Thursday, December 31, 2009

Planting & Plotting...

I managed to get one indoor seed tray planted yesterday with some good ol' garden sage, echinacea, boneset, and yerba del lobo. I also managed to get two outdoor nursery flats planted with arrowleaf balsamroot and compass plant. I still need to get my two remaining (indoor) seed trays planted with parsley, more clary sage, thyme, and oregano; and agave and peruvian torch cactus. In the seed tray that I planted roughly one week ago, I already have heimia, yerba del lobo, centaury, and mullein sprouts! Still waiting for the cinnamon and maravilla seeds to germinate. Can't believe that in February I already have to begin transplanting my perennials outdoors (this according to the OSU Extension's Gardening Guide, which has yet to fail me).

I am also plotting my herb garden for this spring. I still need to finish the fourth and final raised stone bed, but that hasn't stopped me from planning out what to plant in it this spring! :) At the rate I am going, all four beds will be entirely filled up this year! I may need to build a whole new herb garden to house my other plant babies over the years! :P

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Plant Babies!

It's been less than a week, and already some of my Yerba del Lobo, Heimia, and Mullein seeds have sprouted! I am really looking forward to watching the rest of my seeds germinate over the weeks! I am trying to summon up the energy to finish planting my other three germination trays (gotta stick to "The Plan" for January - see posting below), but a nasty head cold has laid me low.

Speaking of January, I am excited to begin a new (and hopefully better year). 2009 was fraught with stress and heartbreak, though it had some good times too. I am ready for an upswing though, and I just think that 2010, with its beginnings engulfed in the Blue Moon, will be just that! What good luck that a blue moon falls on New Year's Eve! To me, that simply
has to mean positive things. Traditionally, the blue moon is a time of rare occurances and mystical happenings, and is supposed to be the time (along with New Year's Eve - a fact that I find ironic) when you look back on your past accomplishments and failures, and set new goals for yourself. I figure that, based on this, the goals I set myself for 2010 (goals, mind you, not resolutions) should have the extra oomph! from the blue moon's happy glow. Ryan and I need all of the positive energy we can get!!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Plan

In an effort to become better organized than my normal chaotic gardening style, I have written up a 5-month-long schedule of planting. I only have 4 seedling heat mats, so I am constrained to germinating only as many seeds as will fit in 4 trays this winter (another reason it was wise for me to plan everything out!). Using Horizon Herbs germinating hints and the OSU Extension's Gardening Book as guides, I have devised my method of attack. While some may be surprised at the planting times of certain items, you must remember that Ruch is a strange micro-climate in Southern Oregon. We are often times warmer and drier in the winter than the surrounding communities, and cooler (by about 10 degrees!) in the summer. Previous experience has taught me that I can transplant certain species outside earlier than people in, say, Medford or Selma, can. Our climate even differs from Applegate - a mere 7 miles away! Last spring, I was able to set out my tomatoes in April and have no ill effects, whereas friends in Applegate were unable to plant theirs outside until early JUNE! So you see, Ruch is a strange little gardening vortex...
In any event, here is my To-Do List for January:

Tray 1 -
Already planted with Yerba del Lobo, Heimia, Mullein, Cinnamon, and Maravilla.
Tray 2 - Peruvian Torch Cactus and Century Plant (Agave)
Tray 3 - Parsley, Clary Sage, Echinacea, Mexican Tarragon, Boneset
Tray 4 - Garden Sage, Oregano, Thyme, Chives, Boy Choy

Direct Seed Anise & Angelica
Tray 1 - Arrowleaf Balsamroot
Tray 2 - Compass Plant
Tray 3 - Fraxinella

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

For Those Long, Cold Winter Months...

After almost three years of procrastination (yes, I am THAT good), I finally managed to make it over to the library and obtain my library card! While I was there, I discovered that the Ruch Library has quite a respectable medicinal herb section! One of the books I stumbled across, Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West, by Michael Moore, is seriously one of the best stores of knowledge I have ever seen. I read the book cover to cover, and am now biding my time until I can afford to buy all three of his books! They are a must-have for any serious (or even amateur!) herbalist! So Michael Moore is my recommended reading for this winter.

I recently put in an order for some new varieties of herb seeds to add to my ever-expanding garden this spring: Arrowleaf Balsamroot, more Chaste Tree (for landscaping around my herb garden), Greek Mullein, Compass Plant, Peruvian Torch Cactus, Heimia, European Centaury (I'm already growing yellow gentian, and just thought I'd add another bitters herb to the mix!), and Agave. I'm really looking forward to this spring, and all of my fab
ulous plants!

Speaking of plants, my cactus seedlings are doing quite well, and have started to develop their "true" leaves. I had limited germination on my Dragon Fruit cactus (still trying to figure that one out - but they did seem, out of all three, the most susceptible to mold), but my pitajaya and San pedro seeds demonstrated explosive germination. I was planning to order more Pitajaya seeds fr
om HH, but it would appear that they are currently out of stock. I'll try and post some pics of my cactus seedlings soon.

(Cactus seedlings at roughly 4 weeks)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It's a Pokey Kind of Love

Well, the cactus seed germination is through the roof! Which means YAY!: I'm not a complete and utter incompetent (this is always a good thing)! I went ahead and sowed germination tray #2 with the remaining cactus seeds. Only managed to fill up ~1/2 of the tray, so I suppose I will need to get some more cactus seeds (oh shoot! What a crying shame! *laughing*). I want to try growing Giant Saguaro from seed - there is something ironically fulfilling about the idea of growing a plant that will outlive me. So instead of raising kids, I'm raising cacti!

Today I transplanted my assorted basil, clary sage, brandywine tomato, hibiscus, and boneset sprouts into larger pots. It's so nice to have lovely green plants growing even in the dead of winter! At least I know that I will have a heck of a start on spring.

Still waiting for my pineapple tops to root. I believe my two Dragon Fruit cactus cuttings have finally rooted, and one out of three of my Selenicereus grandiflorus cuttings have rooted. No signs of life on the avocado seeds yet, but I have heard that avocados are notoriously difficult to germinate (and when they do, require a long time to sprout). We shall see...Fingers are crossed!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Apothecary Farm Holiday Song

Jingle Bells!

Suede Boots Smells!

The chicken laid
an egg.

Punkin thinks

That Zilla stinks.

And the donkeys say

"Oy Vey!"

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Well, after being absolutely terrified that I was a raging incompetent in my first attempt to raise cactus plants from seed, I now know that I have been successful! I have four confirmed cactus sprouts (1 pitajaya, 1 dragon fruit, and 2 san pedro), and three seeds that are in the process of sprouting. It's been less than a week since I planted my seeds! I used the recommended soil components, and provided both bottom heat with a heating mat as well as an overhead grow light, and plenty of humidity. I have heard that most people trying to raise cactus from seed have a problem with "dampening off" (i.e. mold), and I did as well. You have to surface sow the seedlings, as well as keep them very moist. This is unfortunately the perfect environment for mold to grow. What I did to save my seedlings was to brew a very strong batch of chamomile tea (2 cups boiling water over 1/4 cup dried chamomile flowers - cover, and allow to cool, then strain off the flowers), and sprayed my seed tray. This killed off most of the mold. However, there were still patches of it here and there. So, as none of my seedlings had yet begun to germinate, I allowed those portions of the tray to dry out for a bit (about half a day). Then, I re-dampened the soil, and voila! No more mold problems. My germination took off shortly afterward. I have heard from HH that sometimes allowing your soil to dry out and then rewetting it can help with the germination of cactus seeds.

I will post pictures as soon as my "babies" get a little larger (the macro function on my camera doesn't like to work very well).

I still want to get a few cuttings of San Pedro from Horizon Herbs...maybe after the holidays when things calm down around here?

Speaking of cactus plants, my Christmas Cacti are in full bloom right now (I have five of them scattered around the house)! I have never before possessed a Christmas Cactus plant, and I think that they are GORGEOUS! The one in the library is especially beautiful. I enjoy having them around, because in the winter time (when there are no outdoor blooms to cut and arrange in vases in the house) I can set the plants in pretty pots in guest rooms for a little color/decoration!

Aren't the flowers just beautiful?

Sunday, December 06, 2009

And the Freaky Cacti Fetish Continues...

So I am branching out and attempting to grow freaky cacti from seed. This is a whole new area of gardening that I have yet to explore, and I am pretty excited! Placed my Horizon Herbs order for seeds of three different (and fascinating!) cacti varieties:

Hylocereus undatus
(The Dragon Fruit cactus that I have mentioned in earlier posts)

Echinocereus triglochidiatus
(Also known as the Pitajaya Cactus - produces tasty fruit!)

...and the cactus that I am the most excited for...

Trichocereus pachanoi
(The San Pedro Cactus, which apparently makes a fabulous house plant!)

Here is another link with information about the San Pedro Cactus.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Year At A Close...

Hard to believe (okay, impossible, really) that the year is already almost at a close. There is so much that I wanted to accomplish, and yet ran out of time for! Even with winter hitting, I am already looking ahead to spring and planning my garden and heirloom apple orchard. This month, I need to get all of my culinary herb seeds germinating in preparation for transplanting in February (according to my OSU Extension gardening guide). In January, I need to begin getting all of my cold weather vegetable seeds germinating. January is also the month of pruning and grafting. I still need to order my omega tool and rootstocks. Ryan and I are going to put a 32-tree heirloom apple orchard in the back of the property (where George, Judge, and Winchester are currently living). We will be be using scion wood from our own 15 heirloom apples trees already found on the property (Arkansas Black, Winesap, Fireside, Cinnamon Spice, Chenango Strawberry, & Cox's Orange Pippin)), but I will also be ordering some scion wood for Ashmead's Kernal, Calville Blanc d'Hiver, Pitmaston Pineapple, Wealthy, and the White Pearmain. I am so excited to have an heirloom orchard! Besides apples, I will be planting my grape starts (that I began last February from cuttings taken from Longsword Vineyard (thanks, Matt!!)), and taking some cuttings of my heirloom roses (specifically Duchesse de Portland & Harison's Yellow), honeysuckle, and fig trees for propagating new plants. So January will be a very busy month! In February, I am already going to be direct-seeding cold weather vegetable crops into my raised beds, and tilling my large garden plot in preparation for a large scale planting in March. So much to do!...

Thinking ahead to next year makes me also ponder what goals I have in mind for 2010. I hate making New Years' resolutions, but I DO believe in setting obtainable goals for yourself for the coming year. Here is my list:

1. Increase the size of my dairy goat herd (pretty easy, since I have 5 does due in February & March - fingers are crossed for lots of girl babies!!)

2. Finish building my 4th raised bed in the herb garden

3. Finish landscaping the herb garden

4. Plant one or more fig trees over Jugi's grave

5. Have an amazing summer with the B&B business! Pay off 2 out of 3 large debts associated with moving to Oregon/getting the B&B up off of its feet

6. Get a cheese press, and have Ryan make hard cheeses for eating in Winter 2010

7. Increase yacon crop (possibly 2 separate harvests in May and November: growing my yacon indoors this winter, harvesting it in May, and then setting it out again for another harvest in November)

8. Graft 100 heirloom apple trees (and pray for a 70%+ success rate)

9. Begin landscaping the "Innkeepers' Backyard." My goal is to have it looking pretty (if not exactly finished) by the summer solstice in June, so that I can have a Solstice/BBQ party in my yard!

10. Build the outdoor dutch oven in the "Innkeepers' Backyard."

11. Increase advertising for the B&B

12. Increase types of medicinal herbs found in my herb garden

13. Grow more freaky cacti (from seed!)

14. Help Ryan to convert the larger Apothecary Suite closet into a walk-in library

15. Begin converting the Solarium into a real conservatory.

16. Finish building planter boxes for the Secret Garden & plant more grapes, etc. in that area

17. Obtain my nursery license and begin making plant sales

18. Visit my heart sister, Elaina, and her (*fingers crossed*) baby!!

19. Spend more time with my husband & appreciate the beautiful moments in life