A Little Cabin Fever

For a couple days it was warm and I quickly started a little cleanup and poked around feverishly to find every single sprouting snowdrop, but that was short-lived, and now it’s back to winter again and I’m just chomping at the bit.  The indoor winter garden has helped somewhat, and it’s probably a good idea to start off there with a few more hopeful signs of life such as my precious little primrose (Primula obconica), who is still going strong after nearly three months in flower.  Rather than this primrose becoming a one hit wonder, it’s produced two more flower stalks and the first one is still opening up new blooms.  It’s a beauty, but I may have forgotten to mention one of its common names…. poison primrose.  The name stems from the rash which sensitive skins may develop after contact with its foliage.  I find the scent of the foliage a bit yucky, but as far as rashes go it seems I’ve escaped any sensitivity issues.  That wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination though, since a quick poll around here would probably place me on the ‘insensitive’ end of the scale anyway.

primula obconica

Primula obconica from American Primrose Society seed, indoors under the workshop growlights.

I won’t bore you with every flower in bloom under the shoplights, but the geraniums must be sensing the slightly warmer temperatures and as a result are putting on more growth and sending up more flowers.  I’ll bore you with one photo, the lovely Pelargonium ‘Crystal Palace Salmon’, a healthy variegated geranium which doesn’t exactly look too salmony in the photo.

pelargonium crystal palace salmon

Pelargonium ‘Crystal Palace Salmon’, a flower which would make any geranium loving grandmother proud.

Obviously I’m getting into trouble with all this forced indoor time.  I’ve started several flats of seeds, started more and more succulent cuttings, and maybe feel that start-even-more-seeds compulsion creeping into the back of my head.  For budgeting purposes I’ll admit I ordered 40 packets of unnecessary seeds from the NARGS surplus seed round.  That set me back $14 so I’m quite all right confessing to that charge.

NARGS seed exchange

More seeds from the NARGS seed exchange.  Observant readers will add this to the 25 I had already ordered.

I’m trying all kinds of seeds again from generic annuals to obscure cacti to full sized forest trees.  There’s no question I don’t have a place in mind for nearly all of them but when has that ever been a concern?  I’m planting lotus seeds and am quite aware I have no pond to grow them in, but we’ll see what happens.  They have a long way to go before I need to worry about any space issues.

lotus seed

I wasn’t sure if I had sanded through the seed coat of these lotus seeds, so decided to crack one open for a look.  Who would have thought there would be a whole tiny lotus plant folded up inside! -and who would have thought the friggin seed coat (dark outer layer) would be so thick…

Nearly all the seed pots get a thin layer of chicken grit over the top and then go outside on the sidewalk to experience a little winter chill.  When things get warm enough they’ll sprout right up… and then need to deal with finding homes for everything.

poppy seedlings

The latest spell of warm weather has encouraged a few of the hardiest seeds to sprout.  Here are a few six packs of Opium poppies coming along.  they should be just fine as long as things don’t freeze up too solid.  The sheet of Reemay fabric protects them from the worst of the weather.

Back in February I thought we’d have plenty of time to post cheerful photos of spring beauty as it gently sprung into action and each flower followed the next, but then it snowed… and snowed… again…. and again….

snowdrops and winter aconite

Flashback to February with snowdrops and winter aconite opening up for the first of the warmer weather.

It’s still snowing.  Next week looks promising, but things have all got to thaw out again, and the earliest risers have to work out all their crushed stems and snow flattened flowers.  Hopefully by the time that happens there’s still enough energy left in them to put on a show.

snowdrops and winter aconite

More snowdrops, the green tipped ‘Viridapice’ and short ‘Sophie North’.

In the meantime I’ll stay inside and try to avoid driving everyone nuts with the amount of time I spend staring out windows and brushing aside snow looking for survivors.

sprouting lotus

I just assumed I had killed the cracked open lotus seed, but four days later it’s actually starting to grow!

At least the bird feeder is entertaining.  I was ready to call it a year and send the birds on their way, but then snow returned, covered everything up, and I got that guilty feeling.  Once I topped the feeders off the regular crew was quite happy, but they had to make a little room for the returning grackles, starlings, and red-winged blackbirds.  They’re a noisy bunch but fortunately filming through the glass spares you from most of their metallic squawks.

Hopefully the farmers out there aren’t too upset with me encouraging these blackbird pests, but I’ve always considered them just as much a sign of spring as robins and the first crocus.  Well actually the return of turkey vultures is also something I consider ‘springy’, but most people are far less entertained by the return of huge carrion-feeding birds which follow the thawing roadkill north…

May your week be enjoyable and carrion-free, and hopefully warmer and less-snowy than here 🙂

$14 for 40 packets of surplus NARGS seed exchange seed

$332 total so far for the 2018 gardening year.

32 comments on “A Little Cabin Fever

  1. That lotus seed is cool, and I hope that speck on your thumbnail is on top of your nail, and not a sliver underneath your nail! Shudder!

    • bittster says:

      No slivers! Although I did give it a good whack the other week and it’s still growing out…
      You wouldn’t happen to need a lotus seedling would you? 😉

  2. Eliza Waters says:

    Aren’t these snowstorms something? They just keep coming! I think I’ve finally reached my saturation point (I’m surprised I haven’t cracked before this). I enjoy the same signs of spring as you do, all the different birds are welcome here. Thanks to the turkey vultures our world is a cleaner (and less smelly) place. 😉

    • bittster says:

      Right! Enough with the snow! Where was it in February I ask… although it has yet to give an explanation. I hope yours doesn’t stick around too long, I suspect you have quite a bit more than we do.

  3. Tim Calkins says:

    Aren’t seeds the most fascinating things? All that potential in the wildest array of packages. I’ve done the same thing, i.e., sowing seeds that have very little likelihood of finding a real home in the garden, just to see if I could get them to grow, and then shoehorning them in somewhere (with sometimes pleasantly surprising results). Great fun at a relatively low price, if you can escape the guilt of sending so many to an unfortunate end.

    • bittster says:

      Glad to hear I’m in good company!
      My most exciting adventure this year are the fern spores. There’s something going on in there and I’m pretty sure it’s not just a mess of algae. I’ve probably achieved one of the easiest things ever, but to me I feel like I climbed Mount Everest.
      Of course I have no idea where in the garden they’ll go, but apparently it is a drought resistant native fern, so maybe I can talk you into one or two 🙂

  4. March Picker says:

    Spring IS heading our way, and with it comes the overwhelming number of garden tasks. Enjoy the break as long as possible! 🙂

    • bittster says:

      Haha, I know what you mean, but unfortunately when spring comes later it comes all at once and it’s even worse getting anything done! Regardless, it’s still my favorite season by far.

  5. Pauline says:

    I do hope your snow soon goes and doesn’t return. We have been told that we have more snow on its way here for next weekend, hopefully it might miss us. I can understand your frustration! Love your Lotus seed, it seems determined to live!

    • bittster says:

      Oh no, I can’t believe you’re expecting even more snow! I don’t remember you getting much more than a hard frost in other winters. I hope the forecast changes and spring returns for good.

  6. Chloris says:

    Awful the way this snow hangs on. We have been threatened with more to come too. Meanwhile we have biblical quantities of rain. Snowdrops, hellebores and seed sowing are all we have to keep from climbing the walls. Oh I must try that lotus seed trick.

    • bittster says:

      Thank goodness you have that greenhouse to escape into, I can imagine the rain driving you insane otherwise. Hope that snow doesn’t come around. I think we’ve all been through enough.

  7. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I have seen many a lotus seed but never thought to open one. How interesting. Can’t wait to see your poppies abloom. Hang in there. Spring will arrive on the back of some of those birds and tumble into your garden to stay. Hasn’t this been the coldest March in some time?? According to my records it has been. ugh…

    • bittster says:

      I guess it just amazed me that the seed embryo would be so well developed. I always think of seeds as these magic little capsules that just barely come to life if everything works out just right, not these aggressive looking things that come to life with just a little water! I guess I should have studied up a little more in biology.
      Yeah, I’m done with this cold. Here the weather looks about average, but after how warm last month was this snow is turning into a drag…

  8. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Thank you, Mr. Hitchcock, for that lovely bird video. Your visitors do look happy to have found your feeders. Forgetfulness really helps with the garden budget thing – I was thinking that your total was now $14.00. That lotus seed is fascinating.

    • bittster says:

      I was imagining Hitchcock as well. I think he would have been pleased with the effect 🙂
      I have a few more budget items to admit to in the next few weeks. I try to forget them but then the credit card statement comes and there’s no denying…

  9. I have seen naturalized lotus in ponds in Wisconsin but did not manage to keep it alive myself. March makes me crazy with the on again/off again winter weather. Yesterday it was sunny for 5 minutes then snow squalls for the next 5 or 10 minutes. Warmer daytime temps coming but still below freezing at night, though come to think of it that is pretty normal. Love your indoor flowers.

    • bittster says:

      The last time I got a lotus seedling to sprout it grew without a second thought… until I killed it with my careless optimism over winter. This year I’m sure things will be different 😉
      The sun has been trying lately, but we keep getting these ridiculous snowstorms coming through! Better now than April, I guess that’s a plus…. unless we get them in April as well.

  10. Alain says:

    From what I can see, you are getting a lot more snow than us (I am sure you would want us to keep it!). We have been warmer than usual since the end of January.

    • bittster says:

      Overall it’s been a very lackluster winter with only one frigid spell in January. The snow looks impressive, but even now it’s not even that cold at night, so I still prefer this over one of those polar vortex winters. Who knows what April will bring though…

  11. It snowed here yesterday, but whatever accumulated already gone. I have mixed feelings about Grackles. They are rather handsome, in a bad boy sort of way. To me they look like they are wearing leather jackets. They really should have tiny motorcycles to ride.

    • bittster says:

      I don’t think they’d look at all out of place on a motorcycle. They’re loud and pushy at the feeder but don’t seem to bother the other birds at all. The sparrows just avoid eye contact and keep going about their own business until the grackles move on.

  12. Indie says:

    I sure understand the cabin fever! It just seems like winter will never kick the bucket the way it’s been going. I love your flowers under the grow lights, and how awesome is that lotus seed! I put some seeds in under row covers in the veggie garden, but who knows what is going on at the moment under all that snow!

    • bittster says:

      I need to make the call on the vegetables. Last year there were only a few and this year Im really eyeing all the space out there for flowers. Nothing is planted yet, but I feel guilty about not having a few lettuce plants coming along!
      Hope your snow is on the way out…

  13. Christina says:

    I understand your cabin fever completely – we only had 3 or 4 days of snow on the ground and I was stir crazy after 2. Of course I was actually snowed in for 2 of the days and couldn’t get out even if I’d wanted to. Your winter indoor garden has inspired me to create a place where I can grow a few things.

    • bittster says:

      I’m with you. I get stir crazy pretty quick when I can’t get out into the garden!
      I’m hoping it warms up and things explode into color, but on the other hand I want it to last… it’s been such a long wait.

  14. Dee says:

    I gasped a little at that little lotus plant. I truly did. I find seeds full of wonder. I loved this post btw. So much like what I’m doing here along with the never-ending cleanup (which you’ll soon be doing too.) Here’s to no more snow!

    • bittster says:

      The last of the snow melted Friday and I finally cleaned up the last corner of the front yard yesterday. It’s not the best job but for the first time ever I was wondering if maybe I should consider a lower maintenance garden…
      Happy Easter!

  15. The ‘finding homes for everything’ problem is big here, so I am forced (by my husband) to cut back this year. Anyway, you are so much more ambitious than me, Frank, with your early gardening activities. This awful, prolonged snowy, cold weather is holding me back too. That lotus plant is fascinating! Who knew? P. x

    • bittster says:

      I practically burst out of the door once the snow was melted and I could finally start cleanup, but after a few days I was wondering if I should consider a few lower maintenance plantings… and then I realized there were a ton of seeds I still wanted to plant 😉

  16. Thanks for the heads-up on the Potentially Perilous Primrose! Considering my experience with the Killer Viburnum, I’m probably one of those who would react to it. (But it looks so sweet and innocent, she says..) As for next week’s storm, I think/hope that our area will get mostly rain. The date I worry more about is the 26th and/or 27th because those are the yet-again-rescheduled days for the installation of the new potting shed. The last 2 storms have put it off twice already, so you have been warned!

    • bittster says:

      We made it through the last storm without much of a problem, but I see a forecast sow shower tomorrow morning. It will melt quickly but I’m 100% done with looking at white stuff!
      I resorted to purchasing a species peony seedling. My seed starting always has something going wrong, so maybe this will be a sure thing!

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