Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Fledglings Flap their Leaves

As a beginner, I expect very little success in my horticultural endeavors so when things go really well, I find myself a bit flummoxed. I can use maybe 15 seep monkeyflower plants - but what about the other 485 seedlings joyously springing up in the greenhouse?

So Saturday I took a good look at my upper deck plants, loafing around in gallon pots, and realized, it was way past time for them to be off on life's grand adventure. Also I have to clear them out to make room for the next batch.

I had sent some plants off a few weeks ago, to live in Scotts Valley in an open scrubby area between two houses, which a friend is revegetating. They are in the photo at the top - Some toyon, some hairy honeysuckle, and some melic grass. All looking sparkly green. So exciting to see them go! Later I also sent some more toyon and some sea foam (Holodiscus discolor). My friend insisted on giving me some money - no no I said. I'm really bad like that. She said well at least take twenty dollars.

So I have a check for twenty dollars that I may never cash. Maybe I'll frame it, like businesses frame the first dollar they make. I do want to grow plants for sale one day, not to compete with the big nurseries - just to sell locally in my neighborhood, and promote our local natives, locally. A hobby retirement business - my little dream.

But what I saw Saturday made my heart sink. Powdery mildew on the hairy honeysuckle - and other leaf damage!


A few toyon leaves, too, show signs of leaf-spot fungus infection (based on my diagnosis using "What's Wrong With My Plant" - great book to have).

(Black spots indicate fungus spores - otherwise browning of leaves might indicate lack of water. I think I saw both kinds of brown areas - but I'm not sure.)

These plants have lived in close confinement, on the damp east facing side of our house, for too long. The hairy honeysuckle in particular had gotten all overgrown and tangled.

This is the first time I've had to deal with such a problem. Suddenly I'm not in paradise any longer.

Time for radical action. I carefully removed all the damaged material and put it in a plastic bag to go in the trash.

At least that's what I'd like to say - in fact, I plucked madly and clipped and snipped and lots of detritus fell on the deck and blew away in the wind -- and what I could gather up I put in a plastic bag to go in the trash. Don't do like I did.

So then I planted all day, tucking plants into suitable spots all around the property, a little more desperately as the day wore on and I still had plants left. My legs are still aching! Next weekend I'll finish the job.

Here are some hairy honeysuckle I planted strategically near a prostrate toyon (they fall over then keep growing - I kind of like it).

I also gave healthy plants to two neighbors - and have a few more takers. One neighbor was very happy to receive some manzanita plants grown from cuttings. Though she is just down the ridge from me, none grow on her property, much of which has been cultivated as a fine vineyard, orchard, and vegetable garden. Another neighbor far up the road in the other direction can use a lot of the hairy honeysuckle for erosion control, and some toyon, and such of the douglas Iris as are left over from the other "rehomers." So I'm really happy about all that.

Lesson learned: Gotta manage the plants better, and have more of a plan for the graduates of my little program here. So next year I'm thinking I may have a neighborhood plant sale - I'll cover my costs if I can and any surplus will go to a charity.

Great! - Now I can look my seedlings in the face!

5 comments:

Terra said...

This is a realistic story of grand success and worrisome problems when growing plants. I think you should photocopy the check, frame the copy and cash the check. I did that with a check I got for writing an article :) Well I photocopied it, but didn't frame it.

Country Mouse said...

Good idea on photocopying the check! Thanks for your sympathetic ear - or eye I guess, in reading this post!

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

I'm guilty of the same. I still have plants sitting on the deck begging to be transplanted! I can barely recognize the spice bush out there anymore, now that it's lost its leaves. I expect your mildew problems will resolve themselves once the plants are established in their new spot. I'll be curious to see if the deer nibble any of your young plantlings that have been set out. They seem to LOVE the hairy honeysuckle here, especially the new spring growth!

Benjamin Vogt said...

I'm about ready to ahve a neighborhood plant sale, but one around here has any plants. I mean, grass grass grass. Maybe that's my inspiration? I tried giving away iris for free at Halloween. One kid asked "What's that?" Free irises I say, take them. He looks up at his mom and she quickly turns him around and shoes him away, as if she was terrified to death. True story. So I put the pots out back ont eh south wall and we'll see if they survive winter.

Country Mouse said...

Ooh I'll have to check the hairy honeysuckle and see if it survives. Maybe with a bit of liquid fence for a while...
I hope you can encourage some of your grass-bound neighbors to branch out Benjamin.