Friday, March 13, 2015

Seedlings for Spring

How is spring in your neighbourhood?  It is looking nice here, but we really need to be gifted with some moisture from the sky.  The forestry departments are already doing their "preventative burns" and the ground is dry.
Spring in the "rock garden"
Red Tailed Hawk in Summerland, BC
As of last weekend, it suddenly felt more like spring here.  The temperatures have risen into light-jacket-weather and the spring bulbs are starting to come up.  There is a population of 4 or 5 red tail hawks in our neighbourhood, which is probably beneficial to the orchards and terrifying to the mice.  They enjoy perching in the beetle-killed pine trees and soaring high in the sky above our house.

Seedlings in the sunroom
I have been planting seeds obtained from far and wide.  Many are drought-tolerant perennials, including several native plants that thrive in the hot and dry Okanagan summers.  I like the unique seeds of the Canadian company Gardens North, but have also purchased online from Germany and California and the local hardware stores. 

In the quest to attract butterflies and help "save the monarchs", I plan to grow a few varieties of milkweed.  I germinated and planted some orange-flowered Asclepias tuberosa last summer (haven't yet flowered), and have seedlings of Asclepia curassavica (the tropical milkweed) and  yellow-flowered Asclepias tuberosa growing in the sunroom.  The tropical milkweed likely will not survive the winter as a perennial, but will likely set seed an an annual, so the species may persist in our yard (and hopefully not take over).  The native Showy milkweed, Asclepias speciosa, is growing wild on scrubby slopes across the street from our house,
Plants in the sunroom
confirming its ease in colonizing our area.  Interestingly, Asclepias speciosa is also on the BC noxious weeds list, though this likely related to it being poisonous to grazing livestock.

My sunroom is getting filled with plants and the vegetables aren't even started yet!  I hold out hope that the hardy perennials can move outside in a few weeks and that will make room for MORE SEEDLINGS!  As you can see, I have supplemental LED grow lights (more on these on my LED page) that lengthen the day and provide some bloom-promoting red spectrum light to the orchids.  I am searching out new shapes and types of inexpensive LED grow lights and finding that
First crocus leaves

this field is quite new and mostly caters to the growers of "medicinal plants" that I am not particularly interested in.

The crocus leaves have been poking out of the ground for 5 days now.  I can't wait to see flowers!  I planted these bulbs last fall, the first bulbs in this newly-established landscaping.  The flowers will look sparse this year, but I will look forward to clusters of spring color in years to come.

Our pet dog, a husky-malamute cross, is enjoying the increased human outdoor activity.  She's following us around the yard and exchanging dog-greetings with the neighbor dogs.  We are fortunate that she doesn't have much interest in digging up our plants.  She only digs occasionally in wild areas, and likely only to follow a burrowing rodent.
Kona, the husky-malamute

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