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Tiny Cactuses

October 8th, 2011

Remember back in the spring when I started a flat of cactus seeds? I ended up with six or seven tiny plants from my pack of seeds. In May I moved the flat out to the front porch so they could get some sun and warmth. Little did I know, our little outdoor cat thought this flat was her new bed. When I finally discovered what she was doing, there were only two tiny cactus plants that survived. I quickly planted them in tiny pots and put them in a sheltered place on the front porch so they wouldn’t get knocked over or trampled.

They stayed out all summer long and grew very slowly. I just transplanted them to slightly larger pots before bringing them in for the winter. Even though they’re 10 times bigger than they were this spring, they’re still teeny tiny little plants.

Just how tiny are these little plants? Here’s a penny for scale:

I love that even though they’re still so tiny, they’re so different, it takes a macro lens to see those differences fully. It may take a while for these to get to a noticeable size, but that’s OK. I think they’re kind a cute. I certainly won’t have to worry about making room for them in the living room since they won’t take up any space at all!

There’s something so interesting about tiny plants. I have a collection of miniature herbs in the garden, each of them growing no taller than a centimeter. Among these are a few different varieties of creeping thyme, Scotch moss and Corsican mint. Plants come in such a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes, I’m happy to have some of each here at Chiot’s Run.

Do you have any favorite teeny tiny plants?

A Dream Come True

May 26th, 2011

I’ve always loved boxwood hedges and have always dreamed of having one in my garden someday. I never knew quite where I would put it and the cost has always kept me from doing it, until now.

Yesterday afternoon the UPS man delivered seven ‘Wintergreen’ boxwoods and my dream of having a boxwood hedge will be a reality. I have two places I’m considering putting it. If I put it around my my Montmorency cherry I’ll have enough plants. I’m also considering placing in front that area that had the cover crop on it. This will become a large asparagus bed and I think a low box hedge would look really great with the asparagus ferns behind it.

‘Wintergreen’ boxwood (also known as Korean boxwood) is supposed to keep it’s green color better throughout the winter, which is a bonus here with our cold winters. It’s a more compact form for boxwood and can grow 3-4 feet tall and 4-5 feet wide. It’s a slow growing plant, only growing 4-8 inches per year.

I can’t wait to get these planted. It will take years for them to mature into a nice hedge, but at least I’m finally getting my dream of a boxwood hedge in the garden.

What’s a garden dream you’ve always had?

Better Late than Never

May 19th, 2011

This year spring has been lagging a bit and so have I when it comes to getting all my warm season crops started. According to my seed starting calculator I should have started my zucchini, squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, basil, zinnias, and all kinds of other things about a month ago. And yet my seed starting trays sit empty, my soil blocker lays dormant, and the seeds are still nestled in their packets on the dresser in my dining room table. Why? I’ve been busy, busy, busy.

Sometimes life allows you to start seeds exactly 4 weeks before frost sometimes it doesn’t. A gardener can decide that time spent improving the soil is better than seeding plants. The weather can change your plans as well. Rain will fall just often enough so that the soil never dries enough to start planting when you should. And sometimes gardeners plan to go on vacation right when they shouldn’t, in the middle of summer. Now they must adjust projected harvests around their plans.

Plants are forgiving though, they don’t get impatient. They’ll grow like gangbusters if given the right conditions and will produce beautifully even if you get them planted a few weeks late. Sometimes I think starting things in pots in the house sets them back (I haven’t done any testing but I’d love to some day when I have the time). This year I’ll be direct seeding most of my squash simple because I didn’t have time to plant them indoors a few weeks ago. The corn will go in a little late so it’s not ripe while we’re on vacation. I don’t think they’ll mind at all, and maybe they’ll be better off because of it – we shall see!

How’s your garden going so far this year? Are you getting everything in on time?

New Rhubarb for the Garden

May 12th, 2011

This year I decided to purchase a few new varieties of rhubarb for the garden. I did some research and settled on ‘MacDonald’. I finally found some from available Nourse Farms. ‘MacDonald’ Rhubarb is described as: an excellent producer for commercial growers and home gardeners. This very vigorous, upright growing strain produces large, tender stalks and has acceptable red color. Shows resistance to root-rot problems.

I decided to get some of the other variety they sell as well. ‘Cawood Delite’ Rhubarb is not as vigorous as MacDonald, but has deeper red color and slightly thicker stalks. Cawood Delight has a stout growth habit that will excel in northern areas. It may struggle in areas with long periods of high heat. We have had a lot of positive feedback on this variety from commercial growers and home gardeners.

I also have some heirloom ‘Victoria’ Rhubarb in my garden which I started from seed 2 years ago (source: Baker Creek). ‘Victoria’ has thick stalks are popular for making delicious pies, cobbler and preserves. This variety can be harvested starting as soon as the 2nd season. It’s more green than red and fairly tart.

Last year one of my rhubarb plants bloomed, it was quite impressive. The seeds were quite lovely as well, they were like little earrings hanging on the plant. You’re not supposed to let the plant bloom I read after it bloomed *OOPS*. Looks like we’ll be able to enjoy our fill of rhubarb in a few years! I’m really looking forward to tasting the different varieties side by side!

Are you able to grow rhubarb in your garden? What’s your favorite way to eat it?

New Plants for the Garden

April 5th, 2011

Now that I have more doubled my garden area I need to start getting plants to fill the new part. I’ll propagate most of them myself from plants I already have or from mom’s plants which will save me a lot of money. It will take longer for these plants to grow and mature, but gardening isn’t about instant gratification. I’ll also start a lot of plants from seed and divide many of my exciting perennials. I will purchase a few new plants that I’ve been wanting to get, but haven’t had the garden space for.

If you remember, I have a fascination with hydrangeas and have amassed a collection of 10 different varieties so far. I just purchased 3 new varieties to add to my collection: ‘Teller’s Blue’ Hydrangea – a blue lace-cap hydrangea, ‘Princess Beatrix’ Hydrangea – produces beautiful crimson-pink blooms, and ‘Penny Mac’ Hydrangea – will flower in the coldest zones because of its ability to produce flowers on new growth.

I also bought a few tree peonies. Two different varieties ‘Ge Jin Zi’ or Purple Kudzu Scarf and ‘Wu Long Peng Sheng’ also known as Black Dragon Holds a Splendid Flower. I’m super excited for these as I’ve been wanting to get a tree peony for quite a while.

Have you purchased any new plants recently? Any that you’ve been wanting to purchase?


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.