‘Winterwunder’ and ‘Arctic King’ sowed indoors January 8

I probably sowed these seeds way earlier than I needed to, because look, they’re two months old and still babies.  Whatever.  They’re fully hardened off – they’ve been outside in their flat along with various alliums and I only brought them in one or two nights when it dipped well below freezing.  Basically, I’ve been dragging my feet on preparing this bed for them.  I needed to rake off all the wood chip mulch that was here, then level the soil a bit and actually add some soil to bring the level up above the rest of the wood chips surrounding it, and I didn’t want to do any of that while the soil was super heavy sticky wet.  So after a couple dry days, I finally did it.

Here’s the bed.  It used to have a 2×6 wood edge around it like all my vegetable beds, and (it took me forever) I finally decided to remove the wood and allow this bed to become a more natural shape which will feel a lot better in the front yard.  This is actually the sunniest bed of all, but it’s also the most visible, and since it’s part of the front yard I like to grow things that look pretty here, like brassicas and eggplants and alliums.

I stood on a car for this

Eventually I’ll move some of those rocks around and shoot for something more kidney-shaped.

One thing that’s good about having a couple of vegetable beds out front is that the ducks don’t come to the front yard unless I’m with them.  So I can safely plant seedlings and not have to fence them off to prevent them getting trampled or eaten.

Oh you’re wondering about all those gallon nursery pots? Hostas, every single one of them.  This is the ridiculous horde of hostas I got at Fred Meyer last summer because they were $2 each and I apparently had $50 burning a hole in my pocket.  These will all go over to Wichita Ave, because she loves hostas, and the north side of her house just begs for a whole bed of them.  Okay I might keep one ‘Sum & Substance’ just because it’s insane and chartreuse.

Other fun tasks for the day included cutting last year’s (mostly) dead stems of Gaura and no I’m not calling it Oenothera yet.

I leave them in place as long as I can stand it because I love this

Grassing.  There is no “weeding” in my front garden.  The only “weed” is grass.  So I grassed.

Bye grass. That’s Arctostaphylos ‘Howard McMinn’ and and artichoke which I just adore

The moles, the moles are here.  Hi moles!

I found about 15 of these

But you know what? I’ve decided I’m going to work with the moles, not against them.  I’ve managed to convince myself that they’re the primary reason the lavenders are so happy in this area which has very dense, hard, clay soil.  Moles as soil aerators and creators of better drainage. Sure, why not?

I also took some of that mass of Angelina sedum and threw them around a bit.

sorry bout that thumb

And lastly my neighbor’s Kanzan cherry is about to burst open.  I love this bud phase!


That’s it for today. Stay tuned for some REALLY fun stuff upcoming at Wichita Ave!!

Grafting Tomatoes: update

Did you think this would go super-perfect? HA! Did I? Actually, admittedly, I did.

Turns out, other plans were in store!

Ok here’s the best pic I can come up with:

this looks better than it is

So the success rate on the grafts is exactly 50%.  LAME.

What happened, you ask? I’ll tell you.  The rootstocks failed in that they experienced damping off.  I am nearly certain this was due to me leaving the dome cover on for too long.  Really high humidity and also high temps = they mushed.  The fact that the rootstock stem diameter was generally around 75-80% of the scion stem diameter didn’t help; they had to hold all that up and I didn’t give them stakes initially.

But, whatever, this is why I started and grafted more than I really need.

I started this post on March 8, so two days ago.  It’s now the 10th and things are actually looking even better.

there are 9 successfully grafted plants here

Some of the graft attempts failed completely in that the rootstock rotted and the scion also died. But with some of them, the scions made adventitious roots more or less at the graft point, so where those rootstocks died, I took the scions back off and stuck them in the medium; they’ll re-grow more roots and make it just fine.  These plants are quite flexible.

successful grafts!


In the above photo you can see three successful grafts, and the one shorter plant over on the right in back? That’s a scion whose rootstock died, but it made roots anyway and now it’s going fine after being re-inserted into the cell.

So here they are: 9 successful grafts, and another handful of scions that lost their rootstocks.  They all look pretty good at this point I think.  The tall ones here are the successful grafts and the shorties are the scions I re-stuck.  I realize it’s hard to tell who is tall and who is short; you have to just trust me on this.

In other news, I went ahead and up-potted the remaining tomatoes that are own-root non-graft virgins; a total of 8 plants and one of them is a rootstock which I’ll grow out because science (it’s actually the smallest one in lower right):


And, the peppers!! OMG.


I will have to up-pot those really soon.  They’re all Capsicum annuum cultivars, so I can be pretty loose with them compared to C. chinensis.  They can take more cold, in other words.  On the far left there is a row of eggplants too.

Speaking of Capsicum chinensis, Justin brought me some seeds for super-hots again this year.  I will graft some of these to a set of tomato rootstock seeds I just sowed about 4 days ago (they’re not up yet).  Timing seems key, to ensure that the stem thickness is matched — I hope I’ll be able to nail this; there isn’t much wiggle room with these C. chinensis dudes, since I didn’t get the seeds until February 23.  But hey! We’re earlier than last year.  Here they are:

Super hot peppers: Carolina Reapers, Chocolate Bhutlah, and a Trinidad Douglah x Trinidad Scorpion hybrid.  Very quick germination this year as opposed to last. Not sure why.

I expect eventual 100% germination on these, or close to it.  I’m crossing my fingers that the rootstock seeds I sowed will catch up and when the matching diameter is achieved, I’ll graft at least two plants.

Today, March 10, I also sowed:

  • More lettuce (romaine, 2 varieties)
  • Sweet peas (first time ever growing these!)
  • eating peas
  • celery

And with 70-degree weather coming up tomorrow and the next day I am DYING to do some actual outdoor gardening, as I suspect we all are here in the northern hemisphere! I’m going to set some lettuce and onion/leek/shallot starts out into the front yard.

Grafting Tomatoes

Ok as promised, I’m documenting the process of grafting tomatoes.  I started these from seed on February 4th.   The instruction handout from Territorial (my seed source for all of ’em) said to do the grafting when they have two true leaves and the stems are between 1.5 and 2 mm.  Well, I’m not sure if “two true leaves” means exactly two (as in one set) or two *sets* of true leaves, so we’re right in between that here.  And as for the diameter of the stems, well, the rootstocks are slightly smaller than the scion stock but they’re all around 2mm.

After re-reading the handout, I realized that I’d made a mistake in sowing the rootstock into a tray along with the scion stock as well as some eggplants — after grafting, the recovering seedling are supposed to be kept in a relatively dark place at 80F for a week, and with high humidity.  Uhh.. so I don’t want to do that to the eggplants and the few tomatoes I’m not going to graft.

So, unfortunately, this means I have to transplant/move my rootstocks to a new tray before I graft them.  There will be root disturbance.  But hey! They’re ROOTstocks, so, they oughta be able to handle that, right?  Let’s hope.  Here’s what I’m gonna do… Move 18 of the 19 rootstocks that are ready to graft into the tray on the right.  Then graft.

I’m frickin terrified of this


Ok so I did that.  Since there were only 18 I put them in groups of 6 so I could easily access them to do the actual cutting and pasting.  Root disturbance was variable and honestly, having transplanted approximately five zillion tomatoes over the course of my life I don’t feel like any of them will suffer too greatly.

All moved

Oh and yeah, we’re doing this in the kitchen.  Don’t tell David.  He’s in Astoria tonight playing a gig with KFH so I can make a mess of his kitchen. I’ll clean tomorrow before he gets home.

By the way if you’re curious what I’m using for a rootstock, it’s Supernatural F1 from Territorial.  The packet says it has 20 seeds but it actually contained 19 (unless I lost one?).  I got 100% germination from those 19, but one of them took quite a bit longer than the others, and you can see that little baby in the pic here – it’s the little one in the upper left there.







One down.. This is Sungold

See how the rootstock is smaller diameter than the scion? I think that’ll end up being ok. I mean I hope.

This next one is Black Krim.  The scion has some anthocyanins that make it purple, and easy to differentiate from the rootstock.  I hope this is sufficient..



This is weird and sad, but necessary


all done


Sigh.. this is weird..

Ok, so now that it’s done, where do they go? Hey! It turns out that the top of the T-5 in my little grow-room in my office is a very warm and relatively dark-ish place.  Let’s do that.

It’s 75F up there


Oh yeah, I need to mention the process of labeling.  We like to make diagrams – I’ll just let this picture tell the story.  Here you can also see the carnage of the rootstock plants’ leaves.  Why does this make me feel so strangely sad? I think I’ll order another packet of rootstock seeds, because I’d like to try grafting some of the super-hot peppers my friend Justin wants me to grow, and I want to grow out one rootstock plant just by itself, to see what it’s like.


And then there’s this strange clear-cut, which is both painful and very hopeful.

Scion stock and the tomatoes that won’t get grafted

What’s hopeful (aside from the tomato seedlings here that will get to grow on happily) is that I get some more space in my seeding area to start new things! What should I start now? Flowers? Brassicas? More aubergines? I’ll think on this for a while but if anyone has any brilliant ideas I’m game.

Cross your fingers for these little guys…


See ya ’round!



24 hours after grafting they are looking frighteningly wilt-y.

And as you can see above there’s no lack of moisture.


Nothing to do but wait… And then this morning:

Boing! Turgidity!

So, clearly water is being conducted through the graft unions.  A good start!