The September meeting will include a seed and bulb swap. Don’t forget to bring your harvest. Also welcome are bulbs and unused commercial seed packets. This is a great and inexpensive way to try something new in your garden. Please bring your loose seeds and bulbs in a marked container so that swappers will know what they are getting! Read the following articles on how to use and prepare your future plants!
Seeds! Seeds! Seeds!
Terri is passing on some tips on germinating from Will Kimerer. They will be discussed at the meeting.
“If the seeds were collected from plants that grow outdoors here all year, chances are the seeds need to be cold stratified for 1 to 3 months (depending on the species). This softens the hard seed coat, allowing the seeds to germinate. Some seeds may germinate without stratifying, especially if they are barely hardy here.
The length the seeds can be kept also varies–a lot. Usually hard coated seeds last longer than soft. Also, smaller seeds tend to last longer. After harvest, they can be cleaned, usually by soaking in warm water overnight, then scraping the fruit away from the seed/seeds. Then dry them for a few days on a paper towel before storing, stratifying or planting.
To cold stratify, you want to put the seeds in slightly moistened medium (vermiculite, perlite, sand, or even just a moist paper towel), and seal it in a plastic bag so it doesn’t dry out. Put them in the refrigerator (usually crisper drawer). After the few months, you can plant in whatever medium you wish (sterile is best). If you plant directly outside, you can skip the cold stratification if you plant in the fall before winter (they will be naturally cold stratified); but some seeds may not like our really cold winters.
Also, animals may eat or remove the seeds, so I would highly recommend starting them inside with the refrigerator cold stratification method (you can start them from now through winter, and grow them up inside until spring).”
Bulbs! Bulbs! Bulbs!
How to Divide Bulbs and Rhizomes in the Fall from Patti Elwell
**Note all the plants noted here require at least 6 hours of sun to thrive.
Named for the Greek Goddess of the rainbow, Iris come in a rainbow of colors. They are generally hardy to zone 3 and easy to grow in a sunny spot (6+ hours) in well-drained soil. Late summer is a wonderful time to divide iris, when they are easy to see and to split.
Whenever dividing bulbs or rhizomes, make sure the gardening knife, spade or other tools you use have been cleaned with alcohol or bleach to prevent transferring disease.
Begin by digging up the rhizomes that you see growing along the ground. Dig up the clump by inserting the trowel or shovel into the soil around the perimeter to loosen the roots. Use caution when digging not to damage the rhizomes. Pull up the clump you want, using a knife if necessary to divide it (but often you will be able to just pull it apart with your hands. Wash the clump and look for rot or worms, and discard any portions that are diseased or infested.
Clip the fan of leaves at the top of the plant to 4-6”. This will help your plant spend more time on root development when you transplant it. Each rhizome should have at least one fan of leaves at the top and root growing out the bottom.
Replant divided iris rhizomes 6-8” apart so that the top is visible at the soil surface and provide good air circulation. Do NOT mulch as this can promote rotting.
Enjoy the new blossoms that should arrive next spring! After blooms have passed you can prune the flower stalks and enjoy the unique spikey foliage through the summer. Iris will die back into the ground in the winter and dead growth should be cleared in the spring to make room for new growth.
Tulips can tend to fade out after a few years, and flower less prolifically after a few years. If you are seeing this occur with your blooms, what is probably happening is that the bulbs have become overcrowded and that is a signal it is time to divide.
Dividing Tulips is trickier in the fall since most of the foliage has died back into the ground, but if you know where they come up each year, it will be easier. Start digging DEEPLY a few inches away from where you have seen the plants growing and lift under the bulbs to loosen them. Once out of the ground, rinse them and check for firmness and discard any that may be rotted. Damaged bulbs should not be replanted.
You can either transplant them immediately or put them in a “holding” bed or pot to let them mature more if the bulbs are small. Adding peat moss to the hole where you plant your tulips with ensure the tulips good drainage. Special bulb fertilizer will help your tulips develop stronger roots as well. Plant tulip bulbs with the pointed tip up.
Daylilies are another perennial that now comes in a host of colors and flower styles. These hearty plants are easy to divide and share.
Start with inserting your shovel or garden fork deep into the soil around the perimeter to loosen roots and isolate the clump. You can easily divide the clump in the middle or in sections by splitting it with your shovel. Watering a few days before digging will make the soil softer and make digging easier. Once the roots have been loosened, push your shovel or fork under the root ball to be removed, and lift, trying to keep the clump intact.
Once you dig the daylily out of the ground, wash the excess soil off the root ball. This will mae it easier to pull the clump apart. Pull or cut apart the individual crowns. Trim back the leaves to about 6”. As with Iris, each clump needs to have a set of leave and roots in order to grow. Plant the divisions at the same depth as before and cover with soil.
When replanting daylily divisions, covering with mulch will help conserve moisture while your new plants become established.
Ok, so garlic isn’t a perennial, but in my book, and if you remember from Roger Swain’s program where he totally agreed, it is an easy fall-planted bulb. Garlic can be grown in your perennial or vegetable garden and offers a wonderful addition to your culinary efforts, has wonderful health benefits and can be dried to last a long time.
You are lucky if you can find a friend who can share some garlic bulbs with you since each bulb can have 4-12 cloves which, when planted in the fall, will produce a full bulb to harvest in summer. Garlic likes fertile well-drained soils.
There are two types of garlic that will grow in Zone 5: Hardneck and Softneck.
Hardneck is just what it is called, a bulb that ends up with a hard stalk in the middle when dried. The additional benefit to growing Hardneck garlic is that it produces curled garlic scapes in June. The scapes have a milder garlic flavor and can be used for pesto, stir fry and more. Softneck varieties do not produce scapes, but are great for braiding since they do not have the hard middle stalk when dried.
How to plant garlic: choose a sunny site, mix in a 1” layer of compost into the soil. In acidic soil, mix in a light dusting of wood ashes. Break apart bulbs into cloves and plant 4 inches deep and 6 inches apart, with pointed ends up. Cover the planted areas with a good layer of mulch such as hay or shredded leaves.
How to harvest garlic: Scapes generally appear in mid to late June. Each plant produces one curly scape that can be cut as soon as it curls. Cutting them too late will mean tougher scapes. In late July when you see tops dry, use a garden fork to loosen the soil before pulling the plants. Place the fork to the side of the bulbs and push deep to lift underneath. Pull out gently. Lay whole plants in a dry airy spot (in the garage on some newspaper is fine) and leave to dry for a week or more. Brush off dirt, prune off roots at the bottom. Washing can introduce bacteria so is not advised. On hardnecks, trim off stems, in softnecks, either trim or braid. Store in a cool place; length of storage depends on the bulb variety.