Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Primula acaulis Germination

It's the last post of the year and I have some new seedlings! I am excited to see that my recently-sown Primula acaulis "Danova Rose-Lavender Shades" seeds have germinated.  I actually want to grow the more hardy Primula auricula, but have failed at that many times.  

I simply sowed these on the surface of the seed-starting mix in a small pot and placed the pot in a humidity dome for a few weeks. The dome sits on a heating mat, which provides bottom heat that some plants like.  Apparently these seeds like the heat too.
I spotted 4 seedlings among the mossy-perlite particles.  Hopefully I can raise these to be healthy little plants.  Although Primula acaulis is listed often as hardy to zone 4 or 5, I am going to try them out here in zone 1b.  Of course, we get a great deal of snow, which provides some winter protection.  Who knows what will happen?

Unfortunately, the snow doesn't keep our cars warm.  This is an issue in our house as RLM has decided against the remote-start feature on our next vehicle.  Maybe -33 degrees Celsius is NOT cold enough for him?  At least our chosen vehicle will have heated seats -- much like my seedlings have been enjoying for years!  

Monday, December 22, 2008

Yule Log Spectacular!

I am pleased to say the yule log was a success, looking very logg-ish and festive. Here it is in all its chocolaty-goodness, surrounded by the little meringue mushrooms. I found the recipe and idea online at on the joy of baking website.

Since this is a garden blog, you should know that I would not post about a simple chocolate cake or non-fungus shaped meringues. I have standards, you know...

I dream of become one of those people who expertly creates pansies or roses out of royal icing. In fact, I have purchased all the needed supplies for becoming a sugar-florist, with the 50-piece Wilton cake-decorating set, icing gel colors, and other paraphernalia. However, I can't justify eating so much cake and sugar on a regular basis. As a kid, I even hated icing. A nice chocolate sponge cake with icing sugar sprinkled on top is provides an ideal amount of sweetness, in my opinion. This I can justify - and my family members thought it was pretty nice too. Do any of you have remarkable icing floral skills?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Still Cold

Upon waking this morning, I heard CBC radio announce the temperature here in La Ronge was -39 degrees C. "But there is no wind", they said. Yes, it's only a still cold.

I made these meringue mushrooms last night. If all goes well, they will decorate the yule log we will eat on Friday night at a family gathering. I am quite impressed at my first attempt at sweet edible fungus made of egg whites.

With temperatures this low, my flight up north was cancelled today. The extreme cold is "hard on the planes", according to the explanation I heard recently. This might explain the experience my dear resident-lawnmower-man had this past week on his chartered plane. Upon landing on a dirt airstrip, there was a strange shudder and a rapid deceleration as the nose of the plane lurched towards the ground. The front tire had burst. Anyone who has a vehicle in cold conditions knows the effect of the cold on usually pliable tires. They get that flat spot on the frozen bottom, making your first kilometer rather bumpy. Anyhow, the pilot and RLM were all okay and the plane got fixed later that day. Ah, the cold. But it's only a still cold.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Orchids for Christmas

The weather has turned cold outside, so we're staying indoors with the orchids. I took a chilly trip by small plane to the northern village of Southend this past week. It was -42 degrees C there and the heaters in the plane were not working on the trip there or back! The brand new Sorel boots didn't even keep my feet warm. Next time, the outfit will see the addition of snowpants and three pairs of wool socks. My head was toasty, however. I've found that multiple hats/hoods over the ipod earbuds enhance the audio quality in a loud plane, resulting in a less-than-attractive appearance. But who cares? This is the north, where high fashion means having a fancy snowmobiling suit.

A yellow phalaenopsis has been blooming for a couple months now:

It has a second spike coming up at the left, so we'll have flowers for several more months.

Dendrobium nobile "Angel Smile" is blooming again, with its lilac-scented white blooms lightly edged in pink.

I have many of these orchids to give away, as this plant often produces little plant-lets along its stems and I pot most of them up to grow into bigger plants. Does anyone want to trade?

How many of you are giving live plants/bulbs for Christmas? I love the idea of giving amaryllis or other bulbs for forcing in the winter. Even if the person is a non-gardener, the colors will be appreciated. Also, there is no clutter left over because when they are done flowering, you can just toss it in the compost. I've decided against giving narcissus though, since I think they stink. My alternative favourite: food gifts.