Return from Hiatus – and RootCups!

It’s been a while since I posted anything, and that’s partly because I had my second back surgery about a month ago.  Everything leading up to that was a flurry getting things planted – even though the weather hadn’t cooperated with hardening off my seedlings so I had to do a trial by sunny fire – and after that was recouperation time.  So I’ll try to catch you up.  The main things to say are that the garden is just about to kick into high gear, and I’m pleased as punch.

It's starting!

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We haven’t had much rain, so I’ve been painstakingly trying to water things  and keep them hydrated after a lot of very very sunny days, and my peonies are finally starting to open which means that it should rain tomorrow and knock the crap out of them.  Happens every year.

I’m pretty sure that this little guy did in all the caladiums I tried for this first time this….

The smallest nemesis

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And because it’s been so dry, anything that I watered kept getting craters dug nearby (and occasionally uprooted) which I eventually determined was due not to the chipmunk, but to the toads…

Another garden buddy

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I spontaneously took a first stab at making a hypertufa/papercrete’esque inspired toad house so he hopefully had a more interesting place to nest that around the roots of my plants.  It came out a little stark, but hopefully serves the purpose.

My toad house came out looking a tiny bit Soviet….

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The bright sunny days has meant that I could move the succulents out doors during the day, and I’m getting the echeverias used to full sun, but I haven’t been doing great with them – I’ve lost a few as I try to get the hang of their conditions.  On the upside, I’ve been doing much better with the haworthias, which are the real prizes of my collection, and I’ll post something more about them later.  I am still phasing through repotting to get rid of all the napa gritty mix (which claimed my Black Prince along with my Ramilette), I have two different methods of starting lithops seedlings currently in progress, and I’ve ordered a few packets of haworthia seeds online to try raising those from seed.  They need to dry out for two months at least prior to being started for max germination, so it will be a while before that experiment starts.  Hopefully it goes with a slightly better germination/success rate than this past winters experiment with echevaria seedlings, although the ones that managed to make it through that gauntlet still seem to be doing well.

The latest photos of my echeverias, grown from seed.
Some of the collection getting some outdoor sun.  Or shade, as the case may be.

I didn’t do so well with my perennial seedlings this year, although the annuals are doing okay and the delphiniums (the first I’ve ever successfully germinated) are thriving, even though they’re a toppled over mess that probably will stay in pots until next spring.  While the annual seedlings have been planted, and succulents are moving more outdoors, that meant I had some basement space to try rooting garden cuttings.  I was emboldened by my moderate success with some houseplants, and I had read online a recommendation for a product called “RootCups“, and ordered a few on Amazon.  They’re basically these little rubber cups with special lids that shade the cut end and hold it in water, while gripping the stems and holding the cuttings upright.  I started with a special hybrid monarda that grows very low and dense (And is a very saturated purple color), because my plan is to eventually rip out all the tall, weedy heritage pink monarda and replace them with this variety.  Monarda should be relatively easy, and given that I’m 3/3 on my first cuttings I’m tempted to go take a few more in case the transplant to peat doesn’t take.  The root cups were phenomenally easy, and the ones I did without the plastic “greenhouse bag” even seem to be doing better than the one I did with.

Are they necessary? No.  Do they have some sort of secret magic to them? No.  Are they a very clever design that I found helpful and useful?  Very much so.  If you plan on trying to do some propagation via vegetative cuttings, I’d recommend considering it.

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