Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Q & A

I thought I'd take the opportunity to answer a few questions I've received.... yes, I should have been on top of this sooner but better late then never!  As many of you know, I start quite a few of my flowers from seed.  This year it included zinnias, marigolds, wave petunias, white impatiens, pink impatiens, hollyhocks, bachelor buttons, sunflowers, sweet peas, and alyssum.... I think that was it....

I get my impatien seeds from Park Seed, a fantastic seed company that's been around for about 140 years.  They are located in South Carolina.  They are the only place online or in person that I have found that has all white impatiens seeds.  I didn't want a mix of colors when I went search a few years ago.  I also purchased my wave petunias from Park Seed this year. 

I start my impatiens, as well as the petunias this year, inside in my south facing enclosed front porch.  This year I planted 390 impatiens and 30 wave petunias.  I had a good percentage of them germinate and make it to be planted outside.  Both of these flowers take a LONG time to germinate.  I try to start them by the beginning of March or so... which means they're read to go outside around Mother's Day... the earliest I put impatiens out around here.

I also got a few new types of zinnias from Park Seed.  Others picked some up locally... Ed Hume and Lilly Miller are sold around here.  My Envy (green) zinnias came from Burpee (online ordering) and my new fav, the above Tequilla Lime came from Park Seed as did the Mumsy Marigolds.  My sunflower seeds were also a mix of local and Burpee online.  I always plant some of the Teddy Bear variety as well as varieties that are good for cutting.

I keep a garden journal every year.... in it I keep track of what brand of seeds I used, when and how I planted them... and how they did.  It really helps the following year when I'm looking for that one special flower that I liked a previous year.  For instance, this year I purchased many of my sweet peas from Park Seed.  They were the best ones I've ever had for cutting.  They have a much longer "stem" than types I've grown in the past... they will definitely be on my list for next year.

I'm a lazy Dahlia grower. 

I don't dig them up like many say to... they are a tuberous "root" and many people store them over the winter.   Mine ARE under the overhang of the chicken coop in very sandy soil, so they stay very dry over the winter... not digging them up may not work depending on where you live. 

I also only try to stake the big, dinner plate kind.  They're so huge that they fall over if you don't.

Yes, you can grow peaches in Western Washington.  The variety we have is meant for braving our wetter, milder weather.  Some of you may not know that in Eastern Washington, peaches are a big crop.  Our peaches are in a fairly protected area from our wintry, Northeast wind.... just south of our barn.  They will probably take years to have a stellar crop, but that's ok... we can wait.

If you're looking to try starting your own flowers from seed... marigolds and zinnias are very easy to grow.  I do start mine in my unheated greenhouse, not directly in the ground but even here in a cooler climate they can be started directly in the ground, you just won't have any quite as early as starting them "indoors". 

I use a couple of different mediums for seed starting.  I buy the "jiffy" pellet like things that you soak in warm water before using... they are easy to use... both for seed planting and when it comes time to plant them in the gardens.  The drawback is the little meshy stuff doesn't compost.  This year I only used those for my impatien seeds since they are a much more delicate plant.  This year I tried something new.  I made pots out of newspaper strips using a wooden potmaker.  It worked really well and the newspaper definitely is composting when the starts are planted.  It is a little time consuming to make the pots but it will give me something to do in January after the holidays are over!

I'm a trial and error gardener... some years it's more error than success... One of the things I do that i think makes the biggest difference in my gardens is that in the spring and summer I water EVERYTHING by hand, almost everyday.  I think this makes the biggest difference in gardening.  I only use a fertilizer (think Miracle Grow and Osmocote) in my hanging baskets and planters... not in the flower beds.  I just use composted manure/mulch in the flower beds.  Our soil is a very sandy loam and the plants all need the extra nutrients from compost since much of the nutrients don't hold in the sandy soil.

Peaches and Dreams Hollyhocks is my favorite.  I purchased seeds from Park Seed 3 or 4 years ago and planted them in front of our chicken coop (south facing)... now they come back all on their own.  I do have to move a few around if they come up where I don't want them!

Red Gate Farm?  Nope, there isn't a red gate to be found.  I'm just a lover of books and grew up reading Nancy Drew.  My husband wants to name our place Bouchard Gardens... a take on Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island.... I'm thinking he's stuck with Red Gate Farm now!

And last, my camera... it's just a little "point and shoot" Nikon.... nothing fancy.  I don't usually edit my pictures except for the occasional cropping of something "unwanted"... like a wandering dog through a photo.  I take a ton of pictures and use the ones I like the best....

I hope you enjoyed my Q & A, as well as the cutting and arranging of a little arrangement for my kitchen.  My vintage sink makes a fabulous place for cutting and arranging my fresh from the garden blooms. 

Looking forward to warm, sunny days here in the Pacific Northwest... all the way through the weekend,

linking up to


  1. Chris~ I wish I had your green thumb!
    My mother was an amazing gardner!!
    And your Dahlia's are simply stunning!!!

  2. Whenever I see pics of your place I think "Where does she find the time"? It is more than just having a green thumb...tons and tons of time and work!...It is beautiful and glad that you share it with us..

    Where to purchase. . .
    How to plant based on flower . . .
    Much more,
    Thank YOU!
    (One question, when do you order? This is MY reference for January)

  4. You are so passionate about what you do, and it blooms beautifully:)

  5. Everything is always so pretty here! Thanks for sharing!

  6. You have the most amazing cutting garden blooms! thanks for sharing your secret over here at Cottage Flora Thursday's - i'll have to look them up! oxox, tracie

  7. It's incredible that you grow so many flowers from seed. They and really beautiful. It must give you such a sense of pleasure and accomplishment when you see them bloom.

  8. Gosh, that was so inspiring to me! Your flowers are wonderful.. and I'd really really love to have a little greenhouse someday. I need to keep this for reference :) Thanks for sharing - enjoyed it! -Tammy

  9. Just finished reading The Secret of Red Gate Farm to my daughter and am so enjoying another trip through the series!


Please, feel free to leave a comment... it really makes my day! Chris