Friday, 11 February 2011

GARDENING ~ NASTURTIUMS ~ Growing A Pail of Posies!

Although there is still a blanket of deep snow on the ground in our part of Saskatchewan, Alisdair is trying his hand at gardening! 

We were in the pharmacy, earlier this week, as he needed antibiotics to combat his upper respiratory chest infection.  While we were waiting for the prescription to be filled, Alisdair spied this cute little "Pail of Posies."  Since he has a deep affection for Nasturtiums and has tried to grow them outdoors, in the garden, with little success, we couldn't resist trying to cultivate them once more.  (I think we planted the seeds too late in the season, so although we got a lot of green foliage, we never got any blooms).  Apparently Alisdair's great-grandmother, Evelyn Sloan, always used to grow Nasturtiums and so he wants to carry on the family tradition.

Pail of Posies Kit

The kit contained the following items:

Contents: Instructions, plastic liner, red tin pail,
two dehydrated peat pellets, Nasturtium JEWEL MIX seeds,
 and a lid to cover until germination occurs

On Tuesday, February 8th, Alisdair followed the directions to the letter.  Measuring the water and even setting a timer to calculate how long to leave the pellets soaking prior to planting!

One pellet in 2/3rd cup of hot water

First pellet has expanded.
 Adding second pellet but no additional water.
After 3 hours fluffing up the peat with a fork.
Adding rehydrated peat to the plastic liner 
Adding Nasturtium seeds

Partially covered Nasturtium seeds in plastic liner

Plastic liner replaced in pail. 
Seeds have been watered and lid replaced
 to assist with the germination process.  Now to wait for 10 - 14 days!

When we see green sprouts, we can throw away the lid and expose the plants to the sunlight.  Later, when they get bigger, the flowers will need to be transplanted into a larger pot.  Watch for further posts on our greenhouse experiment!

Nasturtiums look like this when they are in bloom:

Aren't they pretty??

According to the Gardening website, "Nasturtiums are loved for their rich, saturated jewel-toned colors. They are fast and easy to grow and, in fact, do best with a little neglect. There are varieties for almost every gardening purpose: bushy plants for borders and edges, trailing plants for walls and containers and climbers to add dramatic height in a garden. The leaves and flowers are edible, with a peppery tang, and even the seed pods are used as a substitute for capers."
Latin Name: Tropaeolum
Common Name(s): Nasturtium

USDA Zone: Annuals. Some varieties are perennial in USDA Zones 9 - 11.
Size: Varies with variety.
Bushy plants can get to about 12" H - 18" W.
Trailing types grow about 3-4' H.
Climbers can get to 10'+ H.
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Bloom Period:  Early summer through fall in cooler climates.
Fall through spring in milder climates.
Description: Nasturtiums plants grow very full, with spots of brightly colored blossoms poking out of masses of foliage. Leaves are rounded, like a water lily. The flowers are an open funnel shape with a curious little claw or spur on the underside. They are most often seen in rich shades of yellow, orange, pink, red and mahogany but there are also varieties in subdued shades of butter yellow and cream. The ‘Alaska’ Series and the climbing ‘Jewel of Africa’ have variegated leaves.
Design Tips: Nasturtiums will spill beautifully over walls and onto pavers, when used as edging plants. They also hold up very well in containers. Climbing varieties, such as ‘Canary Creeper’ will amble up and through shrubs. Bushy, ground hugging plants will fill in blooming gaps among complementary colored day lilies and roses. And you can use clusters to brighten up the vegetable garden.
Cultural Notes:  Nasturtiums are usually started from seed, so you won’t often find them available as plants, at nurseries. However, the seed germinate quickly and the plants will be up and blooming in little time. Seeds can be sown directly in the garden, when the soil has warmed, or started indoors about 2-4 weeks earlier. Nasturtiums don’t especially like being transplanted, so starting indoor seedlings in peat pots will reduce transplant shock. Once planted, they tend to take care of themselves.
Maintenance: Nasturtiums like regular weekly waterings. They will survive some drought conditions, but flowering will diminish and the foliage can begin to look ratty.
  • Deadheading is not usually necessary, unless a plant has been stressed and is holding on to spent blooms.
  • They do, however, thrive in lean soil. Don’t feed nasturtium plants at all during the growing season. Fertilizer causes them to put out more foliage and less flowers.
  • Pests & Diseases: Nasturtiums are very prone to aphids and are sometimes used as a trap crop in vegetable gardens. A strong blast of water is usually enough to get rid of the aphids. They can also be prone to flea beetles, slugs and the caterpillars of cabbage white butterflies.

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