to the chickens. The rest I’ll toss into the compost pile. I did that once about five years ago, now it’s time to do it again.

this is a good time of the year to sort through all of those left over garden seeds.

this is a good time of the year to sort through all of those left over garden seeds.

Also we have a number of current seeds, those that we’ve either purchased or saved from our own plants. They date back only a year or two or three. We keep them in glass jars in the fridge. They stay in the planting rotation from year to year. We’ll plant most of those this year.

We don’t have a detailed list of what is in those jars, that’s what Judy is doing this week. Once she gets the list done and compare it to our garden plans, we’ll place our seeds orders.






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