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Starting seeds, Part 4

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

We came from here:

http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1304074/

We're still at it, still sowing seeds for our gardens, still asking questions, still sharing methods, successes and disappointments, all are welcome.

The latest topic was on late summer sowing of perennials. I've tried sowing a couple of things in late summer and early fall, but without much success. I'm not sure how to set things up properly, I'd Ike to work on that.

I'm working on mostly annuals now, but still trying a few recalcitrants and a few new acquisitions. My big excitement of the moment is that one Schizanthus sprouted. I'm hoping for more...


This message was edited Apr 23, 2013 9:24 PM

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

Glad you got at least one Schizanthus.

To sow late summer or early fall, you need a greenhouse or what I used, a plain coldframe. Actually it is just 4 boards 12" tall placed together in square formation. I got lucky and got culled lumber at HD cheap. No need for cover since you aren't trying to protect them from the weather. It just protects them from animals and give you some control over them in an somewhat enclosed area.

Family $ was selling a set that I bought last year. I have 3 coldframes. Walmart and Sam's Club also sells them. Can't remember what I paid. They are holding iris and Daylily seedlings.

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

I have a sort-of cold frame, but never quite got it in the right spot. Every spring I look at it and think how to make it more useful, but never get around to fixing it. I end up using the stand with the plastic cover most of the time.

Do you use cell packs and 2" or 4" pots, or cluster sow everything in larger containers? Do you cover the pots at all while waiting for germination? What do you do about watering?

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

OK, now I get it. I just went back to the old thread and re-read your detailed post. You started the seeds in the usual way, either in the greenhouse or (I guess) indoors, then transplanted them into the cold frame for the winter. I could probably use my covered stand for that phase. And I do have raised beds in my little veggie area, I've actually put some co-op and newly divided babies in them to over-winter.

But what about, for instance, Astrantia, Eryngium Miss Willmott's Ghost, some Aquilegias, that are soooo tricky? I can't wintersow, because we're not around after the solstice. I've tried sowing a few things in vented containers before closing the house in late November, with no results. Maybe I'd be better off to direct sow in a cold frame, and maybe cover it with Reemay or something similar just to keep out debris and soften the elements a little?

Columbus, OH

I use those plastic-covered stands as well, except this year. New puppy wouldn't leave them alone, next year she'll be old enough not to feel the need to explore everything by chewing :)

I have a few packets of seed that I just bought that need cold stratification, I'll throw the pots in the frig in June or July, then bring them out in August.

Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

blomma, I was planting my trees, shrubs, Peonies, Iris g., and Roses. I started last Oct. and finished what I could before winter set in. All were already in pots waiting for the ground. those I didn't finish are sitting in pots and will be put in this spring. I did make sure to keep them watered in good over the winter tho. Last time I looked (about a week ago), the Lonicera tatarica was showing green swollen buds, so I know they made it.

We just had 2" of snow yesterday, now waiting for it to melt off so I can start getting outside. Suppost to be mid 60*s tomorrow and then into the 70*s. I'm soooo ready. Chat at you all later....Kathy

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

Quote from Pfg :
OK, now I get it. I just went back to the old thread and re-read your detailed post. You started the seeds in the usual way, either in the greenhouse or (I guess) indoors, then transplanted them into the cold frame for the winter. I could probably use my covered stand for that phase. And I do have raised beds in my little veggie area, I've actually put some co-op and newly divided babies in them to over-winter.

But what about, for instance, Astrantia, Eryngium Miss Willmott's Ghost, some Aquilegias, that are soooo tricky? I can't wintersow, because we're not around after the solstice. I've tried sowing a few things in vented containers before closing the house in late November, with no results. Maybe I'd be better off to direct sow in a cold frame, and maybe cover it with Reemay or something similar just to keep out debris and soften the elements a little?


I can see why you can't winter sow. Why not follow my method by sowing in August then place the seedling in your coldframe for the winter. The stand can only take potted seedlings and that isn't safe. The pots could crack with moisture and freezing. The seedling are much safer with roots in the ground. If you happen to have some kind of mulch (grass clipping, etc.) would keep soil evenly moist. By the way, I used to have Aquilegias and never found them tricky. They do need stratification.

You can even do what I do to iris seeds by sowing in plastic shoe boxes with moist seed mix. Put them in a larger bin and cover to keep them safe. Leave on the north side of a building, or unheated garage all winter. By the time you come back to your summer home, they may be ready to start germinating.

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

Here is what I mean. these are for Iris seeds but you can do the same with any seeds. Notice that they are covered to keep the seed mix from drying out.

These were done winter of 2011. I have 144 iris seedling in my garden nurseries that were sown in those containers.

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(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

I did exactly that year before last with 2 types of Aquilegia and Eryngium Miss Willmott's Ghost. Nothing came up. I even left the box out in the garden all year, and this spring there is still nothing. I thought maybe it dried out at some point after germination and seedlings died, but since we're not there for 4 months there's no way to know.

I used the type of box in the pic, the same ones I use for spring sowing. About 2 or 3" of potting soil, then another inch or 2 of seed starting soil on top, and left it on the north side of the house in shelter but open to the elements. The box has plenty of drainage holes (I use a soldering iron) and holes for venting on top. Both top and bottom are lined with Reemay to keep out slugs and other undesirables.

I thought I'd try sowing in containers in the stand, then plant the seedlings in the cold frame for the winter. I wouldn't leave anything in the stand once we leave. There would be no way to make sure of watering, for one thing. BTW, the pots don't disintegrate over the winter. I leave lots of things in them in a back area of the garden, usually small divisions of plants I don't want to lose track of, like single daylily or iris fans for instance.

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Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

Pfg'
You can winter sow if you premoisted the seed mix (just damp, not wet), then sow your seeds in November, or just before leaving your house. You want to sow when the nights are cold. Then cover the box/s. They will not need any looking after once the cover is on. You can place the box anyplace as long as it is out of the sun. I like the plastic shoeboxes for the lids that snaps on.

I have never left my seed boxes open to the elements. Rain and/or snow can come so fast that it can dislodge the seeds. Also, moisture won't stay even, not to mention animals. Or too much moisture, or not enough.

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

I've decided that soaking tiny seeds isn't worth it unless I can find a better way to plant them evenly. Sure, the ones I soaked came up quickly, but the placement in the cells was very spotty. As an experiment, I soaked Lobelia Crystal Palace last weekend for 24 hours, then planted in a cell pack. I had another package which I did the regular way, and had enough seeds for 4 packs. Wet seeds stick together, which makes things very difficult. We'll see what comes up..

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

Cross post...

Blomma, the box wasn't open, it had a top on. But the box was not placed under an overhang, so it could get rained on, etc, but never got direct sun.

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

Just took these pics-- look at the difference between these 2 types of petunias! P Easy Wave started blooming at 6 weeks, and they are branching nicely with no pinching. The roots are now bursting out of the bottom of the pot. I have to give them more room since there's still a month to go before planting outside. But P Storm hasn't really gotten going yet. Yesterday I moved them up from cell packs, and the roots were just filling them, not all that firmly. They could have stayed in there longer.

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Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

Pam, which Aquuileia are you trying to get started? If I have them I will share in your May box..... So far I have: A. short spur pink, A. short spur blue, A. 'Sweet Rainbows', A. 'Maggie Mae', A. c.' Denver's Gold', these have all been potted on, (ok some that I have a ton of are waiting to be potted later ) These varieties are waiting to be potted on: A. (a mix of numerous varieties), A. 'Chocolate Soldier's', A. vulgaris 'Winky Dbl Rose/white', A. stelata 'Christa Barlow'.

And I started these without any special treatment (cold or other), was my regular method and surface sown, lol, and SEE they do start just fine (for me, maybe they like me, lol)..

Weatherpersons reported this was the 2nd coldest April on recored (going back more than 100 years), boy, I'm ready for some warmer temps... 60s and 70s sound wonderful, thankyou very much!!! (We had a few temps last week still in the teens).

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

Maggie Mae is the one I had trouble with. I have seeds again (thanks!) but haven't done anything with them yet. Christa Barlow is happy with me, I'm planning on getting her and a few others hardened off this weekend. Night temps are going to the mid 30's, but not freezing. Everything that was out in the covered stand is getting booted, and the next batch is going into it from the house.

How soon can I put the Dianthus out? BTW, the fragrance is heavenly! Also, in the seeds you sent me I have lots of lovely lavender, and one gorgeous white :))))).

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(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

I opened up the mini GH today to let the sun and breezes in, an absolutely gorgeous day, mid- to-high 60's.

Our nights are getting slightly warmer, above freezing by a couple of degrees, 34 degrees predicted for tonight. All the digitalis and some lettuce starts are staying outside of the covered stand tonight. At the last minute, the Alchemilla and Aquilegia got tucked in for one more night. Too much schlepping and I really didn't have to bother because there was a shelf free for the snaps and campanula that made the journey from the city this morning and spent the day outside.

ONE (1) Detroit Red Beet seed germinated after 2 weeks, it was about a mile long. First I thought it was a twist tie that had somehow gotten stuck in one of the cells. But when I pulled on it, there were roots. No leaves. Really?!

Oops, time to set the table, DH is making dinner ;)

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

Temps during the week were 70/34. Absolutely gorgeous weekend.

Red Ace beets germinated in less than a week inside, no heat. I barely looked at them, spent the whole weekend outside, cleaning up and clearing.

Hardened off all digitalis, aquilegia, most campanula and snaps. Left everything on self watering trays in the covered stand with the door rolled up, covered loosely with Reemay so they stay cool. Next week: planting. Whoopee!!

Back in the city, un-soaked Lobelia came up in 5 days, thick and evenly sown. So much for that.

Calgary, Canada

Was the lobelia under lights?
I did not start any so,--- I bought plants, but if they start that quick----
there is time here too.

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

No lights, but under a dome, in a warm apartment. I used new Hart's L Crystal Palace seeds, they're the deepest blue. I was quite surprised to see tiny green fuzz so soon.

Calgary, Canada

Thanks. It may be they do not take as long as I thought.

Columbus, OH

Hardening off seedlings...cosmos, beans of all sorts, Limelight 4 O'Clocks, Castor bean, nasturtiums, and assorted Ipomoeas.

New sprouts: More WS stuff coming up, the plants that like it a little warmer. I probably have 6 or 8 Orlaya now! WS is def the way to go with these. I'm disappointed not to see sprouts of variegated KMOGG, I know they germinated well last year, but it was unseasonably warm and I'm hoping I'm just impatient.

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

None of my WS stuff is coming up yet, but in the garden things are springing to life so it won't be long. My WS is actually SS, Spring Sowing, and late even for that, so I may not get everything. I didn't do anything tricky, saved a bunch of seeds to try for late summer/ fall germination.

My Orlaya is doing well, started it inside in late March. It took two weeks to germinate after soaking for 24 hours, then leaving it by an open window for the cold treatment.

I may have 1 Veronica seedling... Or maybe it's a stray, lol. Something is growing in there!

Celene, what zone are you in? You must be a lot warmer there. We still have nights in the low 40's, too cold for the plants you mention.

Columbus, OH

I'm 6a. I keep my WS plants domed with 6" domes, that helps a lot.

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

Do you have a pic of your set-up? Here's mine, not from this year, but the same thing I'm doing now.

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Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

Pam...just harden off the Dianthus, the same as other plants, now is good. Love the pix, the pink is sooooo pretty.. Glad you like the smell, heavenly huh!!?

Ran out of puter air time so probably won't be back til next Tues, (sharing with 6 other people soooooo, Lol, the kids beat me to it.) Will check in later to read any new posts.

Anyway it's suppose to rain this afternoon and then change to snow overnight, (6-10"), am hoping my babies I moved outside the other day make it ok... They are in a covered area with 2 layers of remay as it's suppose to get down to the upper 20*-30*. Doesn't look like it will warm up again til the end of the week. I'm soooooooooooo ready to get plants out of the house..lol. I wanna garden! Still a bunch to do yet. In the back where I'm establishing my new garden, still waiting on new buds for most things. Got a few things that are coming out of their winter slumber but not enough to see how much made it thru the winter, which was soo dry early in the season. But now we are catching up on moisture, just need the warmth... Am sure I lost a few Iris, shucks.... and they were some that I had sent away for... A few peonies are waking, honeysuckle bushes (atleast 4 of 5), and the buds are starting to swell on a few of the trees, but one got injured over the winter, deer rubbed off the bark on one side, I'm hoping I can save it!!!!! It's a beautiful Linden tree!!!! Now ya can figure out why I dislike those critters as much as I do!!! GGGGRRRRRRRR! I'd love 'em if they would stay out of the garden, but they seem to have a path that comes straight thru my place, many of the Iris were stomped on and have been replanted.. Guess I better get that new fencing up PRONTO!!!

Still potting things on, am thinking it will be months, maybe I should put off doing most of the biennials or those perenns that won't bloom til next year anyhow.. Ive got plenty of annuals to work on. Ok, you all have a great week!!!!

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

I hate them too, have seen a few nibbles already. Time to spray. Grrrrrrr!!!!

Maybe it's time to move outside, along with all our babies... I decided not to start my own marigolds and cosmos and other of the usual annuals this year. I already have so many I can't live without- snaps, petunias, lobelia, Nicotianas, Verbena Bonariensis, not to mention a few new ones, like Dracocephalum, Datura, Ceratothca- or is it perennial? ...and can't think of the rest right now.... I'll get them all in, then see if I need to fill in and go buy a few 6-packs.

Newly cleared bed, where lots of Sunflowers and tall self seeders are going to battle it out with the tall grasses. Yep, I had help, he worked 7 hours, I worked 10. But he did all the heaviest lifting. My butt still knows I was out there, though, but at least my back is OK, lol.

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Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

HI....I'm back..lol. Daughter decided to increase computer time, yeah!!!
I ended up with 5+" of snow, but it's the cool temps I'm not sure about. The babies outside got covered with 2 layers of remay blanket. The low this morning was 22*. I still haven't been out to look yet, still waiting for it to warm today, will get to 45*. May go look later, if not will check tomorrow.

Hey Pam, after hubby is done will just about be warm enough here for him to help me....lol.

Need to start those last minute Annuals but I look at what I've got already and go yikes, but I know if I don't I'll regret not having some of them.... Oh ya...Pam if you still want your Cosmos can just throw the seed where you want them. They will sprout ontheir own when they are ready... I quit doing them inside cuz they truely are as easy as just throwing the seed!!!!! If you need more seed I have sooooooooo much, let me know.. (I have bags of seed, mostly a mix of Sensation and seems like I threw another variety out there to mix in a few years back.)

Hey Susie, how are your seeds doing.

I saw a few Daffs. out there the other day before the snow....shucks I forgot to stop and smell them...Will have to see how they faired this last go around with snow and cool temps. Also have some Johnny-jump-ups that are blooming.

Weatherman reported that April was the second coldest in the last 80 years. Wow, I thought it was cool...lol. Guess that's why I haven't done any cleanup yet.

Ok will chat at you all later..Have a good day!! Kathy

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

Sooooo glad you got more time! Missed you!

Is it usual for you to get so much snow this late? For us it's extremely unlikely, although it has been known to happen, and never that much. Our night temps have been above freezing lately, hope that continues. I hope all your babies made it under the Reemay. 22 seems reeeeaaaally cold! Brrrrr!

That isn't hubby in the pic above... Our general landscape guy who has a crew do our mowing and big clean ups let me have one of his guys @ $12/hr for the day, not bad around here. He moved some huge daylily clumps out from the back of the bed, and moved some huge clumps of grasses from the front to the back. The un- mulched section has a lot more tall grass and some other stuff it was too soon to identify, so I left it for now. I think there were only two varieties of grasses there, but there could have been more, planted before my time. That bed has been pretty much a huge mess with weeds and volunteers, so I've always winced and not looked too closely. It's pretty from a distance when the grasses bloom, but the time has finally come to get control of it... At least I hope that's what I'm doing, lol.

Today I realized I really, really want Impatiens Balfourii even though it's late. So while I was at it I also started Impatiens Balsamina, Zinnias Envy and Oklahoma Ivory, and Cosmos Versailles Flush. Everything else is direct sow or buy. I know Cosmos comes quick, but I really want to see this one, new to me. Also, I have a lot to direct sow at this point, and a lot yet to come up in the Spring Sown box. Come to think of it, Cosmos might have been a good one to start that way.

I think I have one (1) seedling of Veronica Fairytale! It was in a 3 oz cup, seed starting mix with a topper of vermiculite, for 2 1/2 weeks. It's not the first time this year I tried that method-- thanks, WWK!- but either it's a stray of something else, or It finally worked. It's so late now that I may not find out what it is before fall though, lol.

Tomorrow morning I pack up another flat or two to take out to the house. Babies in the miniGH get kicked out, more gets moved out of the house into it... Dianthus, for one. And once I see the Platys showing in the garden, I'll start working on those, too. I have a feeling they'll be about the last ones, though.

My body has recovered from last weekend, time to get out there again- Can't wait!

Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

Yes we can get snow into May, not that unusual around here... In Denver the last date is usually April 25th ish, but not uncommon to get it, but usually not that much.. and the temps are unusual, should be warmer.....the overnight low was 19 in Denver..Yikes. High today 44* and is supppose to be 66*.

Yup, thought I was going into withdrawal....lol.. Seems like the only people I can talk plants with are here at Dave's so is very nice to have the computer..lol.. I can't help it if this is my hobby.. You ever notice how much most us sound like we are talking about our kids (OUR PROUD LITTLE BABIES) lol..

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

Same for me, lol

Columbus, OH

It is easier to feel triumphant if I tell people here "I germinated sinningia seeds from my own plants!!!" and you understand why that is so cool.

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

Very, very cool -- I had to look it up, lol

Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

Ok, I'll have to look up that $12 word...lol.

When you stop and think that most of the gardening I have done has been started from seed, (exceptions are the Iris, Peonies, and Lilies were bought, tho I've started those from seed also). Yes, pride does set in..lol. (sorry...lol.) To think my garden was started from the plants in the last two pix.....Hobbies....aren't they great!! I still have seed that has been collected from the past 20 or so years..

Ok, now I'll go look up the word, might even be a $20 word...lol. ^_^

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Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

Kudos!! lol, I've grown a hardy Gloxinia has anyone else? LOL.

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

I'm always blown away by what you've done there, it's such a huge undertaking. But I think this year, between what you planted last fall and the seeds you started this winter, you have surpassed yourself. I have energy, but you leave me in the dust!

I have a whole pile of seeds to try late summer/fall sowing, which I'm really looking forward to. But right now, all I want to do is get into the garden and dig, dig dig. I'm sure I have lots of company ^_^

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

Tee hee... Just learned how to do that! ^_^. ^_^

Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

Does anyone recognize the plant in pix 1. This was suppose to be the Digitalis grandiflora, it reminds me of Potentilla or Geum. Any ideas now that it's a bit bigger and I have a close up of it?

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Columbus, OH

Def not any kind of Digitalis I've seen. Geum leaves are different; it could be a potentilla, though.

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

Def not D Grandiflora. Doesn't look like Geum to me either. Could it be the wild
P Recta? Pale yellow flowers. But the leaves seem too big and not quite right for that either. Maybe try the plant ID forum?

Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

Pix 1A mix of babies, in front is a tray of Nicotiana sylvestris, some Digitalis behind and in the far back I see some Alcea (hollyhocks).
Pix 2 Verbascum chaixii
Pix 3 Pam....I experimented, when I took a clippings (2) off my Platycodons, I stuck them in an open cell. One kealed over after a few days and here is the other. Looks like it might just root for me...So next time try it and see what you can come up with..More plants..lol. Yeah!!

This message was edited May 4, 2013 8:42 AM

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