Tuesday, April 29, 2008

oeschberg amaranthus, amaranthus oeschberg

This packet of amaranth came with 13,500 seeds. Really.

Seeds are new this year to me, and it could still be a bit of a wash, but with 13,500 seeds I may as well take the Mrs. Amaranth-seed approach and scatter, scatter, scatter.

I potted them up in old soda bottles, a la mr. brown thumb's ghetto greenhouse, along with a few other seeds.
Roughly two weeks later and they look pretty good. The seedlings already have a deep red tinge to their leaves:

Now comes the hard part. The few times in the past I attempted growing from seed, I usually reached the germination and tiny little seedling stage.
Then something happens.
Once it was rot, a few times an inexplicable wilt.
Usually it could be connected to neglect on my part, but sometimes it was a mystery.
So I'm trying again this year. Here's my recipe:
ghetto greenhouse
some peat pots
(both in a tray that can hold water)
warm on kitchen radiator
damp damp damp
spritz spritz spritz
move to sunny back porch
take lids off
bless with more spritz spritz spritz

If any actually bloom this year, I'll be happy. If not, I may have to stoop to artificial lights and the rest of the deal.

Friday, April 18, 2008

April 14th, Part 2

Even though I feel this is really a partial picking, one blossom at a time, it still counts.  Right?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

April 14th, 2008

This is the day of the partial picking of the hyacinth.  Photos to follow soon. 

Thursday, April 3, 2008

People like trees

and sumac even.

It is spring break, a really welcome one. But there is something to be said for the lace work of bare branches. Granted, it's usually against a pervasive concrete sky, but still...
I was out on a ride to gather more of something for pre-planting prep work; (worm poop, pots, bulbs, pea gravel, it's endless really), and I couldn't help but feel I needed to document the bareness. It's stark and bleak and I'll be so happy to see some color soon, but the silhouettes were really getting to me.

I did tromp around in the muck and found a few breaks in the beige (taupe?) of the back yard.

If I knew how to add those cute arrows I'd have them pointing to the green pointy bits poking out of the leaf litter. Those are some purple hyacinths I found half-dead and on sale at the big box last June and threw them in. It really shouldn't surprise me that it's the throwaways that seem to make it more than the pricey, tastefully considered ones. But it does.

I'm not all that crazy about hyacinths, but they've become a harbinger, or a bone of contention, depending on my mood.
Somebody planted a large white(?) hyacinth in the front of the house, right by the sidewalk. It's always the first thing up, and I know it's really spring when it disappears.
It always gets picked right before its color blooms. Every year. I should note the date and place bets, like people in Alaska watching the ice breaks.
So rather than bemoan the pitfalls of urban gardening, I will pick my own purple ones under lock and key, and savor the scent, and probably decide I'm not all that crazy about hyacinths.

One more harbinger to be...

My first water barrel is ice free. Not the prettiest, but think of the joy one can have manipulating the water cycle for fun and profit.

I bought it through a city program ($40-ish) last fall and now that our porch is re-built, the best contractor in the world put the finishing touches on a once-straight gutter for me, and thar she blows!
I hooked up the soaker hose at the top because it was already full, but judging by the other spout and the spigot I'll have many watering options this summer. For free!
Here's the link: http://egov.cityofchicago.org/city/webportal/portalContentItemAction.do?BV_SessionID=@@@@0530326553.1207261639@@@@&BV_EngineID=cccdadedkefkjgdcefecelldffhdfgk.0&contentOID=536925773&contenTypeName=COC_EDITORIAL&topChannelName=Dept&channelId=0&entityName=Environment&deptMainCategoryOID=-536887205&blockName=Environment%2FRecycling%2FI+Want+To