Spring 2018

I got a late start on my seeds this year because I’ve been busy painting. But I do have black nightshade (or as I have referred to it in the past, The Black Toad) and black henbane sticking their heads up, plus a couple vervain (I’ve been out of vervain seeds for a bit and just ordered more from Europe). Some Nicotiana quadrivalvis, which is the type of wild tobacco that Native people of Western North America used instead of their Nicotiana rustica the Eastern tribes favored, has come up. I’ve grown it once in the past but neglected to collect seed, so I hope that I do get some seeds this year and can share them. Other things I tried to grow have done nothing, like Petunia axillaris, a wild white petunia that I have loved very much but the seeds of which are simply not available wholesale. I was afraid the few seeds I had left were not viable, but I tried again, and now they are coming up. I love the scent of these plants, and I love the way they are quite robust and trailing, unlike the wimpy modern hybrids. Hawkmoths and sphinxmoths love them too, and they are such magical critters. My toloache finally came up too.

I also chose some annuals to grow this year. I have always grown some zinnias and chose Red Sun, along with Empress of India nasturtium (crimson flowers are on darkish leaves) and some bright red marigolds, Disco Red (one of the first plants I ever grew). The older I get, the more I love the really vibrant colors. Especially orange and red!

Meanwhile, I ordered some transplants–some clary sage, rue, black sage (just to see what it’s like and to collect seeds), a BUNCH of dittany of Crete (and hope to have a small amount of herb available in the fall or at least some infused oil). Btw, I highly recommend Mountain Valley Growers, one of the ONLY sources for real Dittany of Crete plants, plus all their plants are consistently of the highest quality. Yes, their shipping is very high, but they pack those babies like they are diamonds; it’s worth it. I buy herbs from them every single year. Check them out.

Others I got for myself, a wormwood plant because I like their color and rosemary because I love the smell. And dried rosemary makes a great incense, great substitute for frankincense and way more sustainable–grow your own!

I managed to save a bunch of black mandrakes that were devastated by insect attack due to overfertilizing and hot blasts from the primitive heater in my loft. They were overwhelmed with aphids, whiteflies, fungus gnats, and even spider mites, for crying out loud, all results of lousy growing conditions. I don’t think I’ve EVER had mandrakes with spider mites. But those little bastards love hot blasts of heaters. So I dug up all the drakes and put them in a bowl of water in the fridge for a week or so to ensure all the insect critters drowned. I repotted them and now they are coming back from dormancy clean of bugs. I also had a couple of plants that never succumbed to the bug onslaught, and they are happy in a south window here. Thank the gods!

Meanwhile, my tropicals are doing fabulously. Various jasmines are climbing up the 14-foot walls in this place and a tiny hoya has made buds! A great source for tropicals, btw, is Kartuz Greenhouse. All my plants from there have done very well and bloomed well in advance of their time. I have a couple of myrtles that are doing very well also. The one thing doing poorly is the Tasmanian violet. I think I will just jettison that plant. It is NOT happy.

I’ve got two raised beds to work with this year, and instead of growing just a whole hell of a lot of peppers and annuals like last year, I hope to have a bunch of witching herbs, especially henbane. I’d love to have some dried henbane this year to sell. And frankly, I just love henbane. Mugwort volunteers are already up in the bed, and it looks like some rudbeckias wintered over.

Hope your spring growing is going well!

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