Planting – Poppies & Winter-Sowing


Poppies! I LOVE poppies, but I have some problems with poppies too. Number one on my list of loves is the way poppies develop big, luscious looking pods. When the pods begin to widen and split to reveal the color of the flower inside, honestly, I must admit I run out into the yard several times a day to see if the silken petals have opened. There is something magical in the wispy crown in the center of each flower too. Often there will be a splotch or two of contrasting color at the base of each petal. The foliage of many poppy plants glows in beautiful bluish green tones. Yes…I LOVE poppies.

One of the major drawbacks of poppies, at least in my opinion, is how hard it is to grow them from seed. For years I followed the advice on the back of the packets and on the pages of reliable gardening books and sowed them directly in the ground. This NEVER worked for me. Heavy spring rains ALWAYS washed my poppy seeds away before they could sprout, or if they did, the delicate small seedlings would be beat into the ground by that same rain. the “experts” say poppies don’t transplant well. I think I probably agree if they are grown in the house, but I have found a way to get a head start on poppies and that is through winter sowing.

I’ve written many times about winter sowing, so I am not going to take the time to rewrite what I have already posted. You can read about winter-sowing here and follow some of the links I list for more information: Winter Sowing

I am also including a post that shows the results of my winter sown poppies: Poppies

If you want to grow poppies this year, and have a milk carton or two on hand, give winter-sowing a try. It only takes a few minutes to create a miniature greenhouse to place outside in the sunshine. Happy Gardening!

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Plants – Bread Seed Poppies

I have certainly had a lot of posts about poppies in the past week or two. I might as well add one more. My Bread Seed Poppy pods are beginning to dry out and I harvested a few of the seeds.

The pods are the perfect container for the hundreds, perhaps thousands of seeds they contain. To harvest the seeds, I lifted up the cap, gently peeled it back, and easily poured out the seeds onto the waiting plate.

I’m letting them dry out a day or two longer on top of the refrigerator, a warm place where they won’t be disturbed. My next task will be to begin making cookies, muffins, etc., with my harvest.

Paintings- The Beginning/Poppies

I am redoing my outdoor porch. I want to replace a tattered poster of Van Gogh’s Irises that graced the inside wall for years. I am hoping to paint a large acrylic canvas using my bread seed poppies as the inspiration. I have removed all the color from my reference photographs and used the “Find Edges” filter to show the outside lines. I have enlarged them to fit the copy paper.

I printed seven of these along with several pictures of pods to lay on the canvas in hopes of developing a perfect composition. The pod copies are large enough, but I think I have to make another attempt with the poppies. I want more of the canvas to be covered by the blooms and also have some overlap. I’ll update the progress.

Projects – Square Foot Garden Update

This is an early morning photograph of my Square Foot Garden. I have to say, hopefully without sounding like I’m bragging, this method of gardening has been a major success for me. I have lettuce daily, my broccoli and bread seed poppies are ready to begin budding. I have cooked and eaten my kale and swiss chard, and though I have always loved fresh greens cooked in various ways, I can now feel a “fresh greens fanatic” point of view taking me over.

The Square Foot Gardening Website can be found here: Square Foot Gardens. Take a look and browse the information and photographs. Better yet, buy the book and create your own little area of vegetable heaven.

This is a view of the back of my Square Foot Garden. I know my pea trellis leaves a lot to be desired, but the peas come and go quickly, and I will be replacing them in a few weeks.

Because I didn’t want to give up too many of my squares to the dozen tomato plants I am growing I planted half in containers. These are doing very well too, the stems are beginning to look like tree saplings. I already have some flower buds on a few plants. O Happy Day…tomatoes in a month or two. Hooray!

I was honored to see one of my Square Foot Garden photographs was featured in a Mel Bartholomew Blog Post. Take a look: My Square Foot Garden Squares On Mel Barthlomew’s Website.

Plants – Update Square Foot Gardens and Swiss Chard

My Square Foot Gardens are doing great. Except for a few empty squares in the second garden, most of the space is filled with seeds or plants and growing well. I have harvested many servings of lettuce already. In fact, I can’t eat it fast enough and have been taking handfuls to family whenever I visit. The lettuce comes in a wide array of greens, pinks and reds and pairs perfectly with the arugula and water cress I have growing in the herb garden. A new sowing of mesclun is thriving and will soon be ready to begin harvesting. The bread seed poppies are magnificent and I expect them to send up budding stalks any day now. The peas in the back of the garden are in need of quick staking,  they are growing a few inches daily.

Here is a closeup of the earliest sown squares. Last week I sauteed a few pieces of kale with olive oil and garlic powder. Ah, so amazingly good; I wish I had begun this type of gardening years ago. This week I tried several leaves of the swiss chard. I chopped the stems and ribs and kept them separate from the leaves.

I gently boiled the chopped stems, and after about three minutes added the leaves along with a little Adobo spice mix, and gently simmered a few minutes longer.

Wow! The taste was beyond my highest expectations. I sprinkled the swiss chard with a squeeze of fresh lime, and “oohed” and “ahhed” with every mouthful. The best thing about both of these greens is they are still producing. I can’t wait to try my hand at cooking and eating them again.

Planting – Update/Winter Sowing and Square Foot Garden

My Winter Sowing has been a wonderful success. A few things did not come up, but I think the seeds I used in those instances can be called into question. The seeds that did not sprout were older, and some came from seed exchanges, and I wasn’t sure about their age or viability.

I am sure that I will winter sow every year from now on. I also will use only the larger sized milk gallons in the future. The juice and soda bottles also worked, but the seeds sown in the milk jugs sprouted and grew better. The stars of my winter sowing are the poppies and andrella asters. I’ve already transplanted the bread seed poppies into my Square Foot Garden. Even though they have taproots, they adjusted within a week, and are growing at a quick rate. The annual poppies I sowed are doing even better. I can’t wait to get them into my garden beds. The Andrella Asters are a huge surprise. The seed came from Baker’s Creek Heirloom Seeds. I’ve tried to grow asters in the past with minimal success. The winter sown aster plants are lush and covered with foliage already. I’m so excited about the beautiful asters I’ll have gracing my gardens in a few months from now.

My Square Foot Garden is producing a bounty of leaf lettuces. I am really pleased with the Black Seeded Simpson variety. This was also winter sown and has been planted out for a few weeks. It is a beautiful chartreuse green color and tastes heavenly in my salads. I am planning to mulch around the gardens soon. I am hoping that it will keep some of the critters at bay. This week there was a gang of five rabbits in my yard. Big rabbits, with big chewing teeth, thankfully feasting on the clover in the lawn rather than my garden plants. I am making up more water balloons today.