January 23, 2013

Book Giveaway Winner is....

Thanks to everyone for commenting and entering this week's book giveaway. The lucky winner of Margaret Roach's latest book is  Emeralkmaz! Please contact me so that I can set up shipment from the publisher. Yay! OK Emeralkmaz - email me your contact info - directly to me at mmattus@charter.net
and I will set up shipment for you!

And as a bonus, every one else wins a puppy picture! ( at end of post).

Another update for you - those Lily of the Valley pips which I dug up in late December - they are still blooming.
Never will I spend $60 again to buy them from a mail order nursery in the winter for forcing, thanks to my 1805 gardening book, I ( and you) can have the scent of Lily of the Valley all winter long.
 My little Lily of the Valley project really paid off. I simply dug some roots with buds just before the Holidays, and then planted the roots in flats and pots, which I placed in the greenhouse. As I mentioned before, I've purchased beautiful roots for forcing ( pips, they are called) from White Flower Farm and once from France. They performed well, but the ones that I dug from my garden actually performed even better. I will share a a couple of secrets to successfully force Lily of the Valley.

First, dig your Lily of the Valley pips late in the year, best even to dig them during a thaw ( even now, if the ground is not frozen). This ensures that you will have fully vernalized plants. As anyone who grows Lily of the Valley knows, these plants run, and are practically invasive, so there is no fear in digging up as many as you need.

If you dig plants in December, you can pot them up directly into pots, and begin forcing right away. The roots are strong, and white, but you can trim them, so that you can fit more of the vertical shoots in a pot. The goal here is to squeeze as many shoots into a pot as possible, as only one flower stalk will appear from each shoot ( if you are lucky). The smallest shoots most likely will not produce a flower.

The most common mistake people make in forcing Lily of the Valley, is keeping the plants too cool. These are warm weather lovers, so place pots in a bright, warm place such as a sunny window that has no drafts, or better yet, under lights, especially tiered ones as the light rack below the highest setting will ensure that the root level of the pot will remain warm during the day. When lights are turned off, the pot and thus, the roots, will cool significantly, and this temperature shift is key in ensuring long stems, and little bud drop. It was a trick we used to use when forcing perennials for the New England Spring Flower Show.

Once pots are in bloom they can be placed in a cooler location - I keep my pots in a deep plant window which stays near 50º F day and night. The scent is incredible, and it's an amazing sensation in the middle of January. I also gave a pot to the lady across the street who is 85 years old for her birthday - it was so sweet, she cried, as she lives alone. In the greenhouse, which is still quite cold, I have many more flats waiting to be forced as soon as these first pots start to wind down. As the winter progresses, these other pots kept cool, will force in less time.

Be sure to try this next year ( or dig some up from your garden if you get a thaw in the next few weeks) and let me know how it went.

Puppy Update

Little Weasley, now at 8 weeks is helping to weed the garden. I'm not sure I want to admit this yet, but it looks like we may keep both puppies, as we are getting attached. Or should I say that Weasel Bee is attached to me.


  1. I never knew you could do this with Lily of the Valley! I have loads in my garden, I chuck handfulls of roots away every time I plant something new. As soon as this cold snap is over I will go out and find some roots and take them inside and try this. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Keep the puppies. They are adorable. Would hate to see them separated from each other and the love you can give them.


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