Idle hands and the devil

Two more snow days for the kids, another below zero (-18C) forecast, and one sunny day.  I was fine with the first two but the sunny day set off my spring fever.  Of course with snow everywhere and no other gardening options to be had I ordered more seeds.  I had to.  There’s nothing else to do and even the winter garden has me bored.

cyclamen coum in pots

Under lights the cyclamen coum are still going strong. I love the large flowers on the white with their blackberry noses, I wish a few of the others had blooms as large.

Who knows what I’ll do with all the new seeds.  They’re surplus from the N. American Rock Garden Society’s seed exchange so at 20 packets for $5 they’re what I consider practically free.  Even better when you consider the non-profit nature of NARGS, in that case 40 packets at $10 makes more sense, and when you add on the 20 packets from the American Primula Society which just arrived last week well then you might get a sense of the trouble I’m in.  I already have enough seeds stratifying in the cold to fill my beds once over, so I’m not sure where these will go.

growing seedlings under lights

The second growlight in a warmer part of the garage is in business now. A few cane begonias have been watered and potted up and two pots of plain old onion seedlings are on their way.

I still have to deal with the Annie’s Annuals catalog sitting in the kitchen.  I have it in my head that I need an eucalyptus tree for the deck this summer plus a few non-hardy yucca and some succulents.  I’m afraid that if I don’t get some snowdrops blooming soon I may yet stumble into that mess.  -I would add some delphiniums too even though each year they’re crushed by winds just as they reach their majestic peak…..  but some plants are worth a little heartbreak.

rooting coleus cuttings

Happy birthday to me. A returned gift and $40 credit at Lowes meant a new shoplight for a new spot. This one went in a warm corner of the basement and is perfect for giving new life to the sad little overwintered cuttings which have been sitting in a water filled coffee cup since October.

I should be responsible.  I already spent way too much money on snowdrops and ordered way too many irresponsible tropical bulbs from Brent and Becky’s.  Odd choice considering how much I complained about digging them up last fall.

overwintering succulents and tropicals

Overwintering succulents and tropicals fill the far corner of the barely-heated workshop/winter garden area. Dry and cool keeps them mostly dormant until warmer weather returns.

I hope an end is in sight.  Next week shows five days straight with daytime highs above the freezing point and one day when there’s even the possibility nighttime lows stay just above 32F.  Come to think of it I better start some lettuce and broccoli seedlings, in a few weeks they’ll be perfect to go out into that cold frame I never built.

oleander flower bud

A sign of promise, a flower cluster forming on the overwintering  oleander.   I think it formed last fall and hopefully will grow and develop as soon as the pot gets some water and goes outside.

So I’ll keep my fingers crossed…. if only to keep them from clicking on an ‘order now’ tab since I was looking at geraniums (pelargoniums) this afternoon and thinking a few scented and heirloom ones would be a good idea.   I need a first crocus or snowdrop bloom to get me out of this and back to my senses!  (we all know how reliable snowdrop blooms are for bringing a person back to their senses).  I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

34 comments on “Idle hands and the devil

  1. I’ll be praying for you. Changed my mind, I’ll be praying for your wife. She must be approaching sainthood by now, and it would be a pity to ruin that long run of patience with a spur-of-the-moment murder. I, too, am hanging on by my fingernails, or drowning in snow, as it were. A timely snowdrop bloom could solve a host of problems.

    • bittster says:

      My wife appreciates the prayers, she’s come through a lot with days of seed packets all over the kitchen table, coffee cups used to root cuttings, and the lonely nights when I was lost on the internet looking up unknown plants 🙂
      The warm days are what kill me. Warm sunny days with everything still covered in snow are 100% frustrating.

  2. johnvic8 says:

    I admire you (and others) for your efforts with seeds. I’ve not been able to do that because of space and gear limitations. Will be looking forward to your reporting of your future success.

    • bittster says:

      There’s not much to admire, 95% of the seeds are between damp papertowels in the fridge (one small box) or in small pots out under a blanket of snow. Hopefully they will all sprout in their own time!

  3. pbmgarden says:

    Those cyclamen look so healthy and gorgeous. You’re going to have fun when the weather lightens up a bit. Today I picked the first daffodil blossom that has opened this year because the forecast for tonight is freezing rain/sleet.

    • bittster says:

      I hope the sleet melted as soon as it fell and warmer temperatures arrive this weekend! Sometimes a single picked flower in the house is worth dozens in the garden, it’s nice having them up close.

  4. We just got another 6 inches but have warm temps forecast for next week. I’m tired of the cold! It would be great to see snowdrops but it would be fabulous to see anything green popping out of the ground! My trays and trays of seedlings are keeping me from going nuts. But I’m impressed with how much stuff you are over wintering! My coleus cuttings are still in their vases since all the space under my grow lights is taken. Must find more space….. 🙂

    • bittster says:

      Light space really is a problem isn’t it? I could fill it all now, but I know in another few weeks I’ll be slapping my forehead trying to figure out how I could be so dumb 🙂
      -not sure what happened but I found this comment in my spam folder…. hopefully it’s just a security hiccup and doesn’t happen again.

  5. AnnetteM says:

    I think you had better plan your very own plant sale once all those seeds come up. Hope your weather improves soon.

    • bittster says:

      A plant sale would be fun, but I have the feeling people wouldn’t be as impressed with my cardoon seedlings as I am 🙂
      I’ve looked through your snowdropping post a few times now on my phone (good only for reading, not commenting!) -seeing so many great snowdrop pictures is not helping my spring fever at all!

      • AnnetteM says:

        Yes it is difficult to find real enthusiastic gardeners who know what to appreciate. So sorry to make your spring fever worse – hang in there!

  6. Cathy says:

    I hope those snowdrops appear to save you soon Frank! I agree entirely that some plants are worth a little heartbreak, and will probably end up planting out lots of seedlings only to see them devoured overnight by the snails…. the fun of gardening eh?!

  7. sueturner31 says:

    I’m going to a seed swap on saturday… I have dozens of packets to take but I may come back with as many again… oh well !!

  8. Chloris says:

    Oh my goodness, so many seeds! Still we don’ t sow so many seeds and take so many cuttings because we need the plants do we? Common sense doesn’ t have anything to do with it. We do it because we can.
    I hope the snow will go soon and you can get outside.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks, I hope we see much of the snow begin to retreat next week.
      You see right through me. Need has nothing to do with it and I’m quite happy to be able to finally indulge in my seed habit 🙂

  9. Oh boy, you need a couple full weeks of school to keep you busy and away from on-line shopping! The sunshine does whet the gardening appetite, for sure, though, doesn’t it! I stuck a couple more milk-jug greenhouses outside on Weds., with spinach and oregano seeds. Have some bachelor button and snapdragon seeds on deck for the next empty jugs! Also ordered a second heat mat for indoor started seedlings today. Will have to enter negotiations with husband for another grow light in the basement. I think right above the furnace would be ideal!

    • Oh and that white cyclamen with the purple nose is indeed gorgeous!

    • bittster says:

      Ah ha! Built in bottom heat for all your young plants, smart idea.
      I’m planning on potting up a few of the smaller seeds this weekend to go outside. I put them under a clear storage tub so things don’t get splashed all over the place, same as you do I suspect but all those individual jugs would probably ‘over-investigated’ by the kids.

  10. mattb325 says:

    So many beauties! I do hope the snow melts and the weather thaws for you – I think you have had more than enough winter for one year 🙂

  11. bittster says:

    I’m about done with the cold, a nice gradual spring would suit me just fine now 🙂

  12. I salute you, sir. You are an inspiration. And if you don’t have space for all these plants in your beds, you clearly need to dig some new beds.

  13. donna213 says:

    No doubt. I always order more than I have the time and effort to spare. Bulbs are my undoing. Seeds, well, with little space the poor things are survival of the fittest. At least you have great desire, mine wanes especially in winter.

    • bittster says:

      With the increasing daylight my enthusiasm explodes! The seed starting is easy, it only takes a few minutes tops, finding room for the seedlings is the problem. I can use four or five new primula, not dozens!

  14. I also go overboard with seeds but I think you have me beat….have fun and here’s praying we can see the soil soon and get our garden fix outside.

    • bittster says:

      Yeah, this will be ugly until we can get out there to putter around. I tried today but got annoyed when I kept breaking through the crust and losing my shoe….
      -I will only have you beat seed wise if this stuff actually sprouts 🙂

  15. Kathryn says:

    Just looking at all of the plants you’re overwintering makes me so happy. Green! Alive! Budding! Good luck with the seeds. I have a couple of shipments arriving any day now, and then I’ll be in panic mode trying to get them all started.

    • bittster says:

      Ha! I had that same panic feeling Saturday. I looked at some pictures from last year and saw pansy and lettuce purchases in the first week of April. I can’t imagine the stuff I planted today will be anywhere close to plantable by April! (Assuming the snow ever melts)
      Thanks for stopping by, I’m looking forward to following your adventures this year when things start growing!

  16. Annette says:

    Huhu, seems you’re running out of space, Frank! Time to get that greenhouse, isn’t it, although it’d need to be very well insulated considering your temperatures. I know how it feels this terrible craving for spring…that’s why we moved. Bon courage, it won’t be long now and you’ll be able to run barefoot between your plants again!

    • bittster says:

      Hi Annette! We have our first snowdrops yet it may still be a while until we run barefoot through the grass. Only mud right now 🙂
      A greenhouse would be ideal, I wouldn’t even mind if it were cold. I would pick a sunny spot and curl up for a long winter nap and pretend I’m two or three zones further south!

  17. Alain says:

    Your cyclamen coum are marvellous! I have a clump outside but, living in Ontario, usually I have to remove the snow that is on top to find them all flattened but blooming away!
    I am always tempted to order some of the surplus seeds from NARGS but I can just manage the seeds I get in the first round. Good luck with all your new seeds! – Most interesting blog!

    • bittster says:

      Hi Alain, thanks for commenting. I know what you mean about only biting off as much as you can reasonably manage…. I should really learn that lesson one of these days! As it is I’m sure I’ll be stuck with trays and trays of plants I don’t need and seedlings I don’t care for as well as I should. It does get me through the winter though 🙂
      Good luck with the last few weeks of winter. I hope you’ll be admiring your own cyclamen blooms in no time at all!

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