Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Selling Elsewhere

The recent influx of seed and plant resellers to Etsy and complete dismissal of the issue by the Etsy CEO has encouraged me to find other outlets for my plant sales. While I won't be closing house entirely on Etsy, I feel that the situation has severely compromised the integrity of the Plants category and don't wish to be lumped in with blatant resellers and people lying about the origins of their seeds.

By the recommendation of greenthing, I will shortly be setting up shop on winkelf. I like the layout and general look and feel of the site, and I think it may end up being a good home.

I've had a couple of listings up on ArtFire, but I feel that the look and feel of the site is too cluttered, messy, and difficult to navigate. Supposedly, there are going to be changes made, but I'll be waiting for those before I decide whether to invest any more time in my shop there.

The second place that I will be opening up shop is Zibbet. It's still very small and developing, but the layout and listing process is very clean, tidy, and easy to navigate. They also have a strict 'no resellers' policy, which greatly, greatly appeals to me. I hope that means that, as the site grows, it will maintain its integrity in a way that Etsy seems unwilling or unable to do. My shop on Zibbet is located here.

We'll see how they do and what happens. I'll probably be checking into other selling outlets, but that's all the news that is news, for now.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Rain, iris, and snakes.

The past couple of days have been a great break from the rain. We had one day of high winds that took down part of a dying Bradford pear, so I'll have plenty of mulch this year for my beds. My flowers are blooming and I've had a lot of visitors.

My iris are blooming for the first time this year. I've got a couple of yellows and possibly a couple of peaches that are budding out, and I'm very excited! Here's one of the purples:

And here's a little guy that visited last week. He was only about 12" long, but he gave me a start when I saw him sunning himself on the patio. I think we positively identified him as an East Midland Water Snake. He was completely non aggressive (but very slippery!), so we picked him up and carried him back across the street to the pond.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sowing small seeds

Seeds come in all shapes and sizes, and I've noticed, recently, that many people tend to shy away from small seeds. When I say 'small', you might think of tomato seeds, but I think of tiny seeds. Seeds that are so small that they can easily be balanced on the tip of a ball point pen.

You've never seen a seed this small, perhaps, because many times, these tiny tiny seeds are treated before you get them. Sometimes they're imbedded in paper or strips or coated in clay to make them easier to handle. For those of us who are small growers, these treatments are often costly and impractical for the batches we collect.

I've been told time and time again how difficult it is to start these plants from their tiny seeds, so I thought I'd provide a short list on how to successfully germinate your newest addition.

First, find your container. I know a few people who are able to sow these tiny seeds outdoors, but I always have the best luck starting them under shelter. Your container can be just about anything from a seed tray to a plastic cup.

Second, mix a soilless potting mixture with water until moist and pack it into your container. You don't want it soupy, but it should be noticeably damp, if you stick a finger into it.

Third, the moment of truth. Take a pinch of seeds and sprinkle them over the surface. If you like to see where your seeds are going, take a piece of damp paper towel and lay it over the surface of the soil before sprinkling.

Fourth, DO NOT cover these tiny seeds. Some small seeds are fine with being covered, but I've found that my germination rates are much higher when surface sown. If you are starting your seeds in a dry environment, cover your container with plastic wrap or a clear plastic cover. This will retain moisture and allow light in to your seeds. Make sure to keep the containers warm to speed up the germination process.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Knitting Paraphenalia and Geekery

Last night, I expressed my inner geek and made these.

Up until last night, my double pointed knitting needles were tied or rubber banded together, which was extremely inconvenient. Add to it that, every time I needed to clarify the needle size, I had to look up which color was which set (great until you buy two sets in the same color!) or pull out my sometimes unreliable and unfindable needle sizer.

So I sealed together little needle cases. I love the look of the rolled cases, but I don't find them overly practical. Maybe I'm just a messy, careless knitter, but I was never careful enough to keep the roll just at the right angle to prevent needles from escaping or sliding around. With these, I just velcro them shut and throw them in my little knitting tool box. Handy!

I would like to use snaps instead of velcro on these, but I will probably not be getting a snap press in the near future.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Plant Profile - Mazus reptans

My gardens are waking up for spring, and I've been captured, again, by this lovely groundcover.

First, the down and dirty. This little plant is hardy from zn 5-8, and does well in most conditions. I've got some growing in full sun, but I have a couple of plants in shaded areas. The full sun plants grow faster, but the ones in the shade do pretty well, too. It likes it wet, but it's taken the recent drought years like a man and made significant progress.

The leaves are small, usually less than 1" long, tear shaped with scalloped edges. The leaves grow in little clumps and send out runners in all directions. The foliage, here, in our warmer climate is actually evergreen, which is very nice when my perennial beds have quieted down for the winter. Due to its 'running' nature, the plant is very easily propagated. Cuttings take readily, and it naturally layers itself as it crawls and spreads. Even better, it can take light foot traffic, making it a great choice for area where you've got stepping stones or occasionally have to trek.

From early spring to late summer, the plant blooms with small (~1" long), unusual little flowers. The plant pictured is the white variety, but I also have a purple variety. A small amount of greenery can produce a huge number of flowers, and pollinators flock to this little lovely all year.

Now, we all know that a lot of groundcovers tend towards the invasive, but this little guy is very friendly. It grows dense enough to act as a living mulch, but it doesn't choke out plants, which makes it a great companion for areas where my bulbs are. It spreads readily, but it's not so fast that it's difficult to control.