Strawberries and Peonies!

Garden update day! I did a bit of shopping and lots of planting this past week, so I’ll hopefully be harvesting my own salads in a month 🙂

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I bought this hanging strawberry basket because I’ve always wanted strawberries but didn’t have that much luck with them the last time I grew them on the ground. All kinds of critters got to my berries before me, despite trying all kinds of different deterrents. And it’s got pink flowers! I left two baby plants for it to grow out but cut off the rest of the runners so we’d get plenty of fruit. There’s actually one green berry on the right, but it’s kind of covered up by a leaf. If this thing survives over the winter (I think we might be able to keep it dormant in the cold cellar), then I’d like to get a strawberry pot next year so we can grow more plants in the same space.

Several more pictures behind the cut…

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My fuchsia has produced a serious number of buds that I hope will all open, while the dicentra should be nearing the end of its blooming season soon. That’s okay, because the freesia bulbs I planted in there are now starting to poke up and should fill in that space by the time the plant on the right goes dormant in the warmer weather.

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The geranium on the right is blooming like there’s no tomorrow. The dutch iris sprouts below them are now starting to show leaves and I hope they end up taller than the two plants they were tossed between. The impatiens on the left is turning out to be as fussy as I remember it being the last time I tried growing it. The minute the soil gets slightly less than damp, it starts dropping flowers and buds like it’s going to mummify right then and there. I probably wouldn’t have bought it myself, but it’s a gift so I feel obliged to keep it alive. The sun isn’t as intense as it was back in Cali, but because the growing hours are so long (we have decent sun from 5AM until 10PM now), the overall heat levels don’t really cool off too much overnight and soil in containers is drying out much faster than I expected in such a moist climate.

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My salad garden is looking pretty leafy now! I’m seeing a few different varieties pop up, which should make for a colorful salad when mixed with leaves from the various basil plants I’m also growing from seed.

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Speaking of seeding. The only ones to successfully start themselves outside were the chives in the upper right. The other three were various basil varieties that got cranky when it was raining for a bit. I started a second batch of all of them inside instead, and you’ll see the results a couple of photos down.

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The rectangular container on the left is full of two staggered layers of ranunculus, which I absolutely LOVE for making bouquets. They’re also such painless plants to grow that I couldn’t resist having a big patch of them when I saw bags of roots for sale at the market. On the right, I have a baby peony. It’s suppose to be a light pink color, but we’ll see. I tried growing peonies once in California and it was disastrous. Which was heartbreaking, because I love the flowers and tried so hard to get them to grow. They’re another plant that absolutely needs a certain amount of cold to complete its annual life cycle. Now I can overwinter the darn things on my balcony as long as they’re covered up a bit. Whee! One of the first things on my to-do list when we started this whole moving-to-Finland thing was to write down “PLANT A PEONY”. So there it is! 😀

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Some cuttings that I’ve got rooting in bottles at the kitchen window. Two sprigs of glossy philodendron courtesy of the lovely Wax and her kitchen jungle, and a batch of sweet basil from the boy’s mom. The basils were spindly and huge when they arrived, since they were meant to be plucked and trashed, so I pulled off all the usable leaves and froze them in a plastic bag for later use (they store in the freezer remarkably well and still retain the fresh basil taste), then took the two healthiest looking sprigs to root as separate plants. The little clump in the left is what was leftover after my ruthless pruning, and they’re actually looking all the happier for the culling. I’ll probably separate them out into individual pots when I plant the rest of these cuttings as well.

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Tomato seedlings! I started these last Friday and they germinated in a few days, just like the basil. The freezer vent wall is my new favorite spot. I have three different varieties of cherry tomato going — a white one, a deep purple “black” one, and little red pear-shaped ones. I didn’t want to plant anything that would be easy to get at the store, though the boy remains highly suspicious of my choosing the strangest produce possible.

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My baby basils are up and running! I’ll have to transplant them pretty soon, as soon as their first true leaves grow in, since they’re an inch tall now and those egg cartons are not too deep. These are the Thai and lemon basils. There’s also a red-leafed variety in the other corner that’s not shown here. I’m still trying to decide how many of these to pot up and how many to eat whole in the name of culling. Depends on how many I plan to gift around, I guess.

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And finally, not a garden picture but a small sampling of the insane number of dandelions that are springing up everywhere. Well, this picture is from a week ago so they’ve all gone to seed now. Still, this is exciting because I love dandelion greens and doing all sorts of things with the plants. Of course, I can’t use the ones around the apartment because they’ve been exposed to car exhaust and wild children and are in the line of a major dog-walking route. But I’m not above foraging in the parents’ backyard and various other wilder places when I get the chance, and will probably harvest some seed heads to plant a container full on the balcony as well. There’s just something so satisfying about eating weeds, don’t you think?

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