Tag Archives: starting plants from seed

Green fingers and thumbs and toes, oh my

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I managed to do some planting over the weekend! It was lovely and sunny on Saturday, and I got out my box o’ seeds and decided what I wanted to grow. I had a look back, and I’m two weeks ahead of when I planted things last March, yay!

In one of my big raised beds (the ones I made last year), I put radish, two kinds of carrot, and some rocket. There’s two of last year’s late-planted carrots and a sad excuse for purple sprouting broccoli that have survived the winter in that box, so I left them alone. The carrot packet in the photo is dated ‘for planting year 2001’. They’ll still grow, I promise!

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For veg, I have a dearth of good things, it seems. I gave up on cauliflower (blecch, anyway) and regular broccoli a few years ago. They are related to cabbages, and probably because cabbage is so common, this country has every insect and disease known to horticulture ready and waiting to attack members of the brassica family. I never knew cauliflower could turn bright yellow and go slimy. Hubby never ate the heads I managed to save, anyway. And it stinks like the inside of a cow’s intestine. I’m not a fan, can you tell?

I always grow basil and it always looks great and then turns black. Sigh. Got some red cherry tomatoes, some kind of supposedly edible gourd, bell peppers, courgette (zucchini) and broad beans. I really want to try to grow corn but I have low-to-no hopes for it surviving here. I don’t have any seed, either.

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I have three definite colours of iDJ’s favourite, the cornflower – red white and blue! Also a mix, in the hopes that I get some pink ones.

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His other favourite, cosmos, is also in three colours, white, white with a pink edge, and a mixed selection that also has funky double petals. I didn’t grow the pink/white ‘candy stripe’ last year, and I missed it, so it’s back.

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His last year’s favourite, rudbeckia, did not survive the winter here (despite the advert on the packet, hmm) so I’ve got it on the go again, too. You would not believe how TINY rudbeckia seeds are! I’m going to surprise him, hopefully, with a new bloom, gaillardia. The aquilegia (what I call columbine) and the coleus are for me, taking me back to a good flower garden I had in Ohio.

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I’ve also got two kinds of red sunflowers for him, with no clue where I’m meant to put them in my garden. According to the packet as they grow 6 to 9 feet (1.8 to 2.7m) tall, yikes! I have some violas and dianthus (a different variety of dianthus than what I’ve had growing out front for years). I think I tried to grow both last year with no germination. Oh well, the seeds are free!

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I put out a lot of garlic that had gone well past its use-by date, as in it was mostly dried up or had a long green shoot coming out of each clove (or both). I find it grows amazingly well here. Easy and no maintenance to speak of. Shove it in dirt, water when dry, dig up when the greenery dies back. In a few months, one sorry-ass clove becomes a good sized garlic bulb. It tastes wonderful fresh.

My back didn’t appreciate the work, and our weather is meant to be very cold and windy but dry until the end of the month. Nevertheless, I’ve got everyone snug inside their propagators, and we move them from sunny morning windowsill to sunny evening windowsill daily. I dreamt last night that they had already begun to sprout – so I had a look when I got home tonight to see if I was right.

I was! The early birds are the gaillardia, all of the cosmos except the white, the mixed cornflower, and the ‘velvet queen’ sunflower. I’m so excited!

Seedier than usual! Betcha didn’t think that was possible.

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It’s been coooold here. Currently, at just about 8pm, the sun is bright but I’m indoors instead of outdoors. I gave it a good try, for nearly two hours, but it’s bloody 10 outside. 10C. That’s 50F. I’m warm-blooded and all, but the breeze makes it even colder and I just couldn’t take it any longer. When my nose runs and a couple of random fingers turn white and numb, it’s time to go in. Sigh.

But from the looks of it, we have at least another hour of sunshine beating in through the windows, which is fantastic. Because on Sunday, I spent a few hours making an unholy mess in the kitchen planting seeds.

Which of course, required me doing a shit-ton of dishes first, so I had room to make said unholy mess. How did I end up being chief dishwasher and bottle-scrubber? Bah. In any case, I put my time in, and took breaks to sit in the sun so the stupid back didn’t get too annoyed with me, and I ended up planting a small fraction of my seedacopia (It’s like a pharmacopeia {eww, the UK spelling for that is just wrong. Reminds me of coprolites} but with seeds). My mother in law works in a newsagent and when no one buys the magazines, they rip off the cover and return it to the publisher for a refund. But gardening magazines usually come with free seeds. Instead of throwing them away, she sets them aside and gives them to me! Hence, I have a lot of seeds.

I’d love a proper and pretty metal seed-organiser, but as ye know I’m cheap and I recycle/repurpose, so a big shoe box holds them for now- until I have too many and need one box for flowers and one for vegetables. Maybe I’ll paint the box I have! That’s a good idea…

Anyhoo, the sun is helping these new lives begin, and I’m thrilled to bits. If you have never grown from seed, start with carrots – it’s amazing something so big and tasty can come from something so damn tiny! I’m amazed every time when my minimal effort, some dirt, water, light and warmth can bring forth a huge plant from a tiny, dry nubbin that seems so very, very, lifeless.

But…as I said from the start, it’s coooooolllllldddd. I didn’t think anything at all would have the moxie to actually make the effort toward life, even though I’m keeping the seed trays indoors. Imagine my surprise when by only Tuesday I had sprouts! It was the morning glories I started for my Canadian friend. She has a long garden at her new rental house, and needs something to grow upwards and be a visual blocker to keep her greyhound from going through the fences. I thought a nice hardy and pretty climber might do the trick. According to Lagitana, morning glory is a bit of an invasive weedy pest, so it makes sense that it was the first to catch the spark of life.

I got a bit smarter this year and actually wrote down what I planted! So here’s the list, and believe me, I’d love to have about eight more seed trays so I could keep going and going and going…

April 15 plantings

Beets, Carrot autumn king, Purple broccoli, Basil
Californian poppy; Morning glory; Ladybird poppy
Coleus mix, Cosmos mix, Dianthus
Rudbeckia, Larkspur, White cornflower, Blue cornflower

I also tried some ancient beans iDJ found in a skip (Dumpster) and raspberry and lilac seeds I collected in the wild – not likely these will grow but what the hell.

So far I have the morning glory, both colours of cornflower, the rudbeckia, the cosmos and either the coleus or dianthus (I don’t know which end of the tray is which, oops), the rudbeckia… And I can’t really figure out what else. Nothing out of the beets, carrots or broccoli yet, but I didn’t have them under cover until today when I decided to put them in a clear plastic bag to help out.

I’m so surprised it took them less than a week. The cornflowers are the tallest, by the way – and I did the blue ones last year in pots out front and enjoyed them – they got so tall and flowered for ages, and the dry blooms looked nice in an unused vase until the cats decided they were a tasty treat…

Oh – last but by no means least is the lavender from seed! Apparently this is a difficult plant to get going from scratch, but a month in damp soil in my fridge (in one of the plastic-lidded takeout containers from our gorgeous local Chinese that I saved. See, being thrifty comes in handy!) did the trick and I now have five little guys about a centimetre tall each in their own 3″ pot – I really hope I can keep them going, as my store-bought lavender died two years ago in our first bad snowy winter.

Yay for some green!