Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Blue Petunias Match My Gardening Mood

My Burpees live plant order arrived the other day.

One of the plants I was looking forward to planting was a new variety (to me), the Sky Blue petunia.  These are supposed to be true blue petunias, not a flower that is actually a shade of purple. When/if they bloom, I will post those photos.

For the first time in my four years of ordering from Burpees, I was disappointed.  I pay extra for Burpee plants (over and above what some others charge), but it is worth it to me because of the care they take in packing and the quality of plants overall.   It's an expense to buy plants rather than start from seeds but it's worth it to me because
1.My windowsill space is limited
2. I work a full time job and "time is money" (unfortunately)
3. Certain seeds I've never had luck germinating.  That includes petunias and impatiens.

Burpees plants are usually of the highest quality.  The couple of times I've had minor problems, which normally crop up a day or two after planting, Burpees has always promptly credited me - their plants are guaranteed (another plus!) I was depending on the impatien plants - I love the double flowered types and they are expensive in local nurseries.

So what happens when you get plants mail order?  Usually you have to add a little water to each cell upon receipt, and then you rest the plants for 24-48 hours.  Then you can generally plant.

This time the plants, every one, were in cells so soaking wet you could have practically wrung water out of them.  (and now, for a little rant.)

The heavy Northeast rains may be responsible for that.  (although, just because Burpees is headquartered in Pennsylvania doesn't mean the plants came from there.  And maybe that doesn't make sense-would the plants have been field grown?)
The petunias were supposed to be in a pack of 12.  I got 11 plants.  The 12th plant wasn't rotted:  there was no trace of a plant in the cell. (However, the other plants did survive the trip in good condition-so far.)

I also ordered 12 double-flowered impatiens.  This is the 3rd year I've ordered these.  In previous years, no problem.  Upon delivery this year, two of the plants were wilted.  I think it was wilt from being too wet.  Within a day, during the rest period, 6 of the 12 plants were dead or dying.

One of my 3 Cardinal basils also wilted within a day after delivery.   The other two are out in our yard tonight, with the other plants, and they face their next challenge:

Rain.  Lots and lots of rain.

At the Binghamton airport (which is on a mountaintop, and doesn't always have the same weather as our river valley where I live) they've had over 17 inches of rain between April and May.  Last night I was awakened on three separate occasions by thunder and torrential rains coming down. The soil in our community garden is squirts water when you walk.  My spouse is a strong man but he can't even work the soil (and you shouldn't be working it anyway, if it is that wet).  We have a lot of organic matter in it from tending the same plots year after year, but there's only so much organic matter can do.

The soil in our small yard isn't much better.

My mood is blue, as blue as the sky blue petunias that we planted this holiday weekend.  I am going to wait a day or so to see if any other plants die (I won't blame Burpees if it is weather related) and then I will contact Burpees customer service.

I wish I wasn't ending this with a gardening "downer".  I hope I have better news for you, dear reader, soon.

And with that, dear blogging friends new and old, my participation in the 2011 Blogathon ends.  Tomorrow: the recap.  But for now:  I'm sad that the Blogathon, and May, are over.  It's been a lot of fun.

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