Updated: Feb 17, 2020
Seed raising is my most anticipated job at the beginning of the season. The potential in each seed and thinking ahead to what it can become is nothing short of miraculous. We so take this little bit of magic in nature for granted and teach kids that from this seed a flower will grow or our veggies and we leave it at that - but to really stop and think about that transformation and life cycle makes you wonder how can it be so and what an amazing place this planet is that we live on.
I had already purchased some seed a couple of weeks ago. I buy seed from Diggers, The Seed Collection, Ebay and Jardin de Fleur just to name a few. We have had to put a cap on seed spending because there is really an infinite number of plants to grow that I just feel I need to grow.
I like to start a lot of our over wintering plants in February when the days are still warm making for speedy germination and ideal growing conditions to get the babies up to a good size before the cool weather of late autumn starts to slow everything down. The weather gods have given us some cool days lately including today but I have the seed trays inside plastic boxes which act like a greenhouse so hopefully they are snug enough until it warms up again otherwise it might take them a little longer than normal for them to pop up.
Today I sowed a total of 25 varieties – with some variations within. I have tucked away:
· Poppy - iceland, angel choir, shirley double and oriental
· Delphinium – has been chilled
· Larkspur = has been chilled
· Bunny tails
· Corn cockle
· Mignonette - "Little Darling" in french - i have a soft spot for her.
· Blue lace flower - first time
· Billy button
· Rose mallow
· Cerinthe – saved seed
· Lunaria – saved seed
· Bupleurum – saved seed
· Carnation - that clove smell!
· Forget me not
· Everlasting daisy
· Nigella transformer - first time for this yellow variety
· Canterbury blue bells
· Queen anne’s lace - lovely dried, a favourite in wreaths
· Aquilegia – has been chilled
· Hollyhock - just for the garden
I have held off on sowing Godetia and Linaria as I find they get too leggy and are not overly strong seedlings when grown in the warmer conditions. I’ll definitely be getting them in as the weather cools. Linaria is one of my favourites as it is one of the first to bloom after winter and flowers for such a long time. I’m hoping to find some self seeded ones out there this spring too. Always a treat to find self sown!
Along with the seedlings we also will put in ranunculus, freesias and anemones. We have some jonquils which come out most years but have always struggled with daffodils which is such a shame. I will buy some pink daffodils for Liv though and will plant them in pots to keep up at the house. Daffodils are Liv’s favourite which makes not being able to grow them hard! There must be a way….!!
We normally use pre made seed raising mixes or the coir peat blocks which do work great but I’m going to try another mix as well consisting of coir, compost, blood and bone, perlite and worm castings with the hope that I can get these ingredients in bulk making the mix go further which will save me money to help with that cap I spoke about!
We do get frost in the winter here and there are some plants that thrive on it like poppies. I dream of a field of poppies and will be focusing a lot on trying to make that a spring time reality this year! Poppy seeds need bottom watering so as not to wash the tiny seed away with an overhead and apparently, they are slow to germinate so I need to just pay attention and really baby them until they are strong enough to put out in autumn.
Seasonally our summers are quite long and our springtime has the smallest window so often things are just starting to bloom at end of winter/ early spring and then the heat comes in cutting bloom times short. I’m still making observations and taking notes every year to work out what thrives for the longest time here. I have a desire to want to grow it all though! Sweet peas are an example where grow time is so long through winter and into spring and then the heat arrives and starts them on way to seed and out. And still I sow sweet pea every year – gardeners know how to start over!
I don’t direct sow much as our weeds and grass are much too vigorous and over powering. At the same time that doesn’t stop me from trying every year just with the scatter and leave technique made famous by our favourite Austrian Sepp Holzster. We just had a break in the rain so I went down to the garden and scattered some everlasting daisy seed – fingers crossed.