Monday, March 31, 2014

Tee sprout scorecard!

did not make it! NICOTIANA ALATA/ Flowering Tobacco
        more on Flowering Tobacco   

3/31/14 something is happening
I came to this party late and did not plant my seeds until March 21 and 10 days later I am seeing something emerge.  My little green sprouts are too small to measure but they are the beginning of good things.  My instructions were 'seed not covered and constant 70 degrees'.   A table in the sun on a blanket of tea towels was the best I could do here.  The real test will be how they survive the next 10 days that I am gone (teeing it up in Pinehurst!!) and Drew is their caregiver.  Hopefully he will be the attentive and not forgotten gardener!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Kitty's Litter

I got my name, Kitty, from my oldest grandchild to differentiate between his many grandmothers.

Since we planted so many seeds I decided to call my journal "Kitty's Litter."

This is my second attempt at blogging as my first page with journal and photos "just disappeared." as I was typing.  Lots of luck baby!

March 5, 2014
Seed sowing workshop - we met for our first workshop with Blondie Sprout and mamsprout, our leaders.

After receiving several instructions, we chose our seeds and got to work.  I chose:

  • Hyacinth Bean - Lablab purpurea
  • Four o'clock or Marvel of Peru - Miralibis jalapa
  • Torch Lilly or Red Hot Poker -  Kniphofia sp
  • Blue Anise Sage of Salvia 'Black & Blue' - Salvia guaranitica
March 8, 2014
Checked my seed pots and no sprouts.

March 10, 2014
First hyacinth bean sprouts appearing.  Appeared to be moist enough, so waited a couple of days and then bottom watered my trays using my second kitchen sink.  Second set of leaves appeared.  More sprouts - but I didn't use permanent marker on my other sticks and I have no idea what they are!  Will have to wait and see by process of elimination.

Bottom watering in kitchen sink.
Hyacinth bean in two top left spots.
Unknown in others.

"Unknown sprouts!"  Later identified as hopefully
Mirabilis jalapa - Four o'clocks, also called Marvel of Peru
We will determine for sure when the second set of leaves appear.

March 14, 2014
WV sprout to the rescue.  Hopefully identified unknown plant, suggested lighting.   Identification comes from a list of seeds brought back from seed share - but can't confirm until the second set or "true" leaves appear.

Plants had been in a window so we moved to the kitchen counter and put under a table lamp to keep them from getting too leggy.  Switched out the incandescent bulb to a compact fluorescent (CFL) natural daylight bulb.  WV sprout suggested that I elevate on books to get close enough to the light to grow straight.  Using the daylight bulb instead of the incandescent would keep the leaves from burning as the incandescent bulb was hotter.   I also added a large flat white tile behind them to provide some reflected light and left them on my kitchen counter.   Did some bottom watering on the others - by now we figured out that one of the seedling trays contained the four o'clock flower. Another one with spiky sprouts that we have not yet figured out.  The fourth tray has not yet sprouted. 

March 17, 2014
The "Tomcat" in Kitty's Litter did not like the plant placement - interfered with his ability to get his lemonade glass.  Moved all plants to laundry room which gave natural light along with the daylight bulb.  The hyacinth bean is growing like Jack in the Beanstalk!  I think it needs to be repotted.

Hyacinth bean plants are drying out fairy quickly, so I watered again before the move. 
Mamsprout urged waiting on the repotting until our next workshop which is coming up in a week.  She wants to make sure there is plenty of root development going on underneath the soil. 

March 27, 2014
2Second workshop.  Everyone brought their seed trays.  By now we have tentatively identified my spiky sprouts as the Torch Lilly or Red Hot Poker.  Still no sign of Blue Anise Sage.  Mamsprout and our guru CG looked at my plant trays and asked if they could check the roots.  Of course I said!  Go for it!

First we looked at the four o'clocks. They determined the roots were strong enough to withstand repotting.  They demonstrated to many of those present how to repot. First, they tipped one small seed container of the seed tray into a plastic tray.  They gently separated the plants.  Each plant was then placed into a slightly larger container - a 3" black plastic pot.  The new pots were half filled with the potting medium - still using the seedless soil mixture.  They poked a hole in the soil with a pencil and gently placed the little seedlings in the hole,  Soil was added to the soil line from the sowing tray showing on the stem, about where the dirt was before.  We made sure to get the roots deep.  Bottom watered again.  They will go home and back under the light. 
Mamsprout helping me separate the tender seedlings and getting
ready to pot up to the next larger size pot - a 3" one.


Next we looked at the hyacinth bean.  One of the sprouts had already developed a flower bud.  They, too, were gently separated into the repotting tray.  We then used a 4" round plastic pot for transplanting.  The pots we are transplanting into are clean, new pots - no chance of contaminating our babies with a fungus.  Again, the pot was filled half full with soil, a hole poked in the middle with the pencil, plant placed in circle, soil added to the mark on the root stem.   We took a long green, garden bamboo stick and cut it into thirds.  The bamboo poles were added, making a teepee shaped trellis which we tied at the top to hold together.  All plants carefully transported home.  I waited to water until I got back home so that the teepee would not collapse in the soft soil on the way home Bottom watered again when I got home.  Carefully carried to the corner windows in the laundry room where the teepee is braced against the window frame.

Horsey Sprout ties off the top of the bamboo stakes making a teepee trellis

March 28, 2014

Four o'clocks
The hyacinth bean vines that are transplanted seem to be doing well.  Some of the four o'clocks are doing well and some are droopy.  All of the four o'clocks are under the lamp.  The torch Lily has been left alone as they look like grass seedlings and I am afraid to touch.  Just watching for now.

Happy Hyacinth Bean!

My unknown, hopefully the Torch Lilly

Next step is a trip to Green's Feed & Seed to get more 3" seed trays and work on the rest of my four o'clocks.  WV sprout wants some of those and I want some of her Siberian Iris - so an exchange is already in the making.  I also have two more hyacinth beans to repot.  

I am going to read more about the Torch Lilly to see what my next step is after all my children who are home for the weekend go home!

April 3, 2014

Some of the transplanted four c'locks are drooping and another dying. Called Mamsprout. She reassured me that the percentage is low of survival rate of seed sprouts. I am losing some of my litter, and I am so worried..

April 5, 2014 

Another four o'clock "bit the dust." On a happier note the, two transplanted hyacinth beans are doing well. they have reached the top of their teepees and started back down. What we thought was a bud was another leaf set. The other two Hyacinth bean plants are definitely ready to transplant. The Torch Lilly seedlings are longer but are not making my heart proud.

April 8, 2014

Watered plants from the bottom in second kitchen sink with a tiny bit of fertilizer added to water. Removed when felt wet to the top, and drained on newspaper. My poor four o'clocks are down to two healthy survivors, and two who lost there growth. I keep hoping for a miracle.

April 10, 2014

My transplanting and yet to be transplanted hyacinth beans are drying out at a faster rate than other seedlings. Was real brave and stuck finger down in soil to make sure not wet in bottom

April 15, 2014

WV sprout supervised my translating of my other four o'clocks. Nest time (Have I lost my mind?) I would not put so many seeds in one pot. When they survive and grow, the seedlings wrap around each other or are hard to separate for transplanting. Repotted the other two hyacinth bean seedlings. This time we did one center stick, instead of teepees. I will compare at a later date. Also planted some quince twigs with root tone as an experiment and also because I liked the color of the flower.

Before transplanting - twining
and vining all around

Freshly transplanted and happy in individual pots.

New hyacinth bean homes and my
quince cuttings on the left

April 16, 2014

All plants seem to have survived the transplanting. The original transplanted hyacinth beams are dry again. Will bottom water today. The original transplants and the yesterday transplanted hyacinth beans are no longer under artificial light, but in the laundry room window that receives the afternoon sun.

June 21, 2014

From WV Sprout:  I know Kitty Sprout is going to update soon.  Thought I would add a photo of my hyacinth bean here!  I have it tied to a string beside an unused basketball pole.  Some hot weather this week has really helped.  Small, but hanging in there!

Hopefully the next time I photograph it will be halfway up the basketball pole.

July 31 and my hyacinth bean is to the top of the basketball pole and over.
Still very sparse leaves which is unusual, but it is trying hard to play catch up.

September 1 - WV Sprout's hyacinth is in full bloom
and lovely on the back side of the basket ball hoop.
 September 1 - WV Sprout's vine showing
lovely purple flowers and seed pods.
July 23, 2014

My hyacinth beans have survived the June transplanting to the outside!

I was worried about the hyacinth beans safety as all my four o'clocks but one disappeared on the transplanting to the flower bed. One day the four o'clocks( that had survived the original inside transplanting) are safely in the ground, and the next day they are gone from the bed--no sign of the plants. I put them in a planter at end of driveway that had partial afternoon sun, partial morning shade. Deer, rabbits,  raccoons aliens, too much sun causing shriveling, a disease? The plants all had a "kink or thin place in their stems. Just for fun and as a control, I planted one in my front porch  pot among the flower and other plants. This one plant seems to be thriving. It has a long vine, but no flowers yet.

My hyacinth beans are thriving--2 from the inside starting and one given to me by WV sprout. One is planted in the partial afternoon sun, partial morning sun bed, one is the "pansy bed" which gets full afternoon sun, and one in a bed where the soil is not good packed clay. Will need to start enriching that bed next year. All 3 plants are very leggy, but a few flowers in the partial sun/shade bed--will I get seeds to share?

Poppies have been fun to follow. Inside planting led to not a sprout. Although several other Sprouts got emerging seeds, I did not get one. At WV Sprout's directions, I combined the rest of my seeds, and another packet of seeds that WV Sprout purchased for all the Sprouts, with sand and planted outside. I most not have used enough sand as my seedlings, after a long wait, came up thick, and at the moment, lush. I watered very other day as we had some hot days in June without a lot of rain. I ddi not thin as directions stated --afraid to disturb the fragile roots. Going with nature's idea of survival of the fittest. Cannot wait to see if I have flowers. Another sprout has given me seeds over the years that never seem to grow--she has beautiful poppies in full sun.

I took seeds from my oleander to share in our first workshop. WV Sprout had done some research. The seed pods and seeds are poisonous, so only a few Sprouts took to plant. I planted a lot of seeds in the large pots that the plants were in figuring that the plant liked the soil, but I only got one plant. I have transplanted the one plant to its own pot, and it is surviving.

Tomatoes. I received three WV Heirloom plants from a Sprout who was not going to be able to tend her plants this year, and two Brandywine Pink plants from WV Sprout. I planted all the tomatoes in a small area off my front porch where I planted last years. Last years three plants provided us with tomatoes for all of August. I have suckered the plants. They are tall and bushy. So, here's hoping.

Eggplant. A friend offered me an eggplant seedling. After, I said yes, the "friend" dropped off 3 eggplants. Now my husband says he hates eggplant. With 3 plants, thought I would have eggplants coming out my ears, but so far only one  tiny, tiny, eggplant on vines--lots of flowers. Eggplant on the grill in my future.

An aside, several years ago as a project, the KGC did a propagation project of hard wood cuttings.  One of the species propagated were viburnum cuttings. We prepared, put them in sand, then in Styrofoam fish containers and stored in a cool but not freezing place over the winter. In the spring, I had nothing but sticks. My husband laughed and laughed, as I usually have a green thumb. As a joke, I stuck two twigs in ground behind the garage, and forgot about them. Lo, and behold, they grew and sprouted leaves. Since they were growing, another gardener asked if I would winter over her three plants as she was moving. Some of the plants were propagated to plant in a meadow at Spring Hill Cemetery. Two of her three plants survived the winter, and those two plants were eventually moved to the cemetery. I transplanted one of mine when we moved. Below is a picture of the transplanted one. It survived the terrible winter we had, and actually flowered this year! The other plant is still alive at our old house and I will try and get a picture of it.

August 1, 2014
My Poppies have bloomed!!!! They are red and white. I know I have a mixture of Shirley and Opium.  I had my doubts as to whether they would survive so I mixed the both with sand and thought I separated but as the poppies came up there was no division of flowers showing. How do you tell the difference I might have to get MAM Sprout to make a house call.

My tomatoes are turning red. Husband had a WV 63 for dinner last night. He said best of season, even beats Farmer's Market.


Brandywine Pink are a new variety for this year. WV Sprout gave me two plants. They seem to be bushier and taller than the WV 63 variety. They are beginning to mature also.

This little tomato was trying to hide. First of season for the Brandywine.

The oleander transplant is struggling, but still survived my month long vacation. House sitter did water during the drought.

The hibiscus coccineus  is very slow in its growth. It may turn out to be a two or three year project.

Lack of water or too much rain?

The four O'clock survived my month long vacation, thank you house sitter. It is still just a stem though. no flowers.

September 2, 2014

Where to start? Planting is fun, watching plants grow is more fun, and harvesting is just plain exciting. My WV 63 tomatoes have been a success story. Thank you, fellow sprout for starting my seeds. I planted 3 plants of the WV 63, and they all lived and produced. I also planted two "perhaps Brandywine," that lived and produced. We liked the taste of the Heirloom WV 63 better than the Brandywine. The Brandywine were not as juicy as the WV 63. We had more than we could eat last week, but there are many ways to fix tomatoes besides slicing. After the disappearance of my seeds by someone who removed from the refrigerator last year, I was excited to save my seeds this year. I very carefully picked the best looking WV 63, scooped out the pulp, and placed in jar with water. Nothing on Day 2. Third day, I scooped off floaters and scum, plus added a little water. Day four watched. Day 5, a few floaters. Day 6--where is my jar? Not again, could I be thwarted?

Late August photos of my tomatoes!
The WV 63 have been the best.
Hyacinth Bean
 I am so excited. The very few flowers have changed into very attractive purple pods. I have babied and coaxed to have the few flowers I have managed. The deer ate one plant down repeatedly. One must not have had enough sun, and the other leaves are a different color--placed in unenriched soil. However the latter two have the same color pods. I looked at a friend's plant last week and she has very healthy pods, and she offered to share. 

I have had some look with the Meniece poppies. I had flowers--red, white, pink, and a white with pink tint.  Trying to collect the seeds has been a lesson in patience for me.

These are right outside my front door.
I have loved watching them. Seed pods
are forming.

Four o'clocks
I had only one plant survive the transplanting from 12 original seedlings from seeds . Not a good success rate. This poor plant continues to grow long but no sign of a flower. Wrong sun? Too much water?

(Shhh! It's the opium poppy)

 (Shhh! It's the opium poppy)

Papaver somniferum

2ft x 2 ft, erect oval growth. Late spring/early summer blooms in red, white, pink, or purple. Rich, deep, slightly alkaline soil with moderate moisture. Full sun or afternoon shade. Illegal to grow in some states, may be illegal to sell or buy seeds in other states. Cocaine production illegal everywhere.

March 5. The first day. Seeds sown in ProMix, watered from below, sealed in a plastic bag, and placed in the dark overnight. 

March 6. Pack was moved to a dormer window with bright, indirect light in a warm room. 

March 9. Sprouts appear. The bag was opened for about 2 hours, then sealed again.

Oh, no. I really over seeded. The thin, weak seedlings are elbowing each other for breathing room. Worse, there are spots of white fuzz at soil level. Could they be mildew or fungus? I consulted with WV Sprout, and her Shirley poppies had the same fuzzy spots. I examined mine with a magnifying glass that I keep handy (old eyes), and she looked at hers with normal eyes (no comment). The fuzz seemed to be thin white hairs on the stems of only the younger seedlings. So we decided to wait and see what happened.

Spooked by the false alarm, I decided to tent the pack with the bag split halfway up on both sides, giving cross ventilation. This arrangement also made more head room for the shockingly fragile seedlings.

March 15. Removed tent and moved pack to a sunnier window. Two days later thinned seedlings by cutting some at soil level. Continued to water from bottom as needed.

The seedlings didn't seem to be growing much and were a tangled mess. I decided to thin them by cutting some with pointed manicure scissors. The GCA manual suggests doing this when transplanting if seedlings are too crowded, but I wanted to see what would happen. I thinned 3 of the most crowded sections and left 3 as they were.

Before thinning.  Upper sections very crowded.

After thinning.

March 22. Placed pack under grow light placed 6" above. Timer set for 16" hours on, 8 hours off.

No real growth in several days, although some seedlings now have first set of real leaves. WV Sprout gave me a plant light bulb, so the pack now has consistent, full spectrum light. I put a piece of white poster board behind the pack to get reflected light, hoping the extra boost would help the puny seedlings to duke it out. Kind of like a neo-natal ward for seedlings.

White reflects full spectrum light, potentially doubling light source.

April 21.  Seedlings haven't grown much in height but are more upright and look sturdier.  A few have also put out the second set of true leaves.  

WV Sprout did further research on poppy cultivation and found out they like cool temperatures.  Since I  was leaving in two days for a week and a half,  I decided to wean the seedlings from indoor pampering.  I decided to plant only three of the cells and take the other three to another sprout for her garden. 

Since the seedlings still had weak stems, I didn't want to divide them.  I decided to put a whole cell in each of in three different  sunny places in my flower border.  However, when I tipped the cells into my hand, two broke in half, so I ended up with five clusters of poppies.  They looked so vulnerable in the open ground---defenseless against both my feet and a deer's mouth. How could I go to New York without adding some kind of security?  So I put them under the protection of an Irish Spring tepee.  

Irish Spring Tepee:  stick structure holding a wedge
of soap in nylon stocking. Two small seedlings underneath.

As I write this, I'm in Brooklyn, hoping my little poppies are surviving life on their own.

May 17.  Results of three plantings under tepees: seedlings of one tepee are gone, those of another had disappeared but last week reappeared, and those of the last tepee have grown and look vigorous.  The Irish Spring fortifications will remain for now.

I'm hoping one planting might do well enough to produce seed in time for the seed exchange. All three tepees will be left standing, just in case the disappeared seedlings return.  Interestingly, a few bloggers reported that seeds given up as failures have sprouted long after their projected germination dates. 

 Note: the outdoor sowing of Shirley poppies is much more successful.  The weather fluctuations, very cold and rainy days alternating with very hot and humid ones, hasn't bothered them. They're in a raised bed with loose soil and  full sun exposure.  

July 16, 2014.  One of the three plantings has survived.  There are two plants in the area, one 22" tall and vigorous, the other 6" tall and weak.  The vigorous one has lush, silver-gray foliage; blooms appeared about two weeks ago.  The tepee was removed six weeks ago, with no deer damage so far.

Oh, joy!  While not successful in quantity, the poppy project outcome makes me happy.  The one surviving poppy plant is magnificent, at least in my eyes.  Each bloom doesn't last more than a couple of days before starting to decline, and I envisioned bright red blooms, but that's OK.  The pink flowers are very lovely, and their ephemeral nature inspires me to visit daily.  I'm planning on sowing seed outdoors--early in spring--next year.

          Poor color quality in this cell phone photo. The bloom is really a lovely, delicate pink.  

July 29, 2014.  There are blooms every few days, but each bloom doesn't more than 3 days or so.  Seed pods form quickly and don't seem to interfere with continued blooming. 

I wish I had lots of these intriguing plants.  The foliage is striking and not bothered by our drastic weather, which has ricocheted from near 90 degrees to 60 every couple of weeks.  The  flower petals are like little wings of  silk, but they last only a short while.  The most I've seen at one time is 4.  

Unripened seed heads hold a long time, adding visual interest.
August 23, 2012.  The first seed head ripened two weeks ago.  A few others have done so since, but there are several unripe ones on the plant.   When approaching ripeness, pods turn grey. The top section rises when seed is ready to drop.   Straight stems hold firm pods upright, and, if cut carefully, pods can be harvested with the loss of only a few seeds. 
(Note on Shirley poppies: much smaller pods, same method of lid opening. Seeds are like dust!)

The pods took so long to mature, I thought  I'd never get seeds in time for the Meniece workshop.  I started checking every day,  and suddenly I noticed one pod had a raised lid.  The "umbrella spokes" section had lifted to make open spaces, like windows, above the pod's body.  When I tipped it, seeds fell out.  So this was the dispersal mechanism of the opium poppy.  Now that I knew what to look for, I was able to harvest several pods. This one plant is sending lots of seeds to California!

Pod on the left is mature, with open spaces at the top. 
Pod on the right is not mature.  Three seeds are also pictured.

August, 2014. Final Report.  Blooms have become scarce, and foliage is dying.  Seeds have been collected and will be packaged for sharing at the Shirley Meniece Workshop.

This was a great project. Although I had sown seeds often in my gardening past, I had never collected them.  Nor was my education limited to my specific chosen plant. The experience taught me to look closely at a different stage of plant life, a stage I had more or less taken for granted. I learned how varied are the ways plants form and protect their seeds, how patient we must be to discover each plant's propagation techniques, and how astonishing a cycle there is in nature.  From seeds as elusive as dust to seeds as big as walnuts, each plant has its own patented method for continuing life.  And all this is open to us if we pay attention,  follow nature's path, and gently help. 

All this---and it's so much fun!

June 10, 2015 (posted by WV Sprout)

Guess what showed up in my yard this spring! After thinking I would not try the poppy again as I did not have any luck last year I had a huge surprise.  Several of the poppies have shown up both in my vegetable garden area and in a second area where I threw out seeds.  I have several that have flourished - with beautiful blooms.  I am delighted and can grow them after all.  Certainly not the abundance that are seen in cooler, less humid areas, but they are here.  I will let a few go to seed hoping for more and save seeds to share with the others.  I thought this one particularly beautiful as it is a great contrast against the red of my tomato cages. 

Lovely color!

June 27, 2015 (by WV Sprout)

Everything seems to be early this year.  Not even July 1 and my poppies have bloomed, set seed heads and ready to harvest.  Looks like plenty to share with Seed Share and with our Hort Committee.  In addition to MAMSprout's post and photos from last year, I found this site that I liked:
Cold Climate Gardening: Collecting Poppy Seeds.
You can see the windows in the
seed pod in the background with
the windows popped up.
I wound up just snipping the pod off and carrying inside.  What a wonderful miracle of nature to create such a unique way of distributing seeds.  I love the little "windows" that open up.  Instead of using a paper bag as they suggest in the "Cold Climate" blog, I just put the pod on a piece of white paper and shook.  LOTS of seeds from just one pod and many more in the garden still to come!

Here is a closeup.
Seeds popping out with just a jiggle of the paper.

All of this from just one!


Horsey sprout news

I planted Larkspur at our first workshop on March 5.

Now Under Lights - Moved seedlings (larkspur, and rose campion) to lights in garage....both grow light and incandescent bulb for heat.  Tented to keep warm on our cold nights. Set on pan filled with small gravel for watering and have my fingers crossed.  Blue Anise still refusing to germinate.

September 9, 2014
After a demonstration of seed collecting I am inspired to collect seeds from the Larkspur, tomato, and okra that were planted under Hort Committee direction.  Am dutifully squeezing and fermenting tomato seeds, drying okra and capturing Larkspur.

On the Clocks - Kamsprout's Journal

Spring Four O'clock Very Happy

Wednesday, March 5, 2014
I plant five cells with 2 to 3 seeds each of Four O'clock seeds as our committee meets to begin our project.  I cover the seeds lightly with moistened soil starter since they are small seeds, but not really tiny like poppy seeds.  Instructions are to find a place during the germination period that is evenly warm with no direct light until they sprout.  So, I come home, place them in plastic bags supported with cut straws, put them on top of the china cabinet in the rarely visited dining room and promptly forget about them.  So, the conditions are dim light, temp of about 68 degrees and neglect. 

At home in dining room
Monday, March 10, 2014
I walk through the dining room and the seed trays catch my eye.  To my surprise, there are sprouts! Time to move to the kitchen with lots of light from windows and skylights.  Since the countertops are stone, therefore cold in the cold weather, I have placed them on folded towels to insulate them from bottom cold.  The cells where the plastic bag was more elevated have sprouted the most.
New home in kitchen
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Out of the plastic bags for a couple of hours.  Since a neighboring cell with a hyacinth bean seed shows a patch of possible mold, I remove the mold with a spoon and lightly mist the entire tray with a solution of fungicide diluted by half.  Back into the plastic bags.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Mamsprouts does a consult today and suggests that they may become leggy trying to reach for the skylight.  With my husband out of town, I “borrow” the Seasonal Affective Disorder ("SAD") light from his office and set up shop with it elevated about 8” above the sprouts where it stays on continuously for the next few days.

Thursday, March 13, 2014
Time for the first bottom watering.  I place the tray in a small amount of water for about five minutes.  When I remove the tray, I place it on a quadruple thickness of paper towels to drain—they are completely soaked after a few minutes, so I move them to a double thickness of paper towels to further drain.  Little further drainage, so I move them back to the towels under the SAD light,  with a plastic bag draped very loosely over the top.  They are hard to ignore in the middle of the kitchen, so now they are getting daily scrutiny.

Monday, March 17, 2014
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!  Time for some more bottom watering for my green bell flower sprouts.  And, after reading a little more, I realize that I need to give them a break from the light at nighttime.  Proof that there is some room to make mistakes along the way!  Starting to get questions from my husband about how long I plan to keep his SAD light!  At this point the sprouts are about 4 – 6” tall.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Appear to need water again.  Obviously getting thirsty more often.  It appears that the most important part of watering is sufficient draining afterward.  They are continuing to grow and appear healthy.

Sunday, March 23, 2014
I cave on the SAD light.  I purchase an Ott light at Lowe’s and move the entire operation to a counter in my laundry room with the Ott light and additional filtered light through an adjacent window.  I will be out of town for a few days, so before leaving I bottom soak the tray and drain it.  I leave a plastic bag lightly draped over the tray the entire time I am gone, trying to keep it off the sprouts themselves with plastic straws.

Under the Ott light
In the laundry room

Thursday, March 27, 2014
The plants are all happy and healthy on my return.  Today we get to take a trip to the committee meeting to see if it is time to transplant to larger containers.  We determine it is, so that is a project for this weekend.  I purchase some 3” square containers and some Scott’s seed starter mix to prepare for transplanting.  I am only moving up an inch in size so that the roots will not get water logged when I water the sprouts.

Monday, March 31, 2014
Today is transplant day.  Mamsprouts has joined me to assist in transplanting the four o'clocks to the 3" containers.  After moistening the seed starter mix and sterilizing the 3" containers, we remove and separate the sprouts from the trays.  Several sprouts are not quite ready and one has a broken stem, so we returned those to the tray to see if they would respond with more time (I pinched off the broken stem but left the remainder to see if it might come back).  The rest went into the individual containers. 

Bottom watering after transplanting to individual containers

After bottom watering and draining very well on paper towels, I returned them to the laundry room counter and positioned them under the Ott light again.  My observation after several hours was that they seemed none the worse for wear from being moved to new containers.  For the night, I again turned off the light and loosely draped plastic bags over the sprouts, held above the plants with straws.  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Checked to see how they survived the night and they appear to be doing just fine.  I really think the trick is sufficiently draining after bottom watering.  I first drained on a quadruple thickness of paper towel.  When that was thoroughly wet, I put a new double layer underneath and drained there until damp.  Finally when I moved them back to the laundry room I put a double layer of paper towels on top of the terry towels on which they are resting.

Still doing well the morning after transplanting

Monday, April 21, 2014 - Sunday, May 11, 2014
Time to move outside.  The days have warmed and the nights are not too cold, so it is time to start hardening them off.  I have moved them to a covered patio with skylights in the roof.  This should give them sufficient light while still protecting them from wind, too much sun and some nights that may still get pretty cold.  I still bottom water every few days as the soil dries out.  There are some days that they dry out a little too much, but this does not kill them and, in fact, may even strengthen them a little.  I also am watering them with a diluted solution of house plant food.  I end up leaving them in this covered area longer than I might have ordinarily because we have had an extended period of low night time temperatures this year.

April 21
May 11


They have fared well so far.  In fact, I have not lost a single plant as of yet.  Tomorrow it will be out to the garden and  I'll see how strong they really are.

Monday, May 12, 2014
Well, here they are in their new homes.  These locations receive lots of morning sun and some mid day sun.  We'll have to see how they fare now that they are no longer protected.  Some are in locations very exposed and some have the cover of plants that are next to them or a wall of the house nearby.

They do not look nearly as hardy in the garden as they did in the trays, but we will see how they do.  The straws mark the locations of the plants--and are also reminders to be careful and not accidentally weed the wee little plants!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - Monday, July 21, 2014
This is a period of what I can best describe as benign neglect.  The first few days I tried to make sure they were watered.  Then, how can I put it, but that life got in the way.  There were some periods of lots of rain, but really more very dry periods.  The plants a bit more protected from the elements either by location or nearby plants have seemed to fare the best.  They must have been hardened off pretty well before transplanting to the garden because all but the most exposed seem to have fared well.

The last picture shows the plant in the most exposed location--on a corner of the garden without protection of nearby plants or the house.  It is the only location that seemed to cause a real problem after transplanting.  The others are all thriving although none have bloomed yet.  They are all pretty leggy, but seem vigorous.

Monday, August 25, 2014
We have blooms!!  The only transplants that have bloomed and are robust are located in a northeast facing corner of the garden that is close to the stone wall of the house and close to the stone walkway.  My theory is that they have benefited from the heat radiating from the stone and the protection from the wind afforded by the house.  They have received intermittent moisture from rain, but no regular watering.  Several of the other transplants have survived but are still leggy and without blooms.


Spring/Summer 2015
What a difference a year makes!!  This spring, a few small plants appeared in the area that seemed to have the best success last year—the area adjacent to the stone of the house and the stone walkway.  None of the others returned.  However, I thought I had lost the plants in that area when they were accidentally pulled during some general weeding of my garden.  Oh well, I thought—at least I know an area that should work well for four o’clocks if I want to plant them again in the future.  Soon after, I left town for a few weeks; when I returned recently, what a surprise!!  The four o’clocks had not only survived, but exploded!  From three small plants last year, they have spread several feet, are dense and are loaded with blooms!  And, they are now dropping seeds each day into the soil and onto the stone walkway.  I am collecting seeds and they will be available to share with club members who are interested.  Other than the accidental weeding, they received no attention this season--I guess that shows what some heat, sunlight, sporadic rain and benign neglect will do!!