August 31, 2019

A Good Day

 Fall planting is moving forward! A quick trip to Lowe’s and the Valley Nursery this past week resulted in several new specimens to add to my perennial cutting beds. Yes, I had to stop myself from finding places for them in my flowerbeds around the house! It’s hard to fight those gardening instincts!

I was able to get some planted yesterday, before my little one was done being outside, and this morning in the cool of the day, I got the rest divided and in. Yay!

I still need to find a companion shrub for this one, to put on the other side of our walkway. Alas, I did not look for shrubs this time around.

I decided to plant my perennial rows by color. I’m excited about it! My growing space is limited, and even if I had the market for—say 50 white echinacea plants’ worth of flowers, I wouldn’t have the space to put them in! I need more of a variety, in both colors and flowers to make the best use of my space. However, just 3 or 5 of one thing doesn’t come close to filling up the whole row. That’s where my brainstorm came in.

Planting by color will mean I will always know right where to put new acquisitions, for one thing. For floral designing, it will be helpful to see everything I have in a certain color. Brides usually want certain colors, but may be less concerned about specific flowers used. In my everyday arrangements it should make it easier to visualize what will go well together. I am also hoping it will help with diseases and pests to have more diversity in each row. Since these are perennials, that means they won’t get rotated, so anything I can do to throw off the critters will be helpful.

So, with what I purchased this week, I started a white row and a pink row. I bought 5 white echinacea, 3 ‘Summerwine’ Yarrow in pink, and 1 container of ‘Millenium’ garlic—which is the variety of allium I’ve been looking for online with no success! It’s funny that they called it “garlic” on the tag. Anyway, that’s pink as well, so I got all the small bulbs separated and planted out next to the yarrow.

When it comes to purchasing plants, here’s the price hierarchy:

FREE! Divide your own plants, scatter seeds and hope they come up next year, or gifts from neighbors, friends, and family.

CHEAP: purchase and start your own seeds ** It must be noted here—buying plants as seeds and growing them yourself only saves you money if you’re good at it! ** You do have to factor in the cost of purchasing a grow light setup as well. So maybe this should be “Cheap after the first couple of years.” Again, IF you’re good at it (or become so!)

PRETTY CHEAP: Purchase plugs. This is where you let someone else start the seeds for you, then you buy the baby plants and plunk them in the ground and take all the credit! As mentioned, my limited space makes this a hard option to go for, since plug trays usually contain somewhere between 50-72 seedlings. Also, they are most often all one variety, which is prohibitive for me as well.

NOT CHEAP: Purchase plants from your local retail store or nursery: Lowe’s, Home Depot, and even Walmart all have plant sections. Although this is the most expensive option, the benefit is that you come home with a good-sized plant to begin with, for instant impact and often useable flowers. Also, look for sales!

I decided this fall to give myself some breathing room as I continue to learn how to start seeds and keep baby plants alive. A buffer zone, if you will, of already productive perennial plants. In other words, I’ve got some money allocated for buying plants from the hardware stores and such.

I will be watching for end of season sales, of course, but I have another trick for getting my money’s worth with these deals:

Most perennial pots sold have more than one plant in the pot.

Did you know that? So you can separate them and plant each individual clump, which brings the cost per plant down considerably.

You can see here what I mean—see those 2 very distinct clumps? Each one can be planted separately!

For example, I purchased 5 ‘Pow Wow White’ echinacea plants this week. As I was digging the holes for them, I noticed that each one had at least 2 distinct plants in the pot. I made a shallow slice across the top, between the two, with my soil knife to get things started, then slowly pulled them apart. Each one was $8 to begin with, but now I have 10 plants out there, bringing it down to $4/ plant. I possibly could have separated them further, but the bigger clumps tend to survive much better. I was quite happy with that!

Here are the 2 separated and ready to plant!

[Side note: I’m thinking this may be part of my problem with the seed starting—maybe I am too eager to get those babies divided and into their own pots, when they would be better off growing big with some neighbors in there too! Hmm…something to think about.]

There were some poofy-headed “cantaloupe” echinacea that were twice as much as the white, which I didn’t buy. Now I wish I had checked the pots more closely to see how many clumps there were. If there were at least 3 per pot that would bring the price down to compare with the others.

Harvesting Bells of Ireland Seeds

Part 2 of the outside projects today was to harvest Bells of Ireland seeds. My patch has been ivory colored and dry for a couple of weeks now. I finally got out there today to take care of it! My darling children helped some as well.

2 trays full!

I had my gloves on due to the spines, and put as many of the actual Bells in to my trays as I could. The more dry the plant, the easier those Bells popped off! I filled 2 trays with them. I didn’t take the time today to pop all those little seeds out of the Bells, but that may happen in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, there were plenty that just fell down to the ground in this process, so I have no fears that my Bells patch will live strong again for another year!

Clearing the Bells patch and getting some beautiful flowers into the ground. #winning

How was your day today?

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