After waiting for what seemed like forever for it to stop freezing/snowing, I finally planted up three recycled tire planters Flat Tire Decor sent us way over ten years ago. They are no longer in business sadly, but the fact that I still have them means they didn’t fall apart and I actually use them. This past spring I started a bunch of stuff inside during my Seed Starting Spree including two types of Cerinthe and three types of annual cornflowers all from Select Seeds. The sexy Viola ‘Tiger Eye’ came from Klein’s here in Madison. Since I like to jam more plants than you probably should in to containers I threw in a few random kale babies I had growing, too. For all kinds of good information about Cerinthe in general (it’s related to borage) and growing it in Wisconsin check out this UW-Extension page. Shout out to the UW-Horticulture Extension for having such a wonderful online resource for gardening in Wisconsin.
Look at all those cute baby plants about a week before I planted them out. I was pretty antsy to start cool weather annuals and started all the guys above except the Viola in early/mid-March, and was hoping I would have been able to plant them out mid-April instead of almost-May, but it gave me plenty of time to get stuff ready for life on the outside.
I love progress pictures of stuff growing, so here are the containers on April 28th, May 17th and June 7th. I stuffed some extra kale mix babies I had around since I love to jam tons of stuff in to small spots and let them fight it out. There’s a little Osmocote slow release fertilizer in there, along with some sketchy “potting soil” I bought being a cheapskate. I immediately regretted it and ended up mixing in some seed starting mix I had laying around to make it a little less horrible.
Annual cornflowers are SUPER easy to grow from seed and the pollinators love them. I’ve been successfully jamming them in containers for years. They’re super tough in the ground, and even frost tolerant. Normally I grow the standard “cornflower blue” double, ‘Blue Diadem’ for that fabulous blue, but when I saw the words ‘Ultraviolet Select’ I knew I had to give it a shot. So far so good. I’ve only had one, lame white flowered plant pop out of the batch. I’m always a little nervous about how true to form new seeds are after Nasturtium ‘Phoenix’ made me mad several years ago. I’m not sure where I got the seed from when it first started making the rounds, but my current batch from Select Seeds is flowering like it should. That’s part of the seed starting fun. There are always a few weirdos in the bunch.
More progress pictures from June 19th (check out the fun orangey lillies poking over the railing), June 21st and June 29th. They’re looking a little scrappy these days, which is fine by me as I plan on flipping them to something half price from the nursery. I’m thinking something that likes hot rubber pots with decent potting soil. I’ve ripped off the ugly yellow bottom leaves on the Cerinthe, so it’s a little cuter. They’re easy to crack off with your hands. The bumblebees are still digging it, so I’m going to let them go and collect seed for another round.
This is not the first time cabbage loopers have had a party on one of my brassicas, but they really did a number on all the kale in the containers. I don’t do anything for outdoor plant pests except swear at them. Bunnies hopped up and ate a couple lettuce plants in a container at the bottom of the stairs. I planted some extra Kale ‘Crane Red’ at my friends house a few blocks away and they’re perfect.
The main reason I grow Cerinthe is because bumblebees LOVE it and I love bumblebees. It’s rare that I get the urge to put up a TikTok video, but this bumble video made me do it. Pretty soon I’ll be making videos about my zinnias.
At the end of April we found out that our two flat rental house was going on the market. We’re staying another year, but the person who was in charge of the garden in the questionable third floor unit had to move out in June. That means I’ve jammed plants in every corner of the front and backyard like a crazy person. My dreams of growing every heat loving annual I couldn’t have come true. Above you can see some Cerinthe, cornflowers and lots of other friends looking happy in the ground. The ugly chain link fence has seven different types of pickling cucumbers planted all along it and even some sweet peas who took their sweet ass time finally growing up it. I jammed tomatoes, basil, summer squash, you name it all over the place along with tons of cutting garden flowers.
The first time I heard about Cerinthe was back in San Francisco 2010. It’s so easy to start from seed and will joyfully reseed for years unless it’s the super-ultra-cool Cerinthe retorta that never did for me (I’ll take seeds if anyone has any). I’m happy to see that it does alright here in Wisconsin and that the bumbles here love it, too.
Here I am 12 years ago joyfully yanking a giant one out to make room for something new. This picture makes me want to grow Eccremocarpus scaber again. All 99 of our Cerinthe pictures are here on Flickr if you want to see more. More annual cornflower updates to come (you saw how many I started, I have them everywhere) soon including the ones that lived through being munched on by large animals in our community garden plot.