You are looking at one of this year’s serendipitous brainstorms. I feel perhaps a little bit too genius for coming up with it, when really, it’s just an enamel colander filled with ‘Sea of Red’ cutting lettuce and hanging in a wire basket. I quite like it. So much so that I haven’t had the heart to harvest it! Yet.
Here’s how this happy marriage came about. I had this heavy wire hanging basket sitting around, going unused. It’s the sort that is typically lined with coir, which is fine in most gardens but hard to keep hydrated on a hot and sunny roof. While, I’ve found it difficult to use as-is, I’ve kept the basket waiting for a new use to present itself. Despite the issue with hydration, stylishly understated and black hanging baskets made of a sturdy materials are hard to come by so I wasn’t about to get rid of it.
I bought the colander at a local secondhand store with the expressed purpose of growing greens in it. I liked the pairing of butter cream with bright red trim. The holes are small enough to hold soil without adding an extra liner, and the drainage they provide is perfect for growing small greens or herbs.
Once I had planted up the colander, I thought it might be better served sitting up off the ground. Low and behold it fit perfectly inside the otherwise useless wire basket. As an added bonus our digging mammal visitors (squirrels, raccoons, etc) have not been able to get at it, while a second pot of ‘Sea of Red’ cutting lettuce has been dug up several times over the season.
Incidentally, I have experimented with this particular variety by growing the heads spaced at a distance from one another and tightly clustered as you see it here. I prefer it grown together and like the way the spear-like leaves create a literal sea of rich, mahogany that lights up when the sun hits it just so. It’s as satisfying to look at as any flower basket I have grown and I might even eat it for lunch sometime soon before the plants bolt.
This dainty little double-flowered aquilegia is a self-seeder over at my community garden. I’m not sure of it’s origin — we first noticed it years back and have been encouraging it to keep going ever since. Encouragement, when it comes to aquilegia is a breeze — it amounts to nothing more than transplanting them into safer spots away from high traffic areas and allowing them to produce seed pods. The plants do the rest. I have never started aquilegia seed indoors as some instructions suggest. They need a cold period to germinate, so it makes more sense and much less work to simply toss the seeds onto the soil in the fall and wait for them to pop up on their own when it warms up in the spring.
I have three types of columbine growing among the violets and wild garlic in the shadier side of my community garden plot, but I think this one is my favourite of the lot. I recently purchased seed for another ruffly, double, pink variety called ‘Pink Tower.’
This from a female who refused to make any associations with the colour pink for the first 30 years of her life.
These Lady’s-Slipper orchids are currently in bloom in my friend Barry’s garden. If you can make it to his garden open house this weekend you’ll get a chance to see these and a few other species in person.
When we think of orchids, we tend to think of those finicky tropical flowers that are so often difficult to grow without the benefit of a heated greenhouse. Amazingly, some species of Cypripediums are cold hardy and even fewer still are native to the so-called cold north. You can still find them growing in woodland habitats in protected parks across this part of North America. I was lucky enough to catch one in bloom on a trip to Lake Huron several years back. I didn’t even have to go out to a protected spot — the plant was growing in the lot behind our cottage!
I seem to like every spring-blooming flower within this genus. They have an elegance about them that I find appealing.
The first new radishes have been making their way into our salads over the last week — what a treat! First up is ‘Sparkler’, a tender, two-toned variety that reminds me of a flattened ‘French Breakfast.’ The later is long and elegant but only appropriate for the very deepest containers, while ‘Sparkler’ is short and squat, perfect for window boxes and smaller pots.
The trick to growing tender radishes in pots is to keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Dry soil turns out small, woody radishes. Deeper containers are easier to keep moist. If you are having trouble growing decent radishes, try supersizing your container and growing a smaller variety.
This year I am experimenting with a big wash basin that is about 8 1/2″ deep by 18″ wide. I made lots of holes in the bottom of the container with a big nail and a hammer before filling it with potting soil. I then planted the seeds in concentric circles within the container, spaced about 2 inches apart so the radishes would have room to grow. Approximately 20 or so radishes can grow in there at one time — I could have fit a few more had I not sown a patch of wild arugula in the center for the heck of it.
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