Friday, February 26, 2016

"My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant's point of view."
~H. Fred Dale

Here at the Container Butterfly Garden compound, the busy little propagation elves are hard at work again, well, propagating.

With recent purchases and seed swaps of several new species, various aspects of preparation and germination are revving up. Some need cold stratification, while others can be placed in a planting medium immediately.

-Andrew Kliss Photography
Mini Greenhouse

This is the little mini greenhouse setup I have running in my bedroom which includes a grow light stand, greenhouse high dome, tray, and a heat mat beneath the towel. The towel is for catching any condensate that escapes from between the dome and tray. It sits nestled in front of a bay window where I can open the louvers to let in the morning light.

For more info on the equipment, this earlier post goes into greater detail: Saturday, December 7, 2013. Since my initial setup two seasons ago, I've learned a bit and refined a few things:
  • Instead of using the plastic cell inserts, I switched to Jiffy peat trays and peat pots. Both come in several sizes. Much easier to use; doesn't cause plant stress from trying to push little seedlings out of the plastic trays. With the peat trays, all one needs to do is cut the individual cells apart and plant it cell and all when ready. Ditto on the pots: plant the whole thing in the ground or larger container.
  • The Jiffy brand of seed starting medium was to put it mildly, terrible. Black Gold Seedling Mix I purchased from Green Thumb Nursery is da bomb. Love the stuff. The saying applies here too: "You get what you pay for!".

 Jiffy Seedling Starting Strips

 Jiffy Pots

Peat starting strips and pots are fairly ubiquitous, as are trays, and covers. They can be found at big box do-it-yourself home improvement centers, Walmart, larger nurseries, and online such as Amazon. The only place I find high domes locally are at the neighborhood Green Thumb Nursery nearby. Generally, for seed germination and small cuttings, the busy little elves here use peat strips. For fast growing plants and larger cuttings, the elves use peat pots.

One can also recycle newspaper to make starting pots for both seeds and cuttings. A thing to avoid though is colored inks; black ink is soy based and safe to use, whereas colored inks may contain toxic chemicals:

 Come spring, I'll be making making cuttings of various plants 'cuz I'm a tightwad and squeak when I walk and don't wish to spend more money on plants than I have to if there's the know-how and the resources to do so otherwise.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

“The world contained in a seed, Determined by its program.”
~Dejan Stojanovic

First, a little bit of news about the latest Western Monarch population count. There has been a gradual rise in numbers the past few years overall as illustrated in the graph below, but well below the high of 1997-1998:

-Monarch Joint Venture

Encouraging news indeed. Southern California though, has seen a reduction in numbers according to The Xerces Society article: "Less positive is that in southern California, the majority of the sites surveyed had fewer monarchs than last year." What is shocking when looking at the graph is the plummeting numbers between years 1997 and 1999.

Now on to some fun stuff...

The Container Butterfly Garden has been wheeling and dealing like it never whelt and dealt before, exchanging plant seeds of late with like-minded souls. So, I got an idea (dangerous) of creating and designing a custom seed packet to share and exchange seeds with, which can also be used to store seed in. The Container Butterfly Garden is offering a ZIP file containing two printable PDFs: one for small packets, the other is a large packet. Click on Seed Packet Templates if you wish to use them too.




Print on a 8.5x11 sheet of paper (size A4 for Euros). 
Cut just inside the black outline, fold, and then glue.

Fold the bottom and side tabs in, using a ruler or straight edge to get a crisp fold and glue the tabs together where they overlap each other, making sure you don't glue them to the inside of the front panel. Next, add a bit of glue to the tops of both folded tabs. Thirdly, fold the back side over, align and press: TA-DA!

A little tip when sending seed via mail: if using a regular envelope, place seed in bubble wrap to protect them from possible damage by postal automated sorting machines, or at least wrap them in a paper towel folded over several times. Small manila cushioned mailers work great too.