Growing Season 2009
Evaluation Day
10/14/2009 @ 1500
Well, this year has almost gone by; it's definitely fall here in Wilmington; I had to wear tights on my bike ride to work this morning, and gloves.

I was hoping to update this log more, but it didn't happen. This year was not very good for trees. I germinated a few redbuds, Kentucky coffeetree, wisteria, and honey locust. Nothing else did much. My hops failed, too. About the only thing that worked well was the hot peppers. I collected several pounds of most of the varieties, made some hot pepper jelly this past weekend, pickled a batch, and the rest are in the freezer waiting for time to make hot sauce. I got quite a few bhut jolokias, although I haven't had the nerve to try them yet.

I've already begun collecting for next year, with katsura, persimmon, hardy orange (poncirus), and bur oak already in the bag. I'll try to update my collecting notes as I gather more.


Tree Planting Day 1
06/01/2009 @ 0800
This year I planted very late due to several reasons, including house issues, other interests, and general laziness.  I don't know what will happen, but it is nice weather, in the 80s, so there should be no problems with germination.  As usual, I planted in the standard seed trays, 6 by 12, that you can buy at any home store. I didn't use the  "greenhouse" lids, just set the trays in my planters and then left town. I planted 3 trays of seeds this year, so far.

I have a lot of "mystery" seeds this year because some mice got into my seed holding area over the winter, ate all the acorns, chewed through bags, and ate labels.  We'll see what happens.

The first tray of seeds included (Tray A):

  1. Osage-Orange - I feel a little silly planting these guys, since they almost always germinate, and aren't much of a challenge. However, they are a good seed for beginners or kids, since they always come through. I'm growing a lot for a friend who wants to try a hedgerow this year.

  2. Katsura - I found a nice tree at Rockwood State Park near my house, in their walled garden area. I snagged some seeds last fall, and just held them in a plastic bag, dry, over the winter. All the little pods had split open and ejected the seeds.

  3. Mystery I - these I have absolutely no idea what they are. So there. They might be linden, since the fruit is approximately pea-sized, and the seeds themselves are microscopic.

  4. Hophornbeam - I love these trees and have two growing in my backyard that I started several years ago. The tree I got the seeds has been cut down, and the ones that I collect from now are very young; maybe that is why I've had no luck the past few years. I'll keep trying.

  5. Bladderwort - these are seeds that I collected along some bottom land by White Clay Creek a few years ago. A reader, Elinor, sent me some seeds she had collected and after we identified them I found some of my own.

  6. Goldenrain Tree - I love these guys for their pods and flowers. They actually do quite well in what passes for soil here at my office, so I'm growing some more.

  7. Persimmon - spotted this tree in Bellevue State Park, near the stables, last year and collected a bunch of seeds. Just shoved these in the dirt. I scored a few and put them into Tray B.

Tray B:

  1. Northern Catalpa - haven't grown these for a while, and I want to see how they do at my house. They grow here at my office, but are stunted except in one wet spot.

  2. Mountain Ash - I grew a beauty from seed when I was in Seattle many years ago, but haven't seen them around Wilmington. I collected these seeds from the Hawk Mountain Visitor Center in Pennsylvania last fall.

  3. Chinese Scholartree - Easy to grow, good street trees.

  4. Wisteria - from a great pergola at Bellevue State Park. I hope to build an arbor at my house one of these days....

  5. Mystery II - These are funny. The seeds look like small ginkgo fruits, fleshy and still moist after the winter in a plastic bag, with similarly shaped seeds inside, but they don't stink. I know I collected them somewhere, but the label was chewed off.

  6. Redbud - no label, but you can't mistake these. I scratched the seeds with sandpaper just before planting. I usually scarify them this way in the fall, but didn't last year.

  7. Persimmon - scarified.

Tray C:

  1. Kentucky Coffeetree - I love working with these giant seeds. This year I scored them with a hacksaw. I have a 8-footer here at the office I planted about 3 years ago, and a 1-year-old one at my house. They get big, so it's tough finding a spot for them at the house, but I have some big trees with problems and these might replace them.

  2. Mystery III - OK, mystery seed number 3 is a pea-sized fruit, very small seeds, with long thin leaves. The fruits grow in bunches. I'm thinking that these are mountain ash, but I don't remember collecting multiple bags of these last year.

  3. Rugosa Rose - well, I'll try to grow anything. I collected these 'rosehips' at a house of a friend I was staying at last fall in Maine. I think most roses are propagated (by people, at least) via cuttings, but what the  hell.

  4. Ginkgo - boy, do these things stink. My neighbor has a beautifully shaped tree, but the fruits are a little much, especially when they get onto my driveway and I hit them with my bike. I love the trees, though; there are several streets here in Wilmington that are lined with these guys, and when they turn yellow in the fall they are something to see.

  5. Persimmon (Historic) - these are seeds I collected at a historic house in North Carolina about 4 years ago - don't know if they'll do anything, but I'd rather try them then just toss them out.

  6. Osage Orange - planted more for a friend.

Here is the diagram of the e Trays A & B and Tray C.  Be sure to see the page for each individual seed type to learn more.

Pepper Planting Day
05/23/2009 @ 0900
The weather is warm, no danger of frost, and my peppers want to get into the ground. I planted in the 4' x 4' planters I have used in the past. The last few years I covered I covered the planting beds with landscape cloth to keep the weeds down, but didn't have any this year - last year's got a little torn while preparing the beds. I weeded the beds, put 2 bags of manure into each planter, and turned everything over well. Nice soil after using the beds for 5 years. I put 5 plants in each planter, which isn't quite enough room, but this year I plan to use a tomato cage on the center plant.

Here is the diagram of the planters.

Pepper Seed Starting Day
03/17/2009 @ 0900
This year I got my pepper seeds started right at my traditional time, on St. Patricks Day. With the climate seeming to warm, and the USDA hardiness zones moving, maybe I could start a little sooner, but I am used to this date.  As usual, I plant in the standard seed trays, 6 by 12, that you can buy at any home store. I use the  "greenhouse" lids to hold in moisture until the seedlings get too big. I use my homemade planting light, with two fluorescent bulbs for light, and a single incandescent bulb for heat. I planted 2 trays of seeds this year.

Note: I get most of my seeds from Pepper Joe's ( ( I have had good luck with germination using their seeds, they have a great variety of seeds, the catalog is a lot of fun, and I recommend them. I do not receive anything from them for this endorsement.

    ...Also known as the Naga Pepper. This is the one you heard about. THE HOTTEST PEPPER IN THE WORLD at 970,000 Scoville Units out of India. And what a great tasting Pepper too!! These Original and Heirloom seeds are the finest available...seeds were field tested for years and are sheer perfection! It's been a long 4 years coming, but we believe this is the finest Bhut Jolokia available today." 
    I can't wait to taste on of these babies. If I live through it I'll let you know.

  2. Fluorescent Purple - "Mother nature got fancy when she created this incredible work of art. The leaves on this plant are sensational fluorescent purple and white. It is absolutely the most breathtaking foliage I have ever seen. But there is more. The florescent purple and white foliage is surrounded by little hot dynamos that turn from green, to purple, then to red when ripe. I recommend this pepper for gardeners who have difficulty starting seed indoors. Easy to germinate, transplant and grow." These are very pretty plants, dark purple leaves and peppers. Good in containers.

  3. Golden Habanero - "HOTTEST PEPPER IN THE WORLD! (Time Magazine, Oct. 12, 1992) It is impossible to find a pepper hotter than my golden habanero. I guarantee that, or your money back. It is so incredibly hot that just one pepper will make a meal too hot. It grows on a large plant and is the most beautiful pepper in any garden. It turns a deep gold like you've never seen before. Caution: Use rubber gloves to handle. Don't touch eyes, nose or skin. Wash hands with soap and cold water. My Golden Habanero is positively NUCLEAR." I have grown these before, and they grow better than most habanero varieties. I have found that the heat in Delaware, while it kills me, just isn't enough most years for habaneros. I'm glad I don't live in Jamaica.

  4. Chicken Heart - "This rare and unusual pepper is an Amish heirloom from Pennsylvania Dutch country. It's a gorgeous yellow and has a burning, fruity flavor. We dare you to find this centuries old prize anywhere else."

  5. Las Cruces Chile - - "This new and awesome Hot Pepper comes from Las Cruces, New Mexico... known as the world headquarters for Chile Peppers. It is the Mecca for Hot Pepper research and development. This is a great Pepper and highly recommended by Pepper Joe. It has a Jalapeno shape...but broader and more blunt with a thick skin and fabulous, spicy taste. It has tested well and we proudly introduce it to you." These are great peppers for drying, smoking, or making sauces and jellies. Hot and fleshy, but not hot enough to kill.

  6. Golden Nugget - "This is a very old heirloom pepper that has been re-discovered. Produces an abundant crop that turns from purple to gold, what a sight! Great for drying, freezing or eating fresh. This pepper has withstood the test of's centuries old."

  7. Haiti Cluster - "What an awesome chile. The plant has huge clusters (up to 16 peppers per cluster) of round, cherry red peppers. It's beautiful enough to be an ornamental but it's delicious and Hot and Spicy. It has that 'Island Attitude' to it and will become one of your favorites. "

  8. Peter Pepper - "Judged "MOST PORNOGRAPHIC PEPPER" By Organic Gardening Magazine. Gives virility and stamina? As the name implies, this "guy" is shaped very realistically. It is absolutely the novelty of the garden. Everyone in your neighborhood will want to take a peek at your Peter Pepper. Besides being a real conversation piece, let me tell you, this pepper is super tasty. It has a thick fleshy pod that is fairly hot with a unique spicy flavor. The pepper is rumored to be an aphrodisiac in South America. I don't know if that's true, but we all know the many health benefits of eating hot peppers. Loaded with Vitamins A and C, Peter is sure to become a favorite. Very rare!" My girlfriend wanted me to try this one. Wonder why. I'll have to ask.

  9. Long Red Slim - no description, free seeds, this one is like an Italian red pepper, long and thin. When dried, great for frying with potatoes for a winter warmer.

  10. Big Jim - no description, free seeds, good experiment.

Here is the diagram of the Trays A &B.

Seed Collecting for 2009
03/01/2009 @ 0900

My seed collecting started last fall,  with help from friends and readers who either sent me seeds, or directed me to a new tree.  The lineup for this year:

Kentucky coffeetree
sawtooth oak
osage orange
poncirus trifoliata (hardy orange)
Northern catalpa
Chinese scholartree
magnolia (bigleaf, umbrella, and star(?))
goldenrain tree

Welcome to 2009!
02/28/2009 @ 1000

Welcome to the growing season of 2009.

Last year was a bust at Trees From Seeds - too many things to do to maintain this site. However, this year I'm making an effort to keep things together and concentrate a little more.

I've cut back a few trees that were shadowing my peppers and tree-germinating site, and done a little repair work on the pepper planting boxes. I've also built two hop trellises at my house for additional varieties - we'll see if the growing conditions are any better than here at the office.

The land around the office that was sold and clear last year is still vacant, and we are still here. The plant might be moving within a few years, but we are safe this year.

This year looks to be interesting, with some new seeds and another try at some old favorites.

I had horrible luck with my hops last year, with a windstorm that stripped most of the leaves, and then some sort of blight that killed everything.

And hot peppers: as usual, I will be growing way too many hot peppers. I made some interesting hot sauces and pepper jellies last year, and I hope to do more this year. My basement is full of hanging dried pepper plants.



Welcome to "The 2009 Growing Season," the story of the 2009 Trees from Seeds tree garden. This column will provide you with a regular update on the status of this year's crop of tree seedlings.s.

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Last updated: 10/14/2009 03:44:31 PM