A Spring Slump

I’m in a bit of a gardening slump. My seedlings aren’t growing much. The seeds I planted in the garden a couple weekends ago haven’t come up yet. In fact, many of them have been dug up by the rats!

The only thing that grew a little bit this week is the thyme that I’m trying to propagate through cuttings.


Although I’m a little disappointed, I’ll be leaving Palo Alto at the end of June. (I took a job in Portland!) It’s hard to get too upset over a garden that I won’t be around to enjoy for much longer. I’ll get to re-start seeds all over again in Portland. And hopefully ?? it goes better next time.

Starting Citrus from Seed

Remember my dead kumquats?

Yes, it is finally time to put them to rest.

RIP Kumqats

And plant some more citrus!

Mama Meyer

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve saved some Meyer lemon seeds and blood orange seeds.

I’m doing a test to see if pre-germinating them with the paper towel method is any better than planting directly into soil.

In Plants from Pits, Holly Farrell says to plant citrus seeds directly into soil, but Leslie Halleck, in Plant Parenting says, “Seeds of stone fruits, such as peaches and apricots, nut trees, or citrus seeds, will root more successfully if you pre-sprout them” (emphasis mine). She suggests chitting seeds. I didn’t know what chitting was before reading her book, but I was familiar with “the paper towel method,” which, as it turns out, is the exact same thing. Another term that means the same thing is “greensprouting.”

The paper towel method, for those of you who are not familiar, goes like this:

  1. Wet a paper towel
  2. Fold the seeds up in the wet paper towel
  3. Place the wet paper towel into a plastic bag
  4. Place plastic bag with seeds in paper towel in a warm place
  5. Wait until you see a sprout
  6. Plant the sprouted seeds

People claim this makes for more efficient germination. We shall see…

For my experiment, I planted half of my seeds directly into potting soil, and did the paper towel method with the other half.

Here are the potted seeds — blood orange seeds in the left pot and lemons in the right:

Blood orange seeds in the pot on the left, and meyer lemons on the right

I planted the seeds on one half of the pot, and I’ll put the pre-sprouted “chitted” seeds on the other half, so I can see their side-by-side growth.

Dots illustrate where I direct-planted seeds

I also added a plastic bags over the pots as Plants from Pits recommends.

And now, here’s the chitted version.

I placed the seeds on damp paper towels…

…folded them up and stored them inside of plastic bags.

I started the seeds on March 17th, and have been checking on them every couple of days. No growth to date on either front.

I suspect the chitted seeds will do better, but it’s a little more work to chit seeds, so I’m hoping this experiment will prove me wrong.

Welcome to my Garden

A garden without a gardener is a jungle waiting to happen. But a gardener without a plot to till is likewise a very sorry sight.

Margaret Roach

The last frost date for my city, according to Farmer’s Almanac, is Mar 17th. So I thought it was only fitting to start this blog on March 17. We also happen to be in the midst of a coronarovirus outbreak (COVID-19), which is completely unrelated and occurred after the mental conception of this blog, but is information worth noting for posterity’s sake.

My current garden — or lack thereof — looks a little like this:

Wandering jew (Tradescantia zebrina), avocado grown from pit, pothos, snake plant (Dracena trifasciata)
Ctenanthe (tee-NANTH-ee) aka Prayer plant (Ctenanthe burle-marxii)
Bad lighting. Same window as –>
Spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) flanking lemon trees
Croton (Codiaeum variegatum)
Kumquats grown from seed (probably dead, but I can’t bring myself to get rid of them), a pothos cutting, two pomegrantes grown from seed, and the mother pothos

I live in a walk-out basement apartment and four of my five window sills house plants. Two of windows face south, and one faces west, so the lighting is pretty good for being in a basement.

The majority of my plants were cuttings from various other plants or plants grown from seed/pit. #frugalgardener The only plant I paid for is the croton. I think it was $5 at Swanson’s Nursery in Seattle. When I first bought it, it was about a third of the size it is now. That was maybe 3 years ago? I’m happy with how it’s done so far, but I’m worried it might be at the end of its lifespan. When I first got it, I transplanted it into the black plastic pot that you see it in now. I paired it with a colorful yellow saucer to match its colorful leaves. Aside from water and a bit of fertilizer, that’s all I’ve done for it.

The spider plants are from my dad, as is the ctenanthe. I got the ctenanthe when my dad’s ctenanthe was getting too big for it’s pot, and was split. Spider plants are super easy to grow and propagate from spider babies. I used to have five of them, but have been paring down recently. My dad cuts all his spider babies off – he says it’s bad for the plant. I like the look of them draping over the side of the window sill, and the plants seem to be doing just fine, so I’m leaving them. 

Spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) flanking lemon trees planted from seed

The avocado, lemons, kumquats, and pomegranates are grown from seed.  The kumquats are pretty much dead.

Definitely dead.

Lastly, there are two pothos (cuttings taken from a friend’s roommate’s plant and from a plant at work), a wandering jew (cutting taken from my boyfriend’s coworker’s plants), and a snake plant (stolen from a plant at work, shhh!).

Pothos #1
Pothos #2

Well, that’s all I have to share today. I think it’s time to get rid of the kumquats and plant something else in that pot — I have some Meyer lemon and blood orange seeds that I’d like to try. Stay tuned if you’re interested in seeing how that project turns out, and subscribe below to get notified when I post more.