gabriola garden

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Poppies Starting to Pop, Young Tomatoes Planted

While the young Bean seedlings are starting to climb up the bamboo poles, we are enjoying what promises to be a spectacular show of colorful blooms. The first of our Oriental Poppies (Papaver orientale) has burst forth with a bright red flower.

One of our Chinese neighbors came by the other day and noticed our poppy plants. “Ah, opium,” he said and inquired whether it was legal to grow it here. We hastened to inform him that Oriental Poppies are distinctly different from Opium Poppies (Papaver somniferum), although they look almost exactly the same.

I remember my mother telling me a long time ago that the women in her village in Hungary would rub a tiny bit of poppy seed paste on the gums of particularly restless babies in order to pacify them. Opium poppies must have grown in every garden then, as they still do in many North American gardens, even though it is technically illegal.

The seeds of the variety we grow are not edible. So when you buy a poppy seed bagel at your local deli, you are actually purchasing and consuming Opium poppy seeds. In large enough quantities, these seeds have a tranquillizing effect.

In a strange twist of the law, while it is illegal to grow Opium poppies, it is not illegal to sell or buy the seeds. My curiosity was aroused, so I checked on the web. I stumbled upon an importer in Vancouver that buys huge quantities of Opium poppy seeds from government-controlled plantations in Turkey and the Netherlands. Then they distribute them world-wide.

In addition to the red Oriental Poppies, Sara also planted a variety called “Princess Victoria Louise,” that promises us pale salmon-pink flowers, with black centers. Just like the red variety, it grows about 3 feet tall and blooms in May.

Poppies are herbaceous perennial plants, but they can also be propagated by seed. They are hardy from Zone 3 to 7. If you want the plant to flower again, you must deadhead the plant, which is done by cutting the spent flowers. Otherwise, this plant is self-seeding.

Poppies die down and are dormant in late summer. By then, they will be displaced by the fast growing Scarlet Runner Beans. These will climb and fill every bamboo pole of our annual bean house.

Opium poppies, also known as oilseed poppies, have been used for centuries in healing. Today, alkaloid drugs such as opium, codeine, and heroin are manufactured from this poppy.

With the Tulip Breaking Virus in mind, I checked the susceptibility of the Oriental poppy to diseases. I found that bacterial and viral infections of Poppy are rare. Fungal infections, however, tend to attack the leaves and the capsules of the plant.

Prominent among the fungi that threaten Poppies are Peronospora arborescens that causes Downy Mildew, Pleospora paperveraceae that precipitates Poppy Fire, and Entyloma fuscum, the primary cause of Leaf Smut.

To a lesser degree, Sclerotinia, Fusarium, and Oidium spp (Powdery Mildew) might endanger your Poppies. Be careful not to overwater and water early in the day to allow the plant to dry. These measures go a long way toward preventing fungal infections.

I noticedon the Advanced Nutrients website that an excellent product called Protector is back in circulation. It’s not a chemical fungicide, but it’s better and safer than dusting with sulphur in order to fight and prevent Powdery Mildew. This insidious fungus can be spotted by a sandy coating on your plants.

Left untreated, it can stunt growth, sap plant energy, and reduce yield. By using Protector at a standalone rate of 20 mL per Liter, the spread and growth of Powdery Mildew is inhibited. Do not use beyond the second week of bloom—the inhibiting factor in this product might also change the fragrance and color of your flowers.

Another essential ingredient in our watering tank is Barricade, which helps make the cell walls of Sara’s flowers and my vegetables almost impenetrable, where pests and pathogens are concerned. The Potassium Silicate in this product acts as a barrier to invaders, whether bacterial, viral, or fungal, as well as the sap sucking kind.

Poppy plants love full sun and a well-drained soil. While they prefer temperatures in the range of 21º C (70º F), our temperatures here on Gabriola have been dropping down to around 10º C (50º F) at night, and Sara’s Poppies don’t look any worse for wear.

Since the Poppies are starting to pop, it’s a signal for us to switch to Iguana Juice Bloom, from Iguana Juice Grow. Our 100% organic fertilizer is doing a tremendous job, and will now have to nourish not only the vegetative growth of our plants, but also the bloom stage of Sara’s flowers.

We’ll be doing two different mixes, one with Iguana Juice Bloom for Sara’s flower beds, and one with Iguana Juice Grow for the vegetables that I am in the process of planting. I already mentioned the Scarlet Runner Beans and some Beefsteak Tomatoes. In addition, I plan to grow Cucumbers, Squash, Zucchinis, Peppers, Lettuce, Spinach, and some Herbs. These will include Basil, Cilantro, Parsley, and Sage.

Other plants that are thriving in the same patch as the ill-fated Tulips are a Catmint (Nepeta x faassenii) called “Walker’s Low,” which prefers full sun to bloom late spring to fall. Grows to ten inches tall and loves a well-drained soil. Our cats love to chew on this plant, but not as much as they do on Catnip.

A Campanula called “Blue Bell” (Campanula persicifolia), which will start blooming in June, and hopefully continue to grace us with open blue bell flowers on strong stems until August.

As well as a Sweet William (Dianthus barbaratus) called “Cottage Garden,” a self-seeding biennial that produces a mix of different colored flowers, including white, salmon pink, and red. This dwarf plant grows about a foot high and spreads to about the same width.

Once the bloom cycle sets in we plan to spray with Colossal Bud Blast in order to maximize the size of Sara’s flowers. Plants can be fed important nutrients through the leaves, as well as through their roots.

Colossal Bud Blast has been engineered to deliver bloom enhancement to our plants through the absorbing mechanism of the foliage. It contains organic nutrients and hormones and plays a large role in making Sara’s flower garden the envy of the neighborhood.

posted by Tim at 6:12 PM


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