Get those seeds planted!

Not that she was bragging, but Amy over at MissingHenryMitchell posted about having her new cyclamen seeds planted at least a full week or two before things finally kicked into gear over here…. (and she even got them a few days later than me!)  But peer pressure finally did its magic and I got my own cyclamen going.  My five selections from Green Ice Nursery in the Netherlands went into water filled baby food containers (fyi it doesn’t come in glass jars anymore) with a tiny bit of dish soap mixed in to help break the surface tension and wet the seed.cyclamen seed

A body in motion tends to stay in motion, so while the seeds sat for their overnight soak, I kept going and decided to plant as many spare seeds as were in my little seed box.  Most everything is fair game, the only exceptions being some hot weather annuals who’s seed would freeze to death, some biennials which would be better sown in mid summer (why bother earlier, they won’t bloom till the following year anyway), and some plants which I’ll start indoors early for a head start.  Today’s seeds (mostly perennials) are going outside to brave the winter and then hopefully sprout in the spring.  My first step is line up pots and shove a scrap of newspaper into the bottom to keep the soil from falling out the drain holes. starting seeds

I’m not a serious seed sower, I don’t scrub the pots clean with a 10% bleach solution, I’m careless with my soil mix, and I don’t research the exact germination needs of my seeds (all good ideas).  If you have some special seeds or want to take a dip in the waters of serious seed starting science, I’d suggest this post by Nancy Ondra over at Hayefield blog.  The stuff on the Deno method is really interesting and I was pleased last spring when I tried it out myself.

Soil and labels are the next step.  I use a mix of 3 parts whatever potting soil I have with about 1 part sharp (sandbox) sand.  Labels are cut out of the old vinyl vertical blinds that came with the house.  I’ve heard many people like cutting up the slats from mini blinds…. another good idea- but this is what I have 🙂cheap plant labelsWriting out the labels probably takes the most time.  Name, notes, date, and source written with a plain old pencil.perennials from seedI fuss a bit over seed depth, but not as much as I should.  According to my highly non-technical methods, seeds are just dropped in and covered with chicken grit(crushed granite).  Larger rounded seed are planted as deep as 3/4 inch(~2cm), flat, light seed such as lily and fritillaria covered lightly, and anything fluffy (think dandelion seedheads) are barely covered and often still exposed.winter sown seeds Once the seed are laid out at their sorta proper depth, grit goes on.  Anyone who has ever tried to keep a gravel walk weed-free knows that gravel walks and patios make a perfect seed bed, the grit protects the surface and seeds from splashing around over winter and keeps the seed moist.  In fact if I have any really fine seed I’ll just start with a thin layer of grit first and then sprinkle seed on top.perennials from seedAnd that’s it.  I planted the cyclamen seed the same way (deeply) the next day, and although I’ll overwinter them in the cool garage (and hope for some germination), the rest will go outside sometime next week.  In a perfect world I would have done this in November and given them a patch of warm weather before they freeze, but this will have to do.  We’ll see what shows up next spring 🙂

9 comments on “Get those seeds planted!

  1. Pauline says:

    This all looks so organised! From all the seed you’ve sown, your garden is going to be full to bursting next year, will you have room for them all or will they be given away?

    • bittster says:

      Organized? I don’t hear that often! Thanks!
      I still have plenty of room, but few spots that are prepared with decent soil. At planting time my lack of organization will return and most of these seedlings will be shoehorned into inappropriate spots…. But many will thrive!
      Fortunately these are a lot of slow from seed bulbs and slow growing perennials. I have at least a year or more of procrastination ahead of me.

  2. Annette says:

    Blimey, you’re so well organized, it’s almost scary! Did you purchase the land next door? Or where will all these plants go? You could bring some over to me on your next trip to Europe…just a thought 😉

    • bittster says:

      Planting the seeds is the easy part! It takes me all summer and fall to find places to put in all the new little treasures… And by that time they’ve lead a hard life of too little fertilizer, too many droughts, and too much or too little sun. They are well prepared for the life they’ll lead in my garden!

  3. Amy Olmsted says:

    You do ‘seem’ very organized, but we are not seeing the whole picture here, so you can look as organized as heck! I have a bunch of Cyclamen seed to sow also and I use the same method as you, but I don’t put them outdoors for the winter or even into a garage, they go under lights for the duration, so I’ll wait a while before I start torturing any progeny that I can coax into growth.

    • bittster says:

      I’m hoping to get some cyclamen germinating this winter, my record has been hit or miss. Most years everything comes up but this last year nothing sprouted until the following fall! Nice to have them still, but I bet germination levels would have been much better if they were happier and sprouting asap!
      I’m sticking with the “organized” image, but I’ll need to be careful with photo cropping. There are many areas of the house and garage which go contrary to my new reputation.

  4. Thanks for the referral! At what point do you give up on a pot of seeds that seem to be doing nothing? I’m not sure I would let a pot of seeds piddle around until fall, unless I forgot about it, which is certainly a reasonable expectation.

    • bittster says:

      I guess that’s what I do -forget about them! They just all sit together on a tray next to the house in part shade, whatever sprouts gets more attention, the other pots just sit and wait. I give them two winters, but I’ve heard of people waiting as long as five and still getting scattered germination. That’s more of a commitment than I’m prepared to give 🙂

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