Showing posts with label seed starting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label seed starting. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I louuuve it

Scott recently turned me on to Carol Klein's wonderful BBC series Life in a Cottage Garden. BBC gardening shows are completely unlike the gardening shows we have in the U.S. They feature actual gardeners instead of landscape architects who are more concerned with your hardscaping and where to place your lavender plants.

Carol Klein is wonderfully goofy, exclaiming over discoveries in her garden, lamenting dead plants, then immediately and unapologetically finding a replacement. It's so wonderful to see her running around in January in a ratty motorcycle jacket, dirty fingernails digging through her compost (pronounced COMpawst) heap. She would never get on American TV, which is a shame. She's muddy and a little bit crazy, like most gardeners.

I learned so much about plant propagation just from the first episode. She inspired me to try propagating some of my plants, like my Echium candicans 'Star of Madeira' and my 'Little Honey' Oakleaf Hydrangea.

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Little Honey'

I took two different approaches with the hydrangea: layering (which I learned about from Ricki) and cuttings tucked into "some nice gritty COMpawst." Hopefully they'll all take and I'll have some to share and some to tuck into the beds. It's such a small bright thing, why not make more? They don't look super great right now, what with our heavy rain and humidity. I'm hoping they rebound.

I'm not sure the echium cuttings will take but there's no harm in trying. I love that Carol takes cuttings of her tender plantings to her greenhouse, just in case the mother plant doesn't make it through the winter. So smart!

This spring was my first real foray into seed starting and I had mixed results. The Amsonia hubrichtii seeds from Nan Ondra sprouted and I've potted them up in the hope that they'll be transplanting size next spring. I had one lone Rudbeckia maxima seedling that I coddled and babied until I realized it was a weed. I felt so dumb.

When I started gardening I'd read gardening blogs and despair at the unending list of things those gardeners were doing: mulching, pinching back, deadheading, weeding, fertilizing (with what sounded like a different one for every plant!), pruning, thinning, collecting seeds, weeding, propagating . . . I thought I'd never have a nice garden because I didn't have time for all that. Every year I manage to add something new to my routine; this year I started deadheading things and it doesn't take much time or energy. And if I forget it's okay, too. Everything builds from year to year and you get to the point where you don't feel so much like you're behind the eight ball. I mean, spring will always be crazy and my garden will always have things needing doing, but I actually fertilized my bamboo (and that weed I thought was Rudbeckia) this year! Go me.

Are there any other wonderful gardening shows I'm missing out on? I'm looking forward to spending time this winter tucked under a blanket, watching them.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Seed starting for stupid people

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."


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.