Did any of you participate in Nan Ondra's great seed giveaway? I have gotten so much inspiration from Nan's blog and I jumped at the chance to get some seed from her favorite plants. The only problem is that I find seed starting really intimidating. For something that happens in the wild all the time with no help from humans, there seem to be a lot of rules. And equipment: sterile soil, heat pads, special lamps, etc.
Now that I've finally realized that annuals are awesome and totally of value in the garden, I think that I need to start saving seed and making my own. Then when I buy a new annual I can think of it as an investment. I decided to try the wintersown method, which means no heating pads or artificial lights. I'm just prepping the seeds and letting them germinate outside. But I'm me, so I screwed up a number of things. We'll see what happens!
The wintersown people are really into using tupperware for seed starting but I'm always short on tupperware and rich in plant containers, so I just used some of the hundreds I have in my garage. They say to wash your containers with warm soapy water, lest you infect your seedlings with disease. I didn't do that because I'm lazy. I may lose all of them because of it. Someone chastise me in the comments!
I did use seed starting soil! It was very expensive.
I googled seed sowing instructions for the seeds I had and put them in to the depth they indicated. Then I put the pots into a pan with some water because the Internet told me to. The idea is that the water wicks up from the bottom of the pot and doesn't disturb your seeds. I read after I plopped them in there that the water should be warm, "like water that has sat our for 24 hours."
DO YOU SEE WHAT I MEAN ABOUT SEED STARTING BEING SO WEIRDLY SPECIFIC? This is why people are scared to garden.
My water was cold and it didn't want to wick up. I didn't have any 24 hour water sitting around! So I sprayed the top of the soil with a spray bottle.
For the seeds that want a warm humid environment I applied a layer of plastic wrap. For any seeds that didn't mention warm/humid I just gave them a layer of chicken grit so they wouldn't crust over (Nan does this, it's her fault if it doesn't work). In the plastic wrap I poked three air holes and then slammed a plant marker through. Then they got moved to a sunny spot in the garden. I'll have to monitor that the soil doesn't dry out.
At Dan Hinkley's lecture at the Yard Garden and Patio show he quoted his friend JC Ralston as saying, "If we're not out killing plants, we're not doing our job." So . . . mission accomplished, maybe. I'll keep you posted. And my apologies if you were one of the people who wanted Amsonia hubrichtii or Rudbeckia maxima and didn't get any because of me.