The season officially starts … FINALLY

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Well… it’s a start!  Finally I made the decision to start the process of opening up the bogs for the 2015 growing season.  I’m not going to sit here and harp about how cold and snowy this winter was or how it was relentless or how we’re at least two weeks or more behind… I’m going to focus on the positive!  Everything looks just fine!  AMAZING!  Coldest February EVER recorded in Niagara and the plants look fresh an healthy!  Guys and Gals…. I’m convinced these plants are very, VERY hardy!  So those of you who have been fearing making the move to outdoor culture, make 2015 the year to make the leap!!!!

So, as you can see, there is a lot of work to be done.  I basically just removed the bulk of pine needles.  There are still lots of needles that need to be cleaned and dead material that should be removed, but for now… its good, gets sun to the soil, and air circulating around the plants… Keeping the needles on too long will encourage mold and fungus as temps warm… What I look for is a 10 day forecast where the temps do not fall much below -2C (28F) at night and the days are consistently above freezing!  This week is that week.

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as you can see in the photos… I did chop the plants down a little last fall with the weed whacker, but did not cut them to the ground.  This way plants with phylodia, still have them and the pitcher bases that still have decomposing bugs stay on the plants.  As they emerge from dormancy, the decaying insects in the tubes provide some food for the winter starved plant.  Keeping the phylodia is important too. The phylodia producing species use these flat leaves to catch the early spring sun and get the photosynthesis happening as the providing food as the plants emerge from dormancy. So don’t keep them on.

The other spring project, is squirrel proofing my Flytraps!  For now, I just layed some chick wire down.  I will be making a frame that will hold the wire up about 6 inches off the surface so that the VFT’s grow, and still be protected from the squirrels.  After a month or so, the squirrels seem to leave the bogs alone again… at that point, I will remove the mesh!

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I’m really looking forward to the new growing season!

CJM

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Slow but sure!

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Well after our record cold February and crapload of snow, there are signs of spring here in zone6b.  We literally went from winter to spring in a week.  Temps were really cold here (still) into the start of March, but then one day, all of a sudden, we got up to seasonal temperature values (3-7C) and the mounds of snow have slowly but surely disappearing. Granted the long range temperature maps suggest we’ll be below average for the rest of March… but at least the snow will be gone!

I am getting anxious to get the needles off and assessing the plants… but alas, its really not warm enough yet.  I have people ask me when is the best time to get the needles off.  The answer is… there is no hard and fast date or time.  The key is to get air circulation to the plants and not let them get too warm too early. Mild daytime temps and cold night time temps are a recipie for mold and at the same time, keeping the needles on the surface  traps heat, which will get the plants moving before they should.  So… I’m thinking it will be in the next couple of weeks. Once all the snow is gone and the days are consistenly over 5C (40F) they need to be uncovered. Sure it can still frost, but they plants are fully dormant and won’t be affected.

As I mentioned in my last post, we had very cold temperatures with now snow for the first half of January. The coldest night in January was -22C (-7F), but on average nights consistently were below-10C (12F)… I’m very curious to see how the plants were affected if they were at all.

Hopefully, I’ll have lots of positive things to report after I get these bogs uncovered! So welcome to spring and the 2015 Growing Season!!!  I hope its a good one!

CJM

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Greetings from Zone6B! My first post of 2015

I’ve been thinking about posting for a while now.  But in all honestly, there hasn’t really been much to say! My bogs are buried under 50-70cms (a couple feet) of snow! I can tell you this though, its been a hell of a winter here! And I thought it couldn’t be worse than last year! WRONG!

We have just come out of a record setting February.  Not the good kind, where the weather guy tells you its been the mildest February ever… the bad kind, the one where the weather guy says “this has been the coldest February EVER recorded in Niagara since Environment Canada started keeping records way back in the 1800’s”.  There were points where Niagara Falls was almost frozen solid, and we’ve either matched or came very close to record ice cover on the Great Lakes. So ya, February sucked! Not only that… January was bitter cold as well. The sad part…  Alaska was warmer than we were most of the winter!

So what’s with the map.  Well, for the first time since November, its showing we are probably going to experience temperatures above the seasonal averages here for the next two weeks.  What is seasonal in early March, 5C (40F) ish.  All I can say is bring it on, that’s going to feel like being in tropics compared to what I’ve been through these last couple of months

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Hopefully it will melt ALL the snow we have… February has been a snowy month, and its been so cold that it just kept piling up, no melts at all.  That’s good news for my outdoor bogs, they were good and covered keeping them comfortable through or record setting cold.

That said, January was very cold too, the difference, NO snow cover. So its going to be interesting to see how the Sarracenia have been affected – or not.  Since I’ve been growing my Sarracenia outdoors, they have for the most part, been covered with snow for the coldest parts of our winter in January and February.  So being exposed for January should prove interesting (and hopefully not catastrophic).

As I mentioned in one my late season posst in 2014, I’m planning on changing the soil in at least 1 or maybe 2 of my bogs this spring.   I’m doing this because, like a potted plant, soil changes are required to maintain plant health.  It is a huge undertaking… but necessary… and slightly overdue. This will be the first soil change, since I built these bogs.  Don’t remember off hand when that was, 3-4 years ago I think.   I will certainly be posting progress pics as I go.  This will also give me an opportunity to inventory what I have as well as clean and divide the plants ( and sell off extras).  Many Sarracenia seem to loose vigor when they get too “clumped”, so dividing every few years is a good thing to do to maintain their health.

So… welcome to the 2015 season, I hope that the past and future posts here help inspire other growers, new and seasoned, to make the leap to the rewards of outdoor cultivation in cold climates!

CJM

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2014 in review

This summary is really cool… The best thing is my MOM got the award for the most comments!  Thanks Mom!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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All Good Things Must Come to an End

It’s December 27,  the year is almost over. I can’t complain about how 2014 is going out!  Forecasting 10C (50F) today, Christmas eve it was 13C (56F), in fact, other than a couple early snows… December has been quite mild and snow-less. Not bad for these parts! After this weekend however, we are getting back to more seasonal temperatures and before long, “real” winter will be here.  Who knows… maybe after last years horribly cold snowy winter, the “big guy” will have mercy and give us a mild, less snowy winter this time around!

On the plant front, I’m looking forward to next season.  If things go as planned, I’m hoping to redo a bog or two.  By that I mean, dig up and divide/clean all the plants, pull out the majority of the soil, and replace it with fresh new peat/sand.  It’s kinda like repotting a plant but on a much bigger scale!

In the meantime, I want to thank everyone who has continued to read my blog, and hope more than anything that it has been helpful and inspirational to people who live in colder climates who want to grow their Sarracenia and other hardy Carnivores outdoors!

I wish everyone health and happiness in 2015… may it be a great year!

CJM

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It doesn’t take a lot to make me happy

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I was just looking a the the 8-14 day forecast and it looks like we’re going to be warmer than normal for the next few weeks… considering that November was on average one of the coldest on record, I’ll take it!

Sadly this is a double edged sword. I’m not the biggest fan… who am kidding… I really don’t like winter.  So milder temps get my happy glands going this time of year.  However,  in this area, winter temperatures can swing drastically. Mild temperatures mean, no snow and with no snow, no “winter blanket” on the plants.  So should the temperatures drop drastically,  there is nothing to keep the plants “warm”.

With any luck, it will snow before the temperatures get really cold!

CJM

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Up, Down All Around!

LOCAL SNOWVEMBER AERIAL GEE

I suppose by now everyone has heard about the record snowfall south of me in Buffalo NY. Its incredible to think that some folks got over 7 feet of snow in a few days!  Here in Niagara Falls, we got 6 inches! (That pic above is from Buffalo!)

Anyway, its been a temperature roller coaster around here, record cold temperatures all over north america a few days back and today, we’re sitting at 16C (61 F)… the 6 inches we got is long gone!

On the weekend it warmed up, so I figured I’d take advantage of that and put my plants to bed for the season before before we more snow!

This year I decided to go middle of the road in terms of cutting the plants back.  A couple years ago, I weed whacked them all to the ground, and realized that doing that set the plants back in the spring… so last year I left all the leaves and even with the bad winter they did very well… This year, I got the weed whacker out and cut them down to about 8 inches. This way the plants that really don’t like be cut back to nothing, like purpurea and psittacina are not impacted by the cutting, even most of the phylodia producing plants still have most of their phylodia.

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After the blowing out the excess debris and oak leaves… I gave them their winter blanket of pine needles.  Not really sure what sort of protection these are going to afford anyway, its a very thin layer. I was hoping to buy some more this year, but I was informed by the place that I purchase them that they were out of stock and wouldn’t have any more till spring.

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And so ends the 2014 growing season.  Once again its been a great year.

Next year will bring a new experience for me… changing the soil in the bogs.  I think its been 4 years now since I put these bogs in. The peat slowly breaks down over time, and eventually becomes toxic to the plants.  Like potted plants need new media from time to time, bog gardens too need to have their soils refreshed. So I think next spring, I’m going to change out the soil!

This is also good opportunity to divide plants up and thin them out.  I have found when plants get too clumped, their vigor slows…   The other thing is that this will give me an opportunity to re-catalog my collection, something that is long over due.

I’m hoping my friend in the southern hemisphere will send me photos from time to time so I can post them here to give us northern hemisphere dwellers something to look at while our plants are sleeping!

CJM

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