March 14, 2014

New Batch of Baby Chicks

I picked up a new batch of chicks a couple weeks ago and haven't gotten around to sharing the news yet.

I have 11 chicks at the moment, but only a portion of them will be staying with me (the rest will go to other chicken owners). In the mix are a Buff Orpington, a Silver Laced Wyandotte, and nine Easter Eggers. I decided to keep only Easter Eggers this time. I think it will be fun because they will all look different and it will be a surprise!

Here are some photos of the chicks when they were 2 weeks old.

Easter Egger

Easter Egger

Easter Egger

Buff Orpington

Silver Laced Wyandotte

March 4, 2014

Grow Your Own Pea Shoots (Part 2)

So here's what happened with the peas I soaked and sowed a couple weeks ago.

They started to send up shoots pretty quickly (day 2 or 3 after sowing the pre-sprouted seeds).

I went on vacation for 5 days and when I got back to work, this is how they looked!

The tendrils are very pretty.

I snipped off the shoots and washed them. The shoots were very tasty (they taste just like raw pea pods). I think they would be really elegant in a fancy salad.

I'm going to wait and see if the stubs will re-grow, for a second harvest.

February 28, 2014

Shots from the Greenhouse

It was something like -20F outside this morning (with the windchill), but it's a right around 70F in the greenhouse...a lovely place to work in the cold of winter!

These plants have been potted up by the MSU Horticulture Club, which will be having fundraiser plant sale on April 12 and 13 in the Plant and Soil Sciences Building on MSU's campus. 

Coleus, lots and lots of coleus!


Hypoestes (polka dot plant)

Oxalis and coleus


February 21, 2014

Potting Up Succulents

We have quite an inventory of succulents at work right now. I spent a little time potting some of them up into clay pots, since they seem to sell better in clay pots than in plastic pots.

February 19, 2014

Temporary Tree Frog

We found a tree frog at the bottom of a pallet of potting mix bags. I relocated him to our indoor butterfly house. There currently are no butterflies in the house since we only have them for a couple months each year.

Unfortunately, I found out that these guys can eat 2 or 3 butterflies a day during the exhibit. We think there are up to 6 tree frogs in the butterfly house, so that means 12 to 18 dead butterflies a day. The butterflies cost somewhere around $5 each (we buy the chrysalis), so that's a lot of money! I think we're going to have to try to hunt down all the tree frogs in the next couple weeks and relocate them.

February 17, 2014

Grow Your Own Pea Shoots

I'm getting ready to teach a class on growing sprouts, shoots, and microgreens in mid-March, so I've been experimenting with a lot of different types of seeds and methods for growing them.  Most recently, I'm experimenting with growing pea shoots. I've never eaten them, so I'm excited to try some once they're ready.

I bought a 2 pound back of dried green peas from an ethnic food store (they whole bag was only $2.50). I soaked the peas overnight, then rinsed them every 12 hours for the next two days. At that point, they looked like this:

Then I spread them thickly over some potting mix.

And covered them very lightly with some more potting mix.

I left the pot in the mist-house at work over the weekend, so I'll update once I take more photos of the progress.

February 12, 2014

Massive Quantities of Succulents!

Last fall, the Horticulture Gardens acquired a bunch of leftover succulents from one of the undergraduate classes. I've been nursing them along in the greenhouse all winter. I started taking cuttings a few weeks ago, since I was to propagate enough to use some of them out in the garden displays.

We currently have almost an entire greenhouse bench of succulents, with about a dozen varieties. There are more trays in the propagation house rooting out.

I learned that these Aloe vera are carrying a common virus that caused black spots on some of the leaves. It's mostly an aesthetic issue, not harmful to any other plants, so we will keep them as long as they look good. I'm planning on using some of these in outdoor containers in some of our hotter areas of the garden.

These hens and chicks are doing really well, they've grown a ton since we first planted them. This is a mixture of varieties so some of them have cool purple coloration.

This variety was growing very spindly, so I cut them back hard (and used the cuttings for propagation). They are already starting to branch out from being pinched.

 This Crassula 'Campfire' is one of the faster growing varieties, so I'm going to use it in the display gardens. It goes through a rainbow of colors during the growing season.

This Senicio is also one of the faster growing varieties, so I'm hoping to include it in some outdoor containers this summer.

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