Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I Am Robot Queen of the Seedling Things!

It's official: I have my first cinnamon (tree) sprout! I planted 10 seeds roughly 3 weeks ago, and this morning I discovered my first seedling! I feel all-powerful now! *grin* I have always told myself that if I could grow cinnamon then I could grow just about anything! My final step to achieving this will be if my yellow gentian seeds germinate this spring. Should that occur, I think I may squeal with glee. Yellow Gentian is notoriously hard to grow from seed, but it is also the most sought-after of all of the bitters herbs. I have planted my gentian seeds in outdoor nursery flats (along with my Burning Bush, Arrowleaf Balsamroot, and Compass Plant), in order to give them the necessary cold stratification that they require for germination. I have heard that cinnamon seeds can be difficult to germinate due to a low natural viability. I have no idea if this is true or not, but I DO know that they require very high temperatures to germinate. Thankfully, with my grow lights and heat mats, I was able to provide this. And thank you also to Horizon Herbs for the opportunity to try my hand at germinating cinnamon seeds!!

I finished my spring herb seed order for the 2010 gardening year. Ryan and I have nearly completed my formal herb garden. We have begun moving loads of rock for the 4th and final raised bed; I have just about finished spreading layer upon layer of mulch in the walkways (it's a constant battle to smother the weeds); and my family has helped me to plant 3 of 4 fig trees over the center marker that is Jugi's grave (which forms the core of the garden - I feel that is fitting tribute for my beloved "Foo"). Last year, I planted some of the raised beds with madder, licorice, bloodroot, comfrey, valerian, arnica, skullcap, mexican tarragon, echinacea, four varieties of sages, chives, lavendar, several different mints, epazote, angelica, feverfew, horehound, lemon balm, elecampane, and more! My new additions for the herb garden this year include:

Agrimony, Anise, Betany, Borage, Burdock, Moldavian Dragon's Head, Gravel Root, Wormwood, Blue Vervain, Baical Skullcap, Evening Primrose, Mexican Marigold, Yellow Dock, Grindelia, Passionflower, Costmary, Yerba Mansa, Goldenrod, Astragalus, Yarrow, and Stinging Nettles. Of course I always plant the normal annuals too: Basils, Calendula, Coriander, etc.

With the new garden additions, I tried to focus heavily on herbs that had a reputation for helping with problems relating to chronic coughs and infections of the urinary tract, which certain members of this family are prone to suffering from. The nice thing about planning your own medicinal herb garden is that you can tailor it to suit your own family's needs! For more information on the medicinal properties of many of my herbs, I recommend reading Michael Moore's book, "Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West."

In the meantime, I already have a spare guest room FULL of seed germination trays just brimming with sprouts (and some established plants)! They are merely waiting until March when I will begin transplanting them outdoors. Currently contained in the "Green Room" are: Hibiscus (which is actually going to end up being a houseplant), Mbuluki (another houseplant), Brandywine tomatoes, a variety of basils (this batch is really for winter culinary use, but if they make it until spring then I will plant them outside), agrimony, marshmallow, heimia, Cinnamon (another houseplant during the winter anyway), Maravilla, Boneset, Empress Tree, Yacon, Desert Willow, Chaste Tree, Echinacea Purpurea, Yerba del Lobo, Clary Sage, Garden Sage, Licorice, Greek Oregano, Thyme, Italian Parsley, Greek Mullein, Centaury, Mexican Tarragon (I plan to grow a great deal of this because I LOVE cooking with it!), San Pedro cactus/Pitaya Cactus/Dragon Fruit Cactus/Peruvian Torch Cactus (all houseplants), Agave, and more!

I also visited a friend's vineyard yesterday and collected many many chardonnay grape cuttings, so today I am in the process of potting them all up. Ryan pruned our own wine & table grapes this past weekend, and there is another huge pile of cuttings waiting for me to plant them. So many projects! The grape cuttings that I started LAST winter are now ready for transplanting. I have been putting them along the fence lines in the formal herb garden - I figured that this was an excellent way to cover an ugly fence AND provide delicious fruit during the year! I noticed with my year-old grape cuttings that I had terrible success on the batches I potted WITHOUT rooting hormone. On the batches where rooting hormone was used, I had a very high (70%+) success rate. However, overall, the grape cuttings that I planted in the ground had a 100% success rate, and had the best and LARGEST establishments of roots. If I had the space, I would plant ALL of my grape cuttings in the ground, and then dig them up the following winter. This seems to be the best road to success. Unfortunately, not possessing the space for planting 300 grape cuttings in the ground, I am limited mainly to gallon pots. I try to place between 12 and 18 grape cuttings per pot, as grapes seem to be social plants who do better when housed in large numbers.

No comments: