Amaranthus, decorative types

Amaranthus Ponytails
Amaranthus Ponytails

I am playing with decorative amaranths this year.  I would really like to find a US source for “Ponytails”, see left, but none of the major seed companies seem to carry it in the US.  T&M does but not in the US, evidently.  Last year I ordered online and they said they had problems with the seed and I didn’t get them.  They are similar to what I’ve seen with “Love lies Bleeding”, but while that variety is chenille rope-like, the Ponytails in this picture, from Jardin des Plants in Paris many years ago, was more like chenille balls on a rope.  And I have seen some web locations that seem to believe that LLB and Ponytails are the same so I’m reluctant to try an unknown source.  Oh well, enough about the “one that got away”.  So far.  And if LLB and Ponytails are really the same thing, I’m starting some LLB and may find out.

My trial with Love lies Bleeding and Joseph’s Coat last year was without success, almost nothing germinated and what did, didn’t live to be planted outdoors .  This year I did more reading and saw a reference that they liked bottom heat.  I was using a combination of last year’s seed and some new varieties that I purchased fresh so I used several seeds in every cell and started them over a heat mat.  I think I got 100% germination from both sets of seeds!  Here are the varieties:

  • Cinco de Mayo
  • Love lies Bleeding
  • Tricolor Early Splendor
  • Joesph’s Coat

Here’s a picture of my seedling forest.  Since then, I’ve pulled out everything but two or three in each cube. 

Amaranth seedling forest
Amaranth seedling forest

Pruning Roses

When I got up today the sun was shining and I decided to wade through the remaining snow to do, well OK, start, a big job on two of my roses.  After much research, I’ve decided that the way to take care of  these two robust bushes, that have taken over much more space than they should, is a severe pruming.  I intend to identify four strong, healthy canes on each bush, not the oldest ones and take out everything else to the ground.  The blossoms grow on last year’s laterals so I will have to be careful not to damage those on the canes that I want to keep.

The rose on the right, shown first, with the larger canes and a more open habit is “City of York”.  The crazy wildish rose on the left and over the door arbor is “Seven Sisters”.[oqeygallery id=7]

It smells so GOOD!

In 2009, I heard that cherries were being dumped in the West Coast of Michigan, where I hope to retire, because there were so many that they couldn’t sell them.  I had done tours and tastings for Nashoba Winery for a few years between full time jobs and I knew what really good wine sour cherries can make.  What a shame!  It came to me that the ability to make a decent fruit wine might come in handy in that (completely hypothetical at the moment) day when I retired. 

So I bought a box of cider apples for $4 from Bolton Springs Farm in the fall of 2009.  After 18 months, and the third racking, it’s clear and smells like apple pie.  It tastes like apples, too; although a bit sour.  Fermentation uses up the natural sugars.  I didn’t have the right tool for racking so I threw away a more than I liked when I moved off the clear wine.  I put in an order for some stuff that prevents added sugar from fermenting, a stabilizer.  (And the rigid tool that I should have had during racking to control the siphoning process better.)  I’ll sweeten it and bottle it shortly. 

The first picture is before the first racking.  The second and third are from today’s process.  I wish it were a bit lighter in color but wouldn’t want to mess around with the flavor.

After first fermentation
Apple wine, after fermentation
Trying to filter the end
Racked wine
Racked apple wine
Racked apple wine

Seed starting using soil cubes — Part One

A friend remarked that I was the only gardener she knew who used soil blocks for seed starting, made by these tools, successfully.  It’s been easy for me so I thought it might make a good subject for a video or two. 

[wpvideo X5yPMCkv]

The soil blockers can be purchased from Johnny’s Seeds and Ailsa Craig, a large sweet onion, from Pinetree Seeds.  See “Sources” for link.