Making Magic

A couple of years ago I attended a tufa crevice workshop at Robin's led by Harvey Wrightman. Fortunately for us he brought lots of tufa rock. "Tufa", you say, "What's that?" Okay, think of what accumulates when hot springs leach out limestone. We're talking in earth building times, not overnight. It's a very porous material that accumulates. Think Illion Gorge in New York or maybe Mackinac Island in Michigan, or other places in B.C. with funny limestone mounds. Essentially it is precipitated material, either biological or chemical, of Calcium Carbonate, CaCO3. Sure there can be other materials in it that cast a different color to it. And notice it's not just hot springs spouting. It also happens in freshwater streams. Don't you just love how the metabolism of algae, bacteria and mosses play the part in a biological formation? Once I found a handful in a fast moving stream in the Adirondacks. It was hard but crushable. And it's not something you can find on Google Shopping. So for Harvey to haul a truckload for us was in of itself, a wondrous thing. 

That workshop drew people from five states. Such was the rarity of the opportunity. We had a wonderful day for it, and all went home well satisfied with their prizes. So last year when I asked BNARGS, my local rock garden chapter: "What kind of programs do you want next year?" the response came - "Workshops in April." Thinking back to that previous wonderful day, I arranged for the return of Harvey and "The Tufa Crevice Workshop." Lucky for our chapter Dean, one of our NY members, was able to bring a truckload of Illion Gorge tufa. Wohoo Dean!
Dean's Tufa

Snow Day!


If someone had told me at age 12 that I would want to spend a snow day as an old lady washing pots, I would have fallen over laughing. But that is exactly what I wanted to do today. And I did!

I have been rereading Norm Deno again.


Can you believe it? It is now available online as a pdf, including the supplements! The National Agricultural Library Digital Collection knows a good thing. Thank goodness. Having it as a pdf also means it is searchable, for those of us who are a little, modern.

So today I was all riled up wanting to try early germination with some of my seeds. I found a spot on the floor of the greenhouse that is pretty consistently 42F. That is great for so many of the genera. And I decided to try the primula and a few other related genera under 70F lights. Oh, and I wanted to fool around with some of the Paeonia japonica seed I picked up at the New England Chapter APS meeting. (Thank you Amy!) What better way to spend the day.

First step is making out the labels and deciding what to try where. That was good for a cup of tea and then one of coffee.Oh and then I made notes - reminders - about various genera. I had wanted to fool around with GA-3. But everything I read about, I have always had pretty good success getting sprouted. Guess I will try it eventually. It's supposed to be good for 10 years. I did save some gentian seed back to try. For some reason there has been poor germination for me in the last couple of years. I blamed the seed. It had always come like cress before. (What a difference a spring can make.) Then came the seed prep. As I said I wanted to try experimenting with the paeony seed. So I got out a hand vice. Perhaps you will laugh, but what a godsend for people like me who want to refrain from cutting the fingers. Once locked in place the seed is going no where. And the exacto can really cut a quick slice into the seed shell.

 Then I put on the kettle again for the seeds. This year I did a whole assortment, from my usual soak of astragalus and lewisia to the paeonia - one batch notched, the other not. Tea time!
 Out in the greenhouse, I made up my soil batch for the nice clean pots. The soapstone tamper Rod made for me is such a speedy helper. The one end pushes the soil down to the bottom of the pot.Turn it over and it is sized for the top inch or so. Very neat.
As you can see, Deno is with me in the trenches...that is sink. Oh, and that is sandblasting sand. Of course, one could use chicken grit.

To tail or not to tail - Pulsatilla patens. I did. Thank you Wayne.
 Under the sink near the crawlspace door is the perfect temperature for the 40 F'ers. I reused the lettuce containers. They are a perfect fit.
 Rod's find, my salve for afterwards - raw shea butter. My hands are almost normal. Well as normal as any gardener's might be.