Continuing with growing plants today. I mentioned that I get my first plugs of the year delivered in early January. This coming year those will be my begonia starts, both trailing and upright. I will get my fuchsia starts at the same time. We’ll do the fuchsias first. I end up selling fuchsias in different ways 3 1/2″ pots,combo baskets and straight fuchsia baskets. Since I use them in different ways I will plant all of them into 3 1/2″ pots as soon as I get them. This is a good time to pinch for the first time.Pinch out the center stem with the top couple of leaves. This break will cause two new branches to come off of the main stem. Once the plugs have grown into the 3 1/2″ pots and the roots are well established you can move the to your baskets. This is also a good time to pinch again. Find where your last pinch was and follow the two stems out to their ends,then go back down the branch a couple of sets of leaves and pinch there.The straight baskets can be all one variety or a mix. When I do a straight basket I will use 4 fuchsia starts to the basket. Fill the basket to the top with soil, water it in then make four holes with your finger. If the roots are starting to get rootbound you can loosen them up some. Plant the four plugs so the soil level of the plug ends up even or just below the soil in the basket. With a multi color basket I will usually put two plugs of different colors into the basket and sometimes I like to add a trailing lobelia to the center of the basket. This really perks it up if you use the trailing blue. In my combos I will mix two like fuchsias with a Bacopa and a trailing mixed lobelia. This is my best seller. I will pinch everything in the basket again once it is established and actively growing. If something starts to look rangy and you have a few weeks before your planned sale dates you can selectively pinch again. This works good in theory but I usually forget until it’s too late then kick myself and say I will remember next time. I don’t.
If you are doing to sell the fuchsias in 3 1/2″ pots you can plan on pinching three times or more. Begonias are kind of tricky. They like warm night temps and require some extra day length. They don’t like wet soil and like air movement to keep them from starting to rot. Fuchsia have several problems in growing but it helps a lot if ou can keep good air flow around them. Aphids love fuchsias. This is usually the first place I will see them in the greenhouse for the year. The first thing you will see is what looks like little white aphid skins. They are. I’m not an expert in aphids but this seems to be one step in their growth pattern. The next way you will see them they will be a nice fat green bug with the biggest being the size of the head or a pin or slightly larger. They really like the soft fleshy underside of the newer leaves. You will find hundreds of babies around them SQUISH THEM ALL. Then get a pesticide like Bayer’s Rose care with systemic Pesticide. Use about one teaspoon to 3 or 4 3 1/2″pots and a light tablespoon for 12″ baskets. I apply this systemic to the whole flat trying to keep it away from the base of the plant then water in the whole flat. As this product gets into the plants system the aphids will get it into their system from sucking it out of the plant. If you see aphids the first thing you do though is SQUISH THEM ALL with your fingers, then do the pesticide. There is also a magic product out there called Marathon. I think the patent may have run out so there are cheaper varieties of it too. Check with a greenhouse supply place for it. This product gets sprinkled over the soil in each pot and works the same way. It is touted to last several months, It seem to last about a month and a half for me. That means you have to apply it at least twice before you sell your plants.
The begonia is kind of a picky plant. It’s probably best to hold off on these for now. There are plenty of things you can grow from plugs and seed without having all the problems. Don’t discount them completely though, when something is harder to grow you can usually get a premium price for it.
Wish I hadn’t lost most of my pictures when my computer crashed, I had some nice ones of my geraniums. Geraniums is one of the easiest plants to grow for market. You get the plugs put them into 4″ pots stick them in a corner somewhere fertilize and water them and before you know it they are ready to sell. This is one of the most problem free plants that I grow. I don’t know why more people don’t grow them for market. If you keep the dead leaves picked off and fertilize once a month they seem to take care of themselves. At the Friday market I do there is only one other person selling Zonal Geraniums. At the much bigger Saturday market there are only 4 or 5 selling them and 3 of those are nurseries that sell at market.
Make sure that you do Zonal Geraniums. The seed type geranium isn’t as showy and the person that does Gerans. on a regular basis knows the difference. You can order Geranium cuttings from any broker or Park Seed Wholesale usually in units of 50 or 100. I plant mine around the end of Feb. or early March. They have few pests and like to grow on the dry side. You can sell these in 4″ pots or combos. I like to mix mine in 12″ patio pots with Euphorbia Diamond Frost and some blue lobelia. This makes a nice 4th of July pot. The lobelia does seem to get a little ugly if they are in the hot sun so let the customer know that they may want to cut it back or rip it out when it starts to go downhill. By late summer the geranium and diamond frost will have completely filled in the pot and they won’t miss the lobelia.
The end of January is the time to start tomato seeds if you plan on selling gallon tomatoes. This gives you a chance to get them up to a good size and also start cooling them down. Sometimes I do get the itch too soon and start planting tomatoes in the end of December, last year I had some really nice bushy plants though by the time the weather co-operated and it was time to sell them. I even shifted some of them up into 3 gallon pots and sold them for up to $10.My goal is to have my gallon tomatoes outside (protected from frost) for a week or two before taking them to market. First they go into a cool house.I have a couple of houses that are only heated to around 35 degrees so that’s where the gallons go until they go outside. If you don’t have that luxury you can section off the greenhouse so that you have a cool area at the back. I’ve found that when I section my house off with the cooler end at the back it is usually 10 degrees or so cooler than the front heated part. I loke to wait until mid march or so to start some of my other veggie starts. I always plant my Zucchini and other squashes too early and find that the seeds I start in mid april start and grow much faster. I just can’t help myself.
Tomorrow we will cover some of the things like succulents, cactus and some indoor plants that are easy and free to start like Angel Wing Begonias.