Saturday, April 11, 2009

Early Garden Days--Propagation

Spring seems to have finally won over Winter, just in time for Ostara. A few warm days have finally lured me out of the shelter of the house and into the garden. Our crocuses are finishing their show, which was better than ever this year. Our hyacinths didn't do much of anything this year, and our daffodils are a bit behind, but our early blooming daffs are just about ready to burst. The peonies, iris and allium are up, and I've seen peeking leaves from the columbine, bergamot, bleeding heart, and a few others. I took clippers to the perennial beds today to take most everything to ground level--we leave almost everything up in the winter to provide food and/or shelter for the critters. I also began this year's battle with the quack grass, which apparently got a better foothold than I'd realized last year. As I was trimming the false indigo, the lure of the crackling pods finally got the better of me. I harvested the pods that hadn't yet split open, and set them aside for planting. One of the things I most enjoy about gardening is propagation. To me, that's a huge part of the magic--taking just one plant and seeing it become many more. For years, that's been a necessity for us as we build beds faster than we can afford to fill them with new stock. So I've gotten pretty good at splitting and dividing plants and letting them fill in where they will. In the past I've toyed with the idea of propagating more seriously. Now we're finally at a point where our beds have filled in nicely and we can turn our efforts in another direction. Last year I had a small nursery bed where I kept plants leftover from garden installations and "volunteer" plants from our more controlled prairie beds. We were able to use a few of them for more installations and to fill in to other beds. This year I'm hoping to do much more. I started all of the indigo seeds I could find in some peat pots, and rounded up some red milkweed seeds from the rain garden to try as well. I also dug into the dwarf iris in our larger rain garden, to split some for professional propagation, and move a few. I'll do most of the splitting for our own garden in the Fall. I'm confident that I'll be able to stock up on a good number of Purple Coneflower, Cupplant, and a few of other frequent volunteers before the season gets too far. I'm hoping that if I can succeed in expanding our collection of native nursery plants, I can supplement our stock that we need to order for garden installations as well as give us something to sell at the Farmer's Market when all of our produce is going to our restaurants and regular customers. Last year we didn't make it to market once, because our produce sold so quickly.

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