How to save flower seeds and plant garlic
And notes from YOUR gardening seasons
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A few weeks back, I wrote about saving vegetable seeds. Now it’s time to harvest and save your annual and perennial flower seeds. Seriously, why waste money on new plants every year when you can make your own for free?
You can collect seeds from podding plants like California poppy, cleome, impatiens and Texas bluebonnets, those with prickly seed heads like Mexican sunflowers and coneflowers, and flowers with seed rods in their centers, like marigolds. I break down the differences and detail the process for each here.
It’s also prime garlic-planting time in much of the country. I recently conducted a deep dive into Google’s search trends, comparing Americans’ interest in growing garlic with interest in growing other fall-planted bulbs, like tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocus. Surely, colorful blooms would trump the spicy, pungent vegetable.
No. When people used the search term “how to grow...,” garlic was the frontrunner compared to those spring bulb plants. I was so gobsmacked that for the first time in my life, I used the word “gobsmacked.” And that’s saying something.
Could it be that Americans have a previously undisclosed obsession with garlic? Or are we collectively perplexed about how to grow it? I love garlic as much as the next girl, but I suspect it’s the latter, which would explain all the “how to” queries.
Growing garlic is actually very easy, but there are a few things you need to know before you get started. You can read my primer on planting and growing garlic here.
🎄🕎 Coming Next Week
It’s that time of year again, so I’m busy compiling my favorite holiday gift recommendations for gardeners. Stand by!
Ask Tell Jessica
After fessing up about my disastrous season a few weeks ago, I asked you all to let me know how your gardens fared this year. Here’s a sampling of responses:
“My perennials didn’t do too well, and I had to water every other day. What I learned from you this week — the Leyland cypress experience — horrified me!” writes a reader named Pam. “Mine are mature (finally after three years), and my gardener wants to trim them. Your experience came just in time for me. He will not be butchering my evergreens!”
Frank Giordano of Seaford, NY, wrote, “The summer’s dry heat made my lawn look the worst it has in many years. And my fig tree, initially looking very promising, gave one nice sweet harvest instead of the dozens I can usually pick daily for a few weeks. Only once, one day, and after that, nothing! It reminded me how important water is to the growth of everything!”
“Thanks for your honesty!” writes reader Ellen Christie after reading the post about my devastating gardening season. “This has been my vegetable garden’s least productive year. And, ditto on purple or black tomatoes.”
“I grew 40 tomato plants. This year my favorite was the Japanese black truffle. It will change your mindset regarding “black” tomatoes!” —Susan Lara
From Nancy Purdy of Purdy Ponds in Oregon: “I resisted for three years and finally acquired an electric wire “kit” for around our pond. It works beautifully to keep the raccoons out of the pond (and from shredding the water lilies as they search for fish). The kit includes a transformer, dark brown plastic stakes and the wire. It was very easy to install. Perhaps it could be adapted to protect other products.
“I want to thank you for your helpful tips,” writes reader Annmarie Barakat.
I put my green tomatoes in a box with a banana like you said and covered them with a towel. They are getting red!”
“This year, the woodchucks started early, writes Bob Maynes of Miller Place, NY. “I had seven beautiful tall eggplant transplants, which were the first victims. So I grew four new plants elevated on an old teak folding table in a large pot. We have harvested about seven, and there are 13 eggplants currently on the plants. I hope they get big enough before the frost.
Next, the squirrels wiped out about 600 pears. Every single one. They even started eating them, not just biting and dropping.
Now the woodchucks moved on to 18 zucchini and varied winter squash.
I had two ebony acorns on one plant, about baseball size. I thought I should grab them as they were about ready. No. A woodchuck ate them both later that day.
Then my beloved songbirds learned how much they love tomatoes. In the past, there was some loss, but we still had plenty for the family and some friends.
Something also started on the cucumbers, but we had enough. Great year for hummingbirds. They loved the blue salvias and cigar plant. I saw one yesterday, which I am guessing was a migrator from the North. Thank you for your emails!”
💡 If you do one thing this week…
Divide and transplant any spring- or summer-blooming perennials that are overgrown (but don’t dig up fall-blooming plants until spring).
👏 Sunday shoutout
Creative reader Linda Santorello, who just started to garden in 2020, grew the ingredients for this delicious-looking pie over the summer. “I even started a three-bin compost area and love making my own “dirt,” she writes. “It’s work, but worth it.”
📰This week in my Associated Press gardening column
I write a weekly gardening column for the AP, so you might have seen my byline in your local paper (or news website) — wherever in the world you happen to be. In case you miss it, though, I’ll post the most recent here every week.
This week, I devoted the column to everything you need to know about growing garlic.
Before that, I wrote about planting the “hell strip,” dealing with stressed lawns, when and how to harvest potatoes, how to start a hügelkultur garden, attracting birds, saving Monarch butterflies and a lot more.
You can read all my AP gardening columns here.
📚📺🎵 📚📺🎵 📚📺🎵 📚📺🎵
Some non-gardening things I enjoyed this week
Mr. Harrigan’s Phone on Netflix. This Stephen King-written movie was really good. 10/10, I’d recommend!
30 minutes or less on Netflix. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to watch this 2011 movie, but I’m glad I did. Good, mindless fun!
Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer story on Netflix. Evan Peters and Niecy Nash had better win Emmys for their performances. Controversies aside, I highly recommend this one.
Regina Spektor’s new CD, Home, Before and After. I had tickets to her concert last week, but she came down with Covid-19 and had to cancel the remainder of the tour. I haven’t missed a local shows since 2012, so it’s disappointing, but I wish her a speedy recovery and will catch her when she’s back on the road.
Let’s be friends! Follow me:
@jessicadamiano on Facebook
@jessicadamiano on Twitter
and @jessicadamianoofficial on TikTok, where all the cool kids hang out 😎
📧 How’m I doing?
I welcome your comments and suggestions, so please send them along — as well as any topics you’d like to see covered and questions you’d like answered in the Ask Jessica section.
Until next week, stay safe. Be well. And always keep your mind in the dirt. —Jessica
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