Swallowtail Garden Seeds Blog

As massive fires burned around us  in all directions but west, all I could think about was rain.  When will it come? Between forays out into the smoky air to hose down the roof of our house in case stray embers blow in on the wind, we stayed inside with doors and windows shut tight, keeping an eye on the fire updates, evacuation bags packed.  Wildfires are part of a natural cycle, embedded in our way of life here in California.  When I am saddened by the tragic loss of so many people's homes and...
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Is there a dark side to seed germination? It turns out that the Salem Witch Trials are not the only historical instance of cruel and unusual punishment that occurred in Massachusetts. In 1897, Mr. Asa S. Kinney, a graduate of the Massachusetts Agricultural College in Amherst, MA, conducted an experiment which applied electrical currents to various agricultural crop seeds to determine if it had any effect on seed germination and seedling growth. In his Bulletin titled Electro-Germination, botanist G...
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As a fun way to celebrate Halloween, I want to share photos and facts about some insects that you might find in and around your home and garden. Below are eight possible reasons to start wearing your garden gloves more often. Potato Bug - I've found potato bugs, also known as Jerusalem crickets, in my garden and once in my bedroom! They hiss and can grow to a length of 2 inches! Cabbage Looper - This garden pest is most commonly found on cabbage and other related plants such as broccoli and kale. Earwig...
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I find it difficult to say no to a sunflower. Pollen-producing?  Pollen-free? 12 inches tall? 12 feet tall?  Yes, please, to all of the above.  I  planted too many sunflowers in the vegetable garden this year, to the detriment of a few sun-starved pepper plants, but to the exuberant enjoyment of all who saw them blooming, humans, insects, and birds alike.  There are dozens of reasons to plant sunflowers in your garden, and many dozens of sunflower varieties available to plant.  To narrow down which are...
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Seeds are best stored in a cool, dark and dry location. Cool and consistent temperatures are best. Avoid storing seeds near doors, windows, heating/cooling vents and other sources of hot or cold air. Storing seeds in a dark location is best but anywhere away from direct sunlight and other sources of bright light will work. Seeds can absorb moisture from the air, so it's best to store them in moisture proof containers. Containers should also be pest proof if the storage location is not free of pests. At...
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Sedum, also known as stonecrop, is a leafy succulent native to the Northern hemisphere. Some are annuals or creeping herbs, and sedums can also be large shrubs. Leaves can be a wide variety of colors and shapes, and some sedums put up long stems with showy flowers. Low-growing varieties are popular for low-maintenance ground covers and rock walls, and sedum plants are generally heat and drought tolerant. Some varieties are cold-tolerant and winter hardy to zone 3. One of the most interesting things...
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Fall is near, with mornings feeling a bit chillier, and in my garden, hundreds of tomatoes and peppers asking to be harvested. This recipe is little more a basic guideline that can be edited at will to match what you have on hand. Quantities are entirely to your taste. The basic ingredients are: tomatoes ( sauce tomatoes are preferable, but any tomato will do) jalapeños or other fresh hot peppers garlic salt Using a heavy skillet or griddle, roast the peppers and tomatoes on medium heat...
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Balloon flowers, aka platycodon or Chinese Bellflower, are delightful long-lived perennials that grow well in many climates. Related to the bellflower, or campanula, balloon flowers come in shades of blue, purple, pink, and white and can be single- or double-petalled. Flowers are generally star-shaped with five or ten petals and open from buds that resemble balloons. Plants can range in height from 12 inches all the way to 24 inches, and flowers can range in size from two to three inches. Platycodon...
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Tithonia rotundifolia, or Mexican Sunflower, is a bold summer annual that has captured my heart this season. Tithonia is named for Tithonus, a Trojan prince who, in Greek mythology, was a love interest of Eos, the goddess of the dawn. Native to Mexico and Central America, tithonia is at home in any garden with a good-sized sunny spot. Blooming starts about midsummer; the rich orange, 3 to 4 inch flowers resemble single-flowered dahlias. Tithonia plants typically grow 4 to 6 feet tall, but in the...
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As a floral designer who tries to use seasonal and locally-grown flowers whenever possible, I love summer and fall for the brightly-colored and interestingly-textured options available. I’m especially enamored of dahlias, particularly just how much variety there is in terms of flower form, shape, color, and size. It’s sometimes hard to believe that a flower the size of a half dollar resembling a ball and a flower the size of my entire head with a plethora of gracefully pointed petals are from the same...
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