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weeds n seeds's Blog

Gettin' them seeds goin'

Category: gardening | Posted: Wed Jan 30, 2008 8:00 pm

Time has FINALLY come to begin getting just a wee bit serious about planting seeds for this summers vegetables and flowers. January 21 saw gerberas (African Daisies that take 6 months to reach blooming size), lemon catnip (gotta keep the neighborhood cats happy!), asters, bushy Evening Primrose (to "treat" the hummingbird moths) and edible dandy-lions sowed, today it was Red Russian kale, Golden Ace cabbage, fringed decorative kale, Bon Vivant leaf lettuce and smooth-leaf spinach. The crops planted Jan. 21 are coming up, now the wait starts for today's.
The aster seed was taken from "volunteer" plants this past season, the wild Evening primrose seed came from a lovely plant I discovered growing out behind the workshop and was too nice to pass up, just had to collect some seed off spent spikes and save it! Am not a big seed-saver, so was very leary of expect, if anything. The asters were up within 3 days; the minute seedlings of the primrose are just beginning to show today and those brought great JOY to behold! As the primrose is classified as a biennial, I'll be really surprised if it blooms this year, but know it will in 2009 so is something to look forward to there. As for the double-flowering asters, time will tell if they're the annual variety or perennial, left the Mother plants alone, after a cutting back, to see if they'll return later in the season and, if not, I do have the new ones.
The Jan.21 planting of seeds were done in a seed-row planter, will all need transplanting into larger cells/pots/soil within next few weeks. Everything else has been planted in deep cell 6 paks, are in waterproof 1020 trays, covered with plastic domes and are on heat mats for bottom warmth to aid germination.
From the beginning, I leave the plastic domes propped up a bit up to allow for some air circulation, and once all seedlings appear, the domes come totally off, trays of plants that don't need bottom heat any longer are moved to a cooler section of the plant room to grow on. Using the deeper cells for germination would require huge amounts of seed staring medium to fill them, but came across a method in an English gardening book that I just LOVE, and results are GREAT! The bottom 2/3 of the cells are filled with regular dampened potting soil, and only the top 1/3 is filled with the dampened starting medium recommended for starting seeds. What this does is allow the seeds to be planted in a sterile medium and by the time a good root system forms, they are down into soil that affords what they need for good growth..and away they go!
Once seedlings get their second set of "true leaves", they get a light application of a 3 month timed-released pelleted fertilizer simply applied to top of soil (making sure it isn't touching the stems as it will burn them) that I press slightly in, and the watering slowly released til it's time for the plants to be set outside in their respective containers or beds. Works beautifully with any type container used to start seeds, and DOES help eliminate the "did I, or didn't I fertilize" syndrome by taking all the guesswork out of it as you can see the pellets on the soil's surface and know it's been done. I have been doing this for 3 seasons now with unbelievable success.
Have only scratched the surface, so far, starting seeds for 2008, will be an almost constant thing now from mid-February thru early May as I plant by lunar and astrological signs, and gotta get them seeds goin' when the time is right! Happy growing all!!!

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Dirt Under The Fingernails

Category: gardening | Posted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 5:31 pm

Spent 2 1/2 hours yesterday transplanting 60 little "Happy Faces" (pansies) into 3 inch pots and 6 pak cells. Have been waiting..very patiently..for the youngsters roots to start showing at the base of the seed row starter tray telling me "get us into something BIGGER!", and it finally happened: felt SOO GOOD getting my hands dirty while playing in the soil once again!
Started an early variety called "Carolina Giants", and some OLD mixed pansy seeds of several types, in November, planted the old seeds a bit on the heavy side as I didn't know what to expect from them. Much to my surprise, had excellant germination with ALL, even had to cull a few because they were too thickly planted! Broke me heart to do it, but was necessary, watered in the potted seedlings with the tears that fell..what can I say?
I've had a terrible time with getting good pansy seed germination last few years no matter what I tried, so for this season bought/used Pro Mix seed starting medium..the results more than speak for themselves so far! Seedlings are strong and healthy, root systems absolutely beautiful!
They've been transplanted into Pro Mix potting soil now, should have blooming plants by Memorial Day if all goes according to Hoyle, can't WAIT for their lovely scents and joyous colors to greet me when I walk into the greenhouse later in the season! There's just something about them that "makes the day" when nothing else is doing much yet. Way it looks, there'll be hanging baskets and containers full of pansies everywhere, but that's okay in my book as they're such "happy plants".
At present, the trays are still in my sunroom in front of big, south-facing windows, are on bottom heat just in CASE temp out there wants to nosedive during a nasty cold spell (so far, knock on wood!, temp has been getting no lower than 50 degrees nights even tho' outside temps have been as low as 0!). Will let the babies adapt a bit to new potting up, then remove them to another shelf without heat til they can be evacuated into unheated greenhouse, probably in late February.
Next to start are gerberas, blue mealy sage (which looks like Russian Sage), and evening primroses (seeds I saved from a wild plant) end of this month, then in February will be about 30 other things, including peppers and cool weather plants. By May, poor sunroom AND greenhouse will be overflowing with "green" things of all descriptions imagineable! Needless to say, I just LOVE starting everything from seed and watching it grow, especially when the snow's still flyin' outside!

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