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New Favorites for 2013

6 Jan
Echinacea 'Cheyenne Spirit'photo courtesy AAS

Echinacea ‘Cheyenne Spirit’
photo courtesy AAS

Not only do I love getting the new garden catalogs for the year, I love to learn about the new varieties that are available.  Even though I have my favorites that I will forever plant year after year at My Urban Farmscape, I can’t wait for the season to begin so I can try something new.  I have already started my seed sowing calendar and have realized that it’s almost time to start the majority of my veggie, herb and flower seeds.  It’s this time of year when my family learns to deal with my obsession and continuous conversations with them (and sometimes, well mostly, with myself) about what gardening or plant related thoughts are in my head.

Really, just this morning I blurted out, “I need to get those seeds planted in the next few weeks if they are going to bloom this year.”

My husband’s eyes glazed over as he asked, “What are you talking about?”

“This Echinacea ‘Cheyene Spirit’  is absolutely beautiful, and I need to find a place grow a big patch of it, just a few feet, maybe five along the fence, and it should bloom the first year when planted from seed, but I have to get it sowed by the middle of this month.  Oh my!  Look at all the colors, red, pink, yellow, orange, purple and white which will grow really good in that hot sunny spot next to the house.  Oh!  The bees and butterflies will LOVE them, I can see that late summer cut flower bouquet now..…..”  I realized he wasn’t listening, but continued to talk out loud to myself.  “It’s also one of the 2013 All-American Selection winners!”

Tomato 'Jasper'photo courtesy AAS

Tomato ‘Jasper’
photo courtesy AAS

My excitement continued with another 2013 AAS winner that was bred by Johnny’s Selected Seeds.  A bright red cherry tomato ‘Jasper’, an F1 hybrid which is also certified organic.  Nice!  An intermediate growing cherry tomato needing to be staked which should produce fruit 90 days from sowing seeds.  Johnny’s and AAS described the flavor having a “sweet, rich taste”.  I think that I need to try this one.  I’m sure I can fit it in somewhere.

Now thinking about tomatoes reminded me about the grafted tomato plants available from Burpee.  I called out to my husband, “Can you believe they are grafting tomatoes like they graft fruit trees?!”  No response.  I have found this to be very interesting, reading about it for the past few years and decided this is the year to buy a few plants.  Simply put, an heirloom variety is the plant on the top, so you get the delicious heirloom flavor, but the roots are from a hybrid that will provide increased disease resistance.  Wow!  The original pink Brandywine will be my first choice.  You can purchase these directly from Burpee.com or possibly your local garden retailer.

Burpee's 'Bumper Crop' grafted tomatophoto courtesy Burpee

Burpee’s ‘Bumper Crop’ grafted tomato
photo courtesy Burpee

I came across a new heirloom pickling cucumber ‘Miniature White’ from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  Not only is the flesh a creamy white, but the skin is also a creamy white.  That should look nice against the green foliage.  I thought that this may make an interesting addition to the garden as they say it is a high producer and grows good in a container.  I was even more excited when I read about it seldom growing more than 3 feet!  A true bonus for any Urban Farmscape.  I became distracted wondering what color container I should plant it in and decided to go outside and rummage around the garage.  I could always paint it if I didn’t have the right color.  Orange?  Maybe purple.  That would really stand out.  Not too many purple things in the garden.  I don’t know.  I decided to go in and ask my husband what color he thought would look good.  I don’t know if he’ll respond, but I know that at least he’ll smile.

Sunflower S-M-I-L-E

2 Sep

I have never met a sunflower I didn’t like.  Have you?  Honestly, don’t they make you S-M-I-L-E ?  They are so easy to grow.  And I’m sure if you feed birds, you have witnessed the sunflower that was randomly “planted” next to the bird feeder.  They are so easy to grow.  Even when I go to the farmers market I can still find some to buy.  The farmer I buy mine from each week sells sunflowers at 3 for $1.00.  So, for 33.333333333 cents each, I can afford to pass them out to friends and co-workers.  Then I get to watch them S-M-I-L-E .  Did you know that the heirloom sunflower “Mammoth” can grow ten to twelve feet tall?  And have heads that could possibly stretch up to twelve inches across?  This is the biggest sunflower out there.  And the best part is, if you grow one, you will never have to buy seed again.  WHAT?!!?!  I have been growing this sunflower for many, many years, and save one of the heads each year, and have hundreds of seeds.  I have so many seeds, that I am going to send some to you if you are one of the first 25 readers to like or share this post.  Really.  I want to share the Sunflower S-M-I-L-E and then you can grow some and share them with your friends too.  Don’t worry about the size, they are perfect for an urban farmscape.  I fell in love with them when I first grew them at my farm.  I planted a 10 x 10 space in a small culinary garden.  They are tall, and I didn’t have much room, but I decided to try them anyway.   Don’t be surprised if they are the center of attention in your garden. 

How to save seeds from your sunflower.

  • First, the outer petals will start to dry up.  You will be able to see the seeds when the flowers begin to fall off. 
  • If the birds start eating the seeds, you know for sure it’s time to harvest. 
  • After harvesting the flower, place in a warm dry location to dry completely.  Keep the heads whole if you like and use as bird feeders or for crafts. 
  • Sunflower seeds are really hard to remove.  If you want to remove them from the head, take two seed heads and rub them together.  Wear gloves as the stem may have small sliver type pieces that could irritate your skin. Once a few seeds begin to dislodge, it will get easier.
  • You will end up with some seeds mixed with some dried plant material.  Clean the remaining seeds from the plant debris and then store in a cool dry location in a paper bag or paper envelope. 
  • You can feed the birds, feed yourself, or even make crafts with sunflowers.  

 

 

Here’s what I made this weekend while camping from a sunflower head using florists wire and picks, and some dried flowers and items found in nature. 

Step 1:  First I used some floral picks to wrap wire around pine cones.  Set aside to use later.

 

Step 2:  Next, I arranged some dried flowers across the lower portion of a grapevine wreath.

 

Step 3:  Wire the dried flowers to the wreath using floral wire.  Trim stems.

 

Step 4:  I used floral wire to attach this sunflower head to the wreath, covering the stems of the dried flowers.

 

Step 5:  Here I inserted some fresh-cut hydrangeas as“filler”.  These will dry, and still look nice. 

 

For the finishing touches, I hung it up and then placed in the pinecones where I felt they were needed.  I like to look at it a bit.  Then while out on a walk, I picked some ferns and used them.  They will get curly and brown, and might not look as good as the others, but for now, I liked it! 

 

I’m sure that if you haven’t grown sunflowers before, you will want to grow them next year.  So if you want some free Sunflower “Mammoth” seeds, this is what you need to do, it’s easy, and it will make a lot of people S-M-I-L-E !

  1. “Like” or “Share” this post using any of the sharing buttons below to get a packet of 10 seeds.  Only the first 25 people to do so will get seeds.  So hurry!
  2. Next, send me an e-mail to request your seeds (I need the address to mail them too.  Don’t worry, I won’t keep, share, or use your address in any other way than to send you your seeds.  patti@myurbanfarmscape.com 
  3. I will pay for the postage!  Hooray! 
  4. You will receive your seeds with planting instructions, let’s say, within ten business days of requesting, at which time, you will experience a small smile 🙂

 

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