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STARTING BULBS INDOORS
It remains cool here in Gloucester, VA but looks like we may have ‘turned the corner’ and it may warm up soon – thank goodness! But in the areas where the weather continues to ‘see-saw’ and remain unstable, we have had questions about starting bulbs indoors and which way is best. Here are some hints:
1. If you are starting lilies or gladiolus, choose deep pots because lilies make stem roots and having those stem-roots below the surface of the soil helps to keep the lilies standing when their huge flower heads form. Gladiolus also have a tendency to flop over if not planted deeply enough, so planting them in deep pots will also help them to stand up once they bloom in the garden.
2. No matter what you are starting, most summer bulbs benefit from bottom heat to get them going, so a heat mat under the pots will encourage their roots to emerge and the plant to begin to grow. Heat mats specifically for this purpose can be found at a good garden center. Here is one we offer in our catalogue.
3. If a plant doesn’t have enough light – that means daylight hours – they will ‘search’ for light, elongating their stems looking for the light. That’s the reason many plant get really tall when they are grown indoors. A ‘grow light’, which often comes with a stand especially created for growing plants indoors, helps give them enough light to keep the plants compact. If you start plants indoors often, acquiring one of the grow lights and stands may be worth the investment. I think most good garden centers have those available.
4. Once the weather is stable, you can then transplant the individual pots of bulbs to your garden much the way you’d transplant a perennial.
Good luck with this project.
GETTING HEALTHIER IN THE GARDEN
Yes, it has been a LONG, COLD WINTER and we have been STUCK INDOORS! Those of you who have had a lot of snow have gotten a ton of exercise from shoveling and bless your hearts for surviving through it all! We in the mid-Atlantic coastal states have not! The most exercise we got is from running to the car or to the building through driving, super cold rain or tippy-toeing across the ice! Now we are looking at our untoned bodies AND our gardens which are in need of help but NO ONE HAS TIME TO EXERCISE AND GARDEN!!! Exercise will help tone our muscles, creating more mass, which the experts say helps us live longer. We at Brent and Becky’s Bulbs think that one can get some good exercise AND help clean up the garden at the same time. While no one here is trained in the medical or physical therapy world, we do know that being outdoors, bending and stretching, if done carefully, helps keep our joints ‘well-oiled’ and our bodies more flexible, as long as we don’t overdo any one muscle group. We have also heard from the experts that getting our hands in the soil where beneficial bacteria reside help to improve our immune system. Here is a little video that we put together with thoughts about why we think being outdoors, stretching, bending and gardening will help us live longer, healthier lives. See our latest video on this here.
FRIEND OF THE GARDEN
We have so many people that we have become attached to because of their relationship with us and our gardens. Some are gardeners; some are artists and some are both. I’m not an artist and I have SUCH admiration for artists who actually use their talent so the rest of us can enjoy their creations, helping us to smile! One such person is one that I have never met! Brent met him at a conference and Brent shared with him my vision for this garden. He decided he wanted to contribute one of his creations to help with the message of ‘gardening WITH nature as opposed to AGAINST nature’. Because my garden used to be a big field where corn, wheat and soybeans were grown, there are ditches left by the previous farmer. In those ditches, cattails grow freely, so our friend, ‘Hap’, created a beautiful sculpture made of iron with cattails and with an amazing dragonfly! Here are images of his creation.
If you come here to see the garden, you will find this right at the end of the Chesapeake Lounge Garden and right across from the Rock Garden. I had a lady tell me yesterday when I pointed it out to her that she had admired it before but didn’t realize that they were not real! Wow, what a compliment!
If you would like to get in touch with ‘Hap’, his phone # is 631/466-2075
Maybe you were part of the generation that experienced the phrase “Psych!” more than you ever wanted. For example: “Hey, look, your fly’s down….PSYCH!” It was the cooler, more modern, yet still immature way of saying “Made ya look”.
The definition of being psyched out is “to get excited enough to temporarily lose mental control”. Between you and me and the fence post, I never quite liked being psyched out. But using certain bulbs properly can cause you to be psyched out in a pleasing way by allowing them to play with your senses. In this case, we’ll talk about how they psyche out your eyes.
It’s true that most people are never satisfied. The grass is always greener. When it’s winter, you can’t wait for summer. When it’s summer you can’t wait for winter. The same is true for some gardeners who have all sun. They wish they had shade. Or gardeners with full shade want full sun. But, you can create these little pockets of shadow and even highlight an area with brightness with your bulbs and plants. Let’s see an example:
This is the dark, almost merlot colored Oxalis regnellii var. triangularis with its delicate and bright pink flowers “psyching out” your eyes and creating the look of shadow amidst this small garden of mainly light colored plants. It makes this shrub look slightly taller and limbed up as it seems to be acting as the shade created by the shrub’s height. And the flowers create little pink stars that shine out of the darkness.
This is Caladium candidum Sr. planted along the base of a tree that provides a lot of actual shade, and the dark mulch and dead leaves under it make this darkness more pronounced. But, “psych”, the brightness prevails as the Caladium seems to be plugged into a 110 outlet, glowing and easily upstaging the tree as the focal point of this corner garden!
Here are a couple of chairs in one of the few places in our Chesapeake Bay Friendly Gardens that actually has shade for you to enjoy. In the bed behind it are the darker Caladiums ‘Kathleen’, ‘Red Flash’ and others. Left as it is, this dark spot would hardly be noticed, possibly having you miss the fact that two dark chairs are under this cover. But with the addition of the lighter Caladiums ‘Candyland’, ‘White Diamond’ and, again, Candidum Sr., an illusion of light draws your attention and brightens up this otherwise dark area.
Most Caladiums do well in the shade, but only the light colored ones really should stay in the shade or they’ll burn. Think of it this way, darker skinned people don’t sunburn as easily as fair skinned folks. Same with Caladiums. So, it’s great to combine varieties of them into the shade to emphasize the dark area or brighten it up at the same time! Here are a number of varieties playing havoc with your senses! Shown here are ‘Florida Red Ruffles’ (far upper right), candidum Sr. (brightest spot), ‘Kathleen’ (side right), ‘Red Flash’ (close up), and others creating dark spaces that are contrasted by the bright leaves around it. ‘Red Flash’ plays both roles with its dark green leaves with deep red veins and it’s bright white spots that, just like the Oxalis above, seem to create a starry illusion amongst the darkness.
So, the next time you’re walking around the garden, look for dark spaces that could use a bit of brightness or a bright area that could use the contrast of a dark leafed or flowered plant. Then sit back and get yourself psyched up about the show you’ll see!
When we think of planting edibles in the late Summer or Fall, we often think of kale, collards, lettuces, spinach, turnips or broccoli. These are staples of the now healthier American diet and great ways to stimulate your palate in the cooler months! But there is another fall planted “edible” that you can enjoy in the Spring. And we bet you’ve never eaten it before!
Yes, tulips. More specifically the petals, as the bulbs can turn your stomach and don’t taste very good at all (so we’re told). Even though during desperate times in history, people did eat the tulip bulb as a potato alternative and even as a flour alternative, it’s nasty and it is recommended that you just leave the bulb alone. But go for the petals!
Edible flowers are not uncommon, but tulips are rarely used. If you’re a fan of sweet peas, try a tulip petal one day. The more fragrant, the better. If you have used chemical fertilizers, it’s best to wash them thoroughly, but if you garden “green” like we do, just grab a petal and taste it. Its slightly sweet like a pea and a tiny bit “earthy”…like a pea! Use them as garnishes or chopped into salads. Or imagine a tray of “Indian Summer” tulip petals (shown above) laying down like little cups, holding a “schmear” (if we may use the word) of hummus or salmon spread, garnished with 2 small chive sprigs or some fine chopped green pepper or smoked paprika. Trust us here, you guests will not forget the first time they had tulip! And, for your Spring gatherings, there’s no better way to say “Spring has arrived”!
Let us know how you have used tulips petals as parts of your meals! But first, you have to remember to get them in the ground! Check here if you haven’t yet…