Since last year, I learned the hard way that poppies don't like to be moved. So unless you're really good at getting your hunks of seedlings out of the WS containers and then into the ground undisturbed, you've got a problem.
Some people had brought up the idea of using the expanding peat 'thingies' (need to stay technical), but were discouraged due to the fact that they were likely to dry out too quickly. Then others reported that their newspaper pot experiments didn't seem to work as well as hoped.
I have two ideas, and need to know their chances for success. The first is still using the expandable peat pellet things. Would it work to fully soak them, and then scrunch them tightly together in a milk carton? My hope would be that this would help with water retention, yet still allow them to be separated without disturbing the roots. My second idea is similar, but would use the peat pots that you fill with soil. These could also be soaked until they are softened, and then scrunched together in the WS container. Would they melt together, or would they come out easily at transplant time? Or...could either of these methods be used if they were nestled down into soil, peat moss, etc?
One last thing...as I search for appropriate WS containers, I was wondering if 'Press and Seal' plastic wrap would hold tight enough over the top of a container for WS? Would snow collapse it? Would the wind rip it off?
Marie: this transplanting poppies thing keeps popping up and I'm feeling like a broken record. I had tons of beautiful poppies last year, all transplanted by hos, and I don't think I lost a single one. They were beautiful.
What about the ones you lost last year? Were they WS? How were they sown, in peat pots or peat discs? How big were they when transplanted? Do you know the date?
Mine had been sown in regular old potting mix and planted out hos, early , before the weather got too warm. It was WAY before the last frost date. My record keeping was very poor but I do have a record that I started planting out poppies on March 30. (Our late frost date is somewhere around May 15). They were transplanted with only 1 or 2 sets of true leaves, probably an inch or 2 tall. The taproots are not a problem at that stage because the roots are still small too.
Early transplant helps with weather, too,I think, because poppies don't mind they cold but have trouble with the heat. Early transplant lets them get established before the heat arrives.
I winter sowed my poppies in soil, in milk jugs. I had intended to plant hos but 'things' fell apart. I had pathetic record keeping last year. (I managed to keep track of when they were ws...and it ended there.) From what you've said, I let them get much too big before transplant. Now I know.
Thanks for the info. I hope that my poppies this year grow up to be half as nice as yours.
They will Marie! I promise! They really don't mind the cold, they laugh at freezing weather and grow bigger. They hated the Ohio Valley heat, though. After they bloomed I was trying to let the seed pods mature, but they got so wilted and brown and ugly I couldn't stand it. They were falling over and smashing smaller things, as well as blocking the sun, so I asked my husband to dig them out and just trashed them. This was in June. I transplanted some heat-loving annuals into their places, but most of them really never took off because by then the weather was just hot for transplanting anything.
So I confess, after preaching the gospel on the glory of poppies, that I'm not even planning to sow any this year! I do love them, but I've sort of conquered that challenge and I have so many other things that I want to try, that I don't want to dedicate all that bed space to poppies. Maybe again next year.
Jump on the WS poppy wagon and you'll be glad. Good luck.
Did anybody else notice the poppies' seedlings have the base of the plant above the soil? The 'crown' of the seedling was attached to the soil by a tiny root. I transplanted a bunch okay, but they do seem kind of fragile. I planted them slightly deeper than they were in the tray.
This was last year, btw.
What I did last year is what I'm planning to do this year with anything that seems to be fragile or that doesn't like transplanting. I got the soil just moist enough to hold it all together (pretty much how I kept it anyway), then I cut away my milk jug from the soil and slid the whole thing into the ground after I'd prepared the hole. Sometimes I would break the whole one into three or four parts, but still kept the soil intact and only lost a few seedlings doing that.
I was thinking the same exact thing today, about sowing some poppy seedings in the 3 inch peat pots, then putting the pots in some kind of container to seal up to hold the moisture, probably a large tray, like a kitty litter tray with clear wrap over the top, or something like that.
Marie, nothing that you learn from is a waste of time. Try it, also try scattering seeds wherever you want them to grow. Some may work, others may not. Try as many varieties as you can find so you will know what fits in your unique microclimate. I can grow (perhaps not too well) Argemone platyceras, a Mexican species, here in the NW, but never have any luck with most Meconopsis which seem to do so well in Alaska. Try different stuff till you find what works for you. Trial and error is what its all about. Good luck.
edited to add; there's a cool Poppies forum that might help too.
I tried a few seeds last year in peat pots. They were Bells of Ireland. I stuffed a bunch of them into a gallon milk jug. That was one of the few of my 80 containers that didn't germinate, or, maybe the only container. I did some Bells of Ireland into regular jugs which did great. I'm done with them (peat pots). They dry out to much. I'm sticking to just sprinkling seeds into jugs of potting mix, letting them grow into chia pets, and planting out by hos.
Someone gave me a paper potter for Christmas. A few days ago I made a few and put them into a tray. I sowed them with some rudbeckia, and, if they don't make it I won't care that much. I don't have much hope for them really. I'm only trying it because it was a gift. It was also a pain, time consuming, to make the pots, fill each with soil, sow each one. I could have sown a whole lot of regular old milk jugs in that time! I don't have high hopes for those.
Yes, you might find some experts there. But remember, if they're doing their seed growing inside under lights, you might be comparing apples to oranges. You can't compare those grown inside and nursed along to what we do in wintersowing. THEY are most probably the culprits spreading the rumor that poppies can't be transplanted! You certainly won't find anyone with Trudi's WS experience, for sure.
Please let us know what advice you get. Let me bet: the verdict will be to sow in situ, because poppies can't be transplanted.
Marie, are you following the other threads? There's one now where someone has "paralysis by analysis" and I think she might be contagious, as you seem to be catching her disease! My medical background leads me to constantly diagnosing people.
I did see 'paralysis by analysis'! LOL I may at times be symptomatic, but mostly I'm always trying to think up a better way to do something. Hmmm, is that the same thing? Actually, I hate wasting time on something if it's not going to have the desired results, not do I want. I was very annoyed last year when some seeds did not germinate. However, others germinated beyond my wildest dreams...I am doomed to be a ws addict from now on.
I think you're right on the money with the addiction thing. We know a few won't germinate, or a few might bite the dust to frost or heat or drought or whatever. But seeing the vast majority thrive, and for so little expense and time, we get hooked forever. And we get to play in the dirt in winter.
I'm nearly there, and this is only my 2nd year. I did add a new bed last year. I'm hoping to start expanding some planting areas slowly, piecemeal, when materials start becoming available in spring. Lasagna style, of course.
Karen: Your Poppy pictures are beautiful. I only wished my Poppies looked that pretty.
The problem I had with my Poppies last year is that they pooped out on me because I planted them in full sun and they couldn't take the heat or high humidity we have during the Summer. So, this year I'll try planting some in a shadier spot, one which receives morning sun & afternoon shade. Hopefully, they'll be happier there.
I have a confession to make I love poppies and they don't like me. I have the hardest time with them. The local nursery told me that they are hard to grow in our soil, but I keep trying. I have seen them around here so they must grow for others. I did get a few to grow last year so it is try, try, and try again.
There are the oriental poppies growing in the ditch bank near us, where a house used to stand. Over the years, I have tried to transplant some from that ditch, and they have always died. I know they grow here, but I just haven't been successful in transplanting those. Maybe I'll try some earlier in the season.
Hey, we gotta talk about something besides plastic jugs once in a while. That nice new poppy forum is lonely, I know.
Some poppies are known to rebloom: California poppies, Alpine poppies, and some Oriental cultivars. Most Papaver orientale and P. nudicaule are perennials or at least short-lived perennials and might re-bloom if deadheaded.
My question is, do you put slits into the top part of a milk jug at the time you sow the seeds, as you do putting drainage holes in the bottom part, or do you set out the milk jug with no holes or slits in the top?
kbaumle, I've found out the hard way that transplanting Oriental poppies while their tops are green and apparent doesn't work very well. But, if you dig them up when they have totally died back (August for us) - in their summer-dormant state - they can be moved more dependably.
Thanking you in advance for helping me out with my milk jug question -
bluespiral: Just don't use the screw on cap of the milk jug and that will be enough. I prefer to add a few slits around the "shoulders" when sowing only because it's easier to just enlarge them later as the weather warms, but this is not necessary and I don't think most people do it.
Thanks Karen - I like answers that help me to understand why something works, too.
DH uses exacto-blade knives in his wood carving, just as he used them as a graphic artist before computers revolutionized that industry. They cut these recyclables we're converting for wintersowing purposes very easily.
Claypa, thanks for the heads up on livening up the poppy thread.
Thanks, zenpotter. After this year, I might, too, but this is my first year to actually wintersow and I feel like a mother hen with tiny new chicks. Sometimes the rain around here can give quite a pounding, and some of these seeds I'm sowing are either very small or like dust. If I keep the tops on at the time of sowing, I'm thinking that will help prevent my tiny treasures from sloshing around the containers and down the sides.
But I'm aware that for centuries, people have been sowing primrose seed in "pans" with no top whatsoever. I hope I'm not erring on the side of caution too much. It would be interesting to see what the response would be to one of those polls that Dave conducts asking "which side of caution - in sowing seeds - do you err on?"
Maybe, until the leaves appear, I could water with a solution of 1 Tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide (H202) to 1 Gallon of water for any potential slime or mold problem?
Am using a spray device with a pump that pressurizes the tank so you can get anywhere from a fine mist to a spray to a stream. My wintersown containers were initially soaked with water using this sprayer outdoors around midnight on February 19 in a shoveled clearing of our ice-covered hill (and water - with a tad of H202 from time to time - is the only thing this sprayer is going to spray). Talk about thumbing your nose at Mother Nature :)
It's not too late to put covers on 'em, Zen. I thought I saw somewhere where someone had put their containers into a laundry basked inside of a transparent 30-gal trash bag? It is so much fun to see how creative everyone is in what they come up with for containers.
I've added vents on the shoulders of my containers at the same time I created the drainage holes. It's just easier to do it all at the same time. I didn't have vents last year and some of my containers "cooked" once the temps started to get hot.
Also, I sowed Primrose seeds last season and didn't give them any special treatment. They germinated beautifully and flowered the 1st season. Since Mother Nature doesn't give preferential treatment...neither do I.
Shirley, we are toastier than Zenpotter is in Minnesota, aren't we? Thanks, I'll vent those shoulders tomorrow.
I don't know why I didn't do this wintersowing business sooner. For decades, I've been wanting to grow primroses on the terraces of our shady hillside. So, now there are 8 containers out back wintersowed with different primrose seeds - thanks to Tammy, NARGS (North American Rock Garden Society), a discount from T&M, etc. Some germinating directions said to sow at warm temperatures, but I am trying the wintersowing method with a fraction of everything to see what happens. Thank you also for the encouragement with the primroses - Murphy's Law & I are such close buddies that this has been quite a "leap of faith" with me.
Bluegrass, let's hope Mother Nature isn't through rattling her winter sabers at us - am hoping to wintersow some low growers for sunnier path edges like Aethionoma schistosum , Dianthus allwoodii, Oenothera caespitosa, etc. tomorrow. Have already wintersowed campanulas and sages from NARGS. If you only do it once in your life, I can't recommend joining NARGS for at least one season - and another season to give back some seed.
Happy, now is the very best time to be looking at those slopes and walls and ascertaining where evergreen bones might be best placed.
Some great low evergreens for around here include Sarcoccoca hookeriana, Christmas ferns, a tiny, 2" leaved ophiopogon which is so great filling in around stepping stones, etc. You could really go to town with dwarf rhododendrons, which I would research right now so that you could pounce on a plant of each to propagate by softwood cuttings at the end of May or early June in order to have sweeps through your terraces.
The National Arboretum has different gardens of different kinds that bloom from April (Rhododendron muccronolatum (spelling)? into June (Satsuki) and July. There are some hybridized by Polly Hill that creep low on the ground under 1' and spread for a few feet.
And, then, where ancient Greeks might have built a temple on a hill, think about placing the tall, narrow spires of a fastigiate (spelling?) box like Buxus 'Graham Blandy' or a holly like Ilex 'Sky Pencil' to suggest where the surviving columns might be - these will probably need staking because of the ice/snow we get in our winters - again, buy one plant and propagate from softwood cuttings. But First! look around in PlantFiles to see who might already have some of these plants and might be willing to share some cuttings.
And there is a great bible of rock gardeners that I can't recommend too highly: H. Lincoln Foster's Rock Gardening: A Guide to Growing Alpines and Other Wildflowers in the American Garden - Amazon has a used, paperback reprint from Timber Press starting at $3.54. He also write Cuttings from a Rock Garden: Plant Portraits and Other Essays going for $1.51 and up.
I'm also thrilled with the direction we've gone, I have a very high, terraced bank that faces east and the lake. This is a wretched spot, that only gets morning sun, and very hard to garden on due to access. I have been asked if I need to be a mountain goat to work out there. Somebody tell me that I can make some of these things work. I would love suggestions of Greek temple columns that can handle only a half day of sun, would love to be planted in sand, and don't mind getting living on the dry side. Oh Yeah...every few years the lake floods something awful and the lower level or two might have to survive a few days in standing water.
The snow here is amazing, but not nearly as amazing as the wind. WOWie! I stuck my head out of the door once to make sure that the gas line out-take thingie wasn't blocked, and almost got it blown off. Everything got cancelled here this morning. We knew it was coming, and I made no plans to go out today or tomorrow.
Remember when I mentioned Sweet Woodruff to you? And, you wanted to be able to plant seed instead of plants? I would be happy to supply you with as much fresh seed as you could possibly want. Of course we'll need to wait until it's no longer under a foot or two of snow. It flowers very early in the Spring and then there will be plenty of seed. Every time I'm out in that patch my gloves and clothes end up covered in the sticky little balls. My long-haired cat comes in fully coated as well.
I'm no expert, let alone in any position to advise you about your neck of the woods which is so very different from mine in Maryland. But, researching design, installation, maintenance and plants appropriate to your area seems like the best place to start. The best expert to whom I can think of to direct you is Panayoti Kelaidis, who is the Curator of Plant Collections at the Denver Botanic Gardens. I once saw a picture of those gardens many years ago, and the surrounding mountain peaks were visible from this garden all encased in ice while flowers were blooming at visitors' feet. Lucky you, with that dramatic drop-off of elevation looking over a lake. Seems like the most problematic spots ultimately contain the most magic when the gardener elicits their inner character. So, here's what came up when I googled Mr. Kelaidis: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&sa=X&oi=spell&resnum=0&ct=result&cd=1&q="Panayoti Kelaidis"&spell=1
There are some ideas so universal that they translate to many different situations - hanging individual pecadillos on a universal is what makes each so interesting.
As for Greek columns - I don't know about planting fastigiate woody plants with those winds and ice, but I wonder if there might be a woody plant that could give the sense of a sacred grove? If you can come up with something that takes your hillside out of time...something that looks like it's been there since time began (some call this "naturalizing", you will have done it right. So, don't plant in rows parallel to existing contours, but think in terms of blocks or sweeps or drifts with at least one edge on the diagonal...think in terms of triangles...if you have a ledge 2' wide, don't plant something taller than half that width, like a 6' leggy sunflower that will topple in the most Bill-the-Cat way over the ledge. Find out what's native to your area and/or what plants are just "dying" to be planted on your hillside with its own unique conditions of soil type, pH, exposure (sun/shade), drainage, rainfall (or lack), etc.
Another book I can't recommend too highly is Passionate Gardening by Springer & Proctor - in addition to being very comprehensive, they make the foregoing topics accessible to everyone - great writing & sense of humor.
And meanwhile, while you burrow into books & webpages, there's annuals to grow - like alpine poppies :) and their successors like nasturtiums...and perennials to be sowing now to be growing on in a nursery like sages, low grasses...there are hardy dwarf morning glories like the native Evolvulus nuttallianus (zone 4a) with velvet/fuzzy leaves and bright blue little saucers...why not ask Ron_Convolvulus over at the Morning Glory Forum for more ideas about low growing morning glories you could grow in your situation? I noticed a few days ago in the Seed Trading forum where Luvsgrtdanes was trying to find a home for some NARGS seed he couldn't use like an alpine, dwarf sunflower...
I realize the subject has changed BUT, I am growing 4 kinds of poppies currently. I transplanted 2 kinds in the last 3 days and they are doing great. I grew them in milk jugs and when they were 1" tall, & had 6-8 leaves I transplanted them to large cell trays. I transplanted Pink Peony Poppy and Breadseed poppy. I just teased them out of the hos with a skewer and made sure I didn't break off the taproot. Some of those roots were 3" long, I stuffed them in the hole and covered them well. When I was done I sat them out in the unheated gh. They have not wilted or anything, I was surprised.
Last year I heard how hard they were to transplant so I direct sowed them in the spring. Out of about 30 seeds sown of 3 varieties, I got 2 seedlings each. WS is a much better way already. I have 75 seedlings of one variety and 150 of another variety.
Back to the original post LOL! I am using the press and seal on several of my WS containers-will let you know how it holds up w/our snow and ice here.
Also , "The Natural Garden" by Ken Druse, has lots of beautiful pics, and info on different sites and natural landscaping. I think you would see some things that would complement the style you are looking for, and enjoy his attitude about natural areas. The book is pricey, but I found it on Amazon, used-library copy for 4.99 + 3.99 shipping. I've found many, many wonderful garden resource books there.
My first WS is a success story! Among other things I have 2 kinds of Oriental poppies, Patty's Plum and Victoria Louise, beautifully sprouted.
I had to start late, the house was closed for the winter until April 1. But it was still quite cold with lots of snow stll on the ground, and it actually snowed that day as well. I used plastic boxes with holes top and bottom, taped remay over the holes to prevent slugs or other visitors, sowed in 4" pots, left on a bench in part sun. I'm so thrilled and excited- Can't believe it- I feel like I got something for nothing. Another WS addict is born!
So here's my question: Since I used such small pots, I don't want to plant hos. My babies are just sprouts, no true leaves yet. My frost date is June 1. Can I separate the sprouts into --what? I have never had much luck with peat pots, maybe small paper cups? Those tear away easily later, had good luck with sweet peas...suggestions anyone?
>> Since I used such small pots, I don't want to plant hos. My babies are just sprouts, no true leaves yet. My frost date is June 1. Can I separate the sprouts into --what? I have never had much luck with peat pots, maybe small paper cups?
I like the plastic cells they call "insert trays" . The ones that come 72-per-tray, pre-cut into "6-packs" are fairly deep for their size, and since they have sloped sides, plants pop oit really easily once they are rootbound. And they don't tip over, like paper cups!
I find I can re-use them indefinitly, unless I leave them out in the summer sun.
But I can never decide whther it is better to transplant things when they have just one tiny root that comes cleanly out of the soil, or when it is somewhat rootbound, and the roots hold the root ball together without damage.
Corey-You WS in 6-packs? I use them all the time inside, but thought they'd dry out too fast outside, especially once they get growing. Also, inside I find them too small for cluster-sowing, usually only do a few seeds at most in each cell. Inside, I separate clustered seedlings very early so the roots aren't long enough to get tangled. It's tricky, but I usually get enough plants to make it worth it.
But poppies I thoughtdid on't like being handled that much, so need tear-away type containers? Not sure the best way to pot up.
I had sown mine in salad containers (10x10x2) and then just hos'd them into 6 paks, nipping extras with scissors as they grew bigger. I am still leaving some 5 or 6 in each cell to let nature do the culling when they go outside.
>> Corey-You WS in 6-packs? I use them all the time inside, ...
No, I mostly WS in 3.5" pots inside transulcent tubs with slitted plastic film over the top. One variety per 3.5" pot, maybe 9-15 seeds each.
This was my first year, and I had almost no germination, but a few Penstemon varieties popped up a few days ago. I'll make some chnages next year.
I do use the "72-cells-per-tray" six packs for starting some things inside, but I also use some propagation trays with 128 cells per tray for slow-starting things like Salvia or petunias.
>> but thought they'd dry out too fast outside, especially once they get growing.
In the PNW along the coast, NOTHING dries out, until June or July when the constant rain goes away.
>> Also, inside I find them too small for cluster-sowing, usually only do a few seeds at most in each cell.
I agree, but I don't like to cluster-sow, since I don't like either thinning or over-crowding. And yet I've had to cluster-crowd some seeds this year, because I got interested in Lobelia, and everyone says to sow them in dense clusters. So each 6-pack is one type of Lobelia, sprinkled fairly heavily, and they ALL seem to have sprouted. When I break them up, each cell will be potted up into its own medium pot, or 2-3 cells per big pot. (I plan to grow some in contaioners and some trailing down the walls of rasied beds).
Many of those 6-packs were piled high with seedling mix, in an attempt to get more depth. In those, you can't see the dividers between cells, just one hump over all 6 cells. I expect some seedlings that are "straddling the fence" in the 6-packs will fall away, and I may save and mix those when I break up 6-packs.
On the other hand, I just plain sowed too many seeds of Columbines and snapdragons in other 6-packs (indoors). I hope to divide them up SOME when I pot up or transplant out, but it depends on how crowded they are.
I know that many WS fans plant big chunks of crowded seedlings and "let the strong ones survive". I'd rather the strong ones spent their energy on growing faster!
How fast do your snaps germinate and grow. Mine seem dreadfully slowwwww. I have tried both the hos and individual methods. Jury is still out on which is less bothersome, costly, and economical on space. Depends on germination. If all my 6-paks germinate, I am gold. If I have some dead cells, well, I only have so much horizontal space. Talking indoors in my garage under shop lights.
Me neither. And I haven't planted any of the seeds you mentioned. Marigolds, Godetia, portulaca, Livingstone daisys, carrots, beans, sweet peas (both outside and inside to see the difference). btw, the sweet peas sown outside in the cold frame look sturdier than the ones inside. But it sounds like snaps are just one of the slower ones. And more delicate for a while.
I thought I was doing something wrong, my snaps were so slow, and so puny for the longest time. First I did individual cells, then clustered in 3" pots to augment when I saw all the wasted space. I started them 2/4, added 2 weeks later, now have 72 blooming plants, in all three sizes. Next year I'll wait until 3/1.
For the poppies, I guess my best bet is to separate them hos into 6-packs, and let them fight it out until it becomes more obvious who stays and who goes?
I don't know, but if I were you, I would look for advice from people who SUCCEED at WS, not me!
What I did with petunias last year when i sowed WAY too many per cell, was to use tiny scissors and cut down as many of the short or straggly ones as I could bear to. Some more died or wimped out when I potted up. The slugs got some of the rest.
Pretty soon I'll be teasing out the few Penstemon that emerged from my WS tubs. It looks like, at most, 2-4 sprouts per 3.5" pot. I don't think "2" can constitute a hunk!
I wish they made 6-packs or plug trays deeper than 2.5 to 3 inches!
I am also a heavy pruner. Have used a chainsaw on a radically overgrown Siberian Pea bush, and my Chinese meat cleaver to 'prune' a big choke cherry tree. Had to climb up into the branches to reach. DH finally took the cleaver away when I was cutting down a hedge I wanted to get rid of and I hit the base of my thumb. That cleaver was walking through half inch branches. Had the blade not swung reversed so I hit my thumb with the back side of the blade, I would have been minus a thumb. I was tired and loosened my grip on the handle so it flipped with the force of the down swing. Thank Heavens. I just Preened my front beds to try to steal a march on the weeds. If it stops raining I will do the other beds. Boy do I hate chickweed.
Anyone afflicted with horsetails. They set up housekeeping in my beds last summer and they are spreading madly. Awful!!!
I've been grumbling for weeks that none of my WS Penstemon did anything, and moved them from the shady porch to the deck where sun hits them part of the day. (It still gets cool at night: down to 4o until just recently.)
Those tubs have been condensing on the inside for weeks, since I put them in the sun, despite vents in the filkm on top. I grumbled more, "yeah, now I'm probably steaming them."
I checked again earlier today. My eyes may be playing tricks, or those teeny, teeny, teeny TINY things might be single-celled algae.
But I THINK I have quite a few VERY SMALL Penstemon sprouts! They seemed smaller than pinheads: more like pinpoints.
I think I'll cut the vents wider, even though that will let in more rain. But my belief is that seedlings don't like 100% humidity, even if they are tiny.
I guess Penstemon are just really slow and really small ... and I guess they need warmth to germinate, after months of moist cold to break dormancy.
My eyes really popped open when I saw that sprinkling of microscopic green dots!
Here were my WS tubs when I started. Since then, a few sprouted but disappeared when I took their pots out of the tubs (slugs? cold? sproutnappers?) A few others are still huddled against the vemriculite, too small to see easily. The "teeny tiny Penstemon" are FAR too small to photograph. So this "before" WS shot looks much the same as my "after" WS ... so far.
(Meanwhile the indoor trays are doing well. As usual, once I start potting up, I have no room under lights for the overflow.)
Your snaps are way ahead of mine. Didn't WS them. Have moved all my poppies indoors out of fear of losing them. Accidentally dumped one tray so I HOS'd them into pots to try to save them. Even getting one plant will make it worthwhile. They have such big seed pods. It is 9am and 46 degrees in the shade. I don't know if I should start putting the plants outdoors to hardy them up. what a chore. And if I don't watch them like a hawk, they die so fast when exposed to outdoors. What to do, what to do???
Sympathy! Put them out to freeze or be devoured by slugs, or let them languish indoors under not-enough-light?
I'm puzzled by why the orange California poppies have sprouted well (sown outdoors while night temps still went under 40) while NONE of the red ones (Mikado) sprouted. Its just a theory that the fast-draining soil under the red ones may have dried out while I wasn't watching.
And "peony poppies" didn't sprout at all either, in the fast-draining bed.
I was delighted to find that my one indoor 6-pack of Violas (V. tricolor, 'Johnny Jump-Up') finally sprouted. I had given up and moved it to the back of a tray, out of the best light. Next time I looked back there, they were up, with a high germination rate, and pretty vigorous. So I've potted them up.
However, "high germination" means several to many plants per cell, and only 3 of the 6 cells were easy to divide. So I have 9 pots or Dixie cups with multiple pansies each.
I wonder what temperatures they like when planting out? I do want to grow them up a little bigger, so they will survive the first bite a slug takes out of them.
Plant Files says this about V. tricolor:
"From seed; stratify if sowing indoors"
I didn't, and they came up nicely. These were seeds received in trade.
I begin to think that much of what we read or even here here at DG is along the lines of suggestions. Some is fairly ironclad, don't plant peonies in waterlogged soil, sort of stuff. but the other? Stratify, don't cover with soil, etc. eh? I usually try what is suggested and then if that doesn't get it, try something else. You are obviously very successful in much of what you are doing, so you would be the one to emulate in my book. I spread seed of peony poppies, california poppies of a wide variety, Lauren's Grape poppies, etc and they all seem to come up just fine. My ground is fairly wet on top except for two small hillocks that look like the Gobi desert on top, but when I sink a hydrometer to test for moisture they are plenty moist. but seeds that lie on top don't get the benefit of that deeper moisture so I water. My landscaper believed that you only need 6-8 inches of dirt on any substrate to grow stuff. I found that out the hard way when I went to plant stuff like peonies (24" hole) and hit the rock, some of it 3+ inches in diameter, down about a foot, til I hit clay then sand. I was sooooooo angry. I have been digging up, sifting out rock and replacing with good soil for four years. This year I was going to have my pond edging fixed, add a garden, and build up the back of one of the little hillocks to get more horizontal surface and I stupidly called him because we have become friends (NEVER do business with a friend) and he started that same old 'you only need a few inches of dirt thing.' I called another, more expensive contractor, and will go with them. It will cost an arm and a leg but at least I will stand a chance of getting what I want.
I put my flats, pots, etc outdoors for a little cool morning sun and will haul in in about an hour. I can't plant them outside til May 30. But better the hauling and hardening up than losing them after all this work because they cannot adapt to outdoor sun, wind, and different humidity.
>> along the lines of suggestions. ... I usually try what is suggested and then if that doesn't get it, try something else.
That's my practice, also. I always wnat to UNDERSTAND what the reasons are, so I can apply the sugegstions to my own circurcumstances prudently. I suppose I have "analysis paralysis" because I don't like doing things I don't understand, even if people in other climates with other goals and different soil say "it works". Sometimes I think I care more about the understanding than the results!
>> You are obviously very successful in much of what you are doing, so you would be the one to emulate in my book.
Warning, warning! That's misleading ... more like, "very recently, I have been killing fewer seeds than I used to". I have done some trail and error, but I guess I haven't been stressing the 'error" part as much as I should!
>> I spread seed of peony poppies, california poppies of a wide variety, Lauren's Grape poppies, etc and they all seem to come up just fine. My ground is fairly wet on top
I guess that's why yours sprout well and most of mine didn't. And yet, I think I recall that poppoes like it dry and well-draining ... maybe that's only "after they are established".
>> My landscaper believed that you only need 6-8 inches of dirt on any substrate to grow stuff.
I know SOME things will grow in 8" of soil, but I bet other things need a lot more depth. Too bad your sand is UNDER your clay ... if it were over, silt, clay, organics and worms would rapidly spread the wealth down into the sand and turn it to soil.
Maybe this landscaper is taking a VERY long view. If you have 2-4" of soil, you can grow cover crops and their roots and cuttings will gradually deepen the root zone and enrich it ... over multiple years.
In my "good bed", I went crazy for two years creating drainage and good soil down 18-24", buying compost and topsoil. Elsewhere, I'm tryiong to get roots and worms to help me while I find a source of cheap compost or compostable stuff.
Since I have so little soil and so much clay, I try to get 8-10" of something somehwat soil-like in a raised bed the first year, and then try to improve its quality and depth over several years.
(As you probably know ...)
I fiugure that roots and nutirients and organics leach down from the good soil into the clay, and gradually improve the clay (with help from worms, frost heaves, and wet-dry-cycle heaves).
When wet soil or clay freezes, the ice expands and opens up tiny voids or pores.
When clay gets wet it expands, and shrinks as it dries. Assuming it doesn't get compacted into concrete, it should open up some voids and let roots in, or mix itself with surrounding compost or sand as it churns.
>> I have been digging up, sifting out rock and replacing with good soil for four years.
Me, too! Mostly, lately, I have been making poor soil more than buying good soil. I love that part of it: making soil. Doing the work of centuries of glaciers, sedimentaion, roots, worms and frost, all in a year or five. I probably enjoy cultivating the soil more than cultivating plants, but the plants make a good excuse.
I admire your gradual hardening off. I agree it is crucial. Even if they aren't killed by wind burn, sun burn, dehydration, chill or bugs, their growth can be halted or stunted by rapid changes. I have to do that before or after work, and on weekends.
I hear you on all counts. You are a true weekend-warrior/gardener. I also did that for years and no where near as successfully as you. I just sort of hit it the best I could. I was one of those 11-14 hour a day people, with 7 days work weeks a lot. It was not unheard of to go four weeks with no day off. Now, I have lots of bad habits to break like being slip-shod in following methodologies, researching and REMEMBERING the right fertilizers. I used to design/build things - databases, spreadsheets, processes. But I don't like to follow the daily grind process once it is developed. Boring... I agree also that sometimes the process and rationale is much more interesting than the end result. lol. Story of my life. Someone at Schreiners Nursery in Oregon talked about putting stuff on top of the soil to enrich and loosen it up. I said how could I get it into the soil as I had stuff planted and couldn't cultivate. He said it would gradually work its way into the soil break it up and loosen it. Darned if I can remember what it was. If you are interested I can check my emails for that nursery and find what it was. it might help in breaking up your clay.
I look forward to seeing pictures of all your flowers and your garden as the summer progresses.
>> Now, I have lots of bad habits to break like being slip-shod in following methodologies,
I don't know about that ... sometimes "bad habits" can be effective. And your practice is how new methodogogies are invented! But true, usually when I break some gardening "rule", usually through being so busy that I do somehting later than it should have been done, the results are disapointing. Conventional wisdom is often right.
I used to be much more perfectionist at work, and always striving for doing things :"the best way". Then we had a project where we had to accomplish 5 years of work in three years, and I learned to "get 'er done" adequately, but as fast as possible.
So now, in the garden, I try to do things "well enough", but fast. That means I got more done each year. Maybe when every spot with any sun has a raised bed, and the soil is all pretty good, I'll go back to my preferred fussy ways ... but that might be decades from now!
>> I said how could I get it into the soil as I had stuff planted and couldn't cultivate. He said it would gradually work its way into the soil break it up and loosen it.
I struggled with for years - it didn't make sense to me. But now I more or less believe that worms and other soil life do burrow and mix things. I've seen worms drilling holes through FAIRLY hard clay, and they seem to relish the border between compost and clay. And forst heaves things around, as deep as the soil freezes. It brings up rocks, so it must mix the soil! And clay does expand and contract as it dries and gets wet. And roots penetrate, then leave an empty channel behind that can fill with fine particles. And of course, as organics break down into colloidal particles and soluble chemicals, they can leach down or "elluviate" into the lower layers.
I would dismiss it all as "too slow", except that many "no-till" people rely on it completly, and seem to get good results. "Lasagna Method" people seem to grow in pure compost, until it creates soil through mixing with whatever is underneath. If it works, there must be SOME mechanism!
So now I till deeply in hard clay, until the soil looks half-decent, then focus on other beds while planning to top-dress with as much compost as I can afford. Eventually I'll go back and do another round of deep turning, which is one way to know how much you need the turning.
>> But I don't like to follow the daily grind process once it is developed. Boring...
I'm half-similar and half-different. I hate most things that just need to be done again and again - vacuuming, making the bed, mowing lawn. But SOME things become enjoyable rituals, like watering or screening soil.
I agree with pretty much all you said. I too have lifted heavy felt landscape cloth that had been covered with 1" rock for a few years and walked on to compress even further, and there were earthworms busily boring around on top and deep under. And the soil was pretty much clay mud. I tilled it, added manure and sphagnum and regular soil and it made a great bed. I was just working on my gardening diary (spreadsheet) and pond diary to try to get a history so I can do a better gardening plan next year; stuff that I should do in the fall, notes on what NOT to do in my second attempt on WS, a better schematic on what is planted where so I don't tromp someone's tender little sprout in the ground on my way to examine something else. The daily ritual of watering, screening, propping up, trimming off... those things I don't consider boring -- ever. They are rejuvenating for both the garden and me. I just want to do it better each year and that seems to require copious notes, dates, temps, etc. Then I have a reference for all winter to look back on to form a better plan. Oh, well. Have taken this poor thread very far away from its home. Hopefully haven't driven people away.
As if they even MAKE enough paper and ink for me to record all my discoveries in THAT arena!
>> The daily ritual of watering, screening, propping up, trimming off... those things I don't consider boring -- ever. They are rejuvenating for both the garden and me.
>> I just want to do it better each year and that seems to require copious notes, dates, temps, etc.
Normally, for example at work, I do go very far in that direction of detailed notes and voluminious documetnation. Developing aviation software requires that! . However, for some reason, in the garden, I turn into an intuitive libertine with spontaneous whims of iron. It's a whole different side of my personality!
I still see the huge value of recording what i did (especially sowing dates and how-many-weeks-under-lights), to know what to do next year, or know whether I'm improving or deluding myself. But I can't motivate myself to do much more than record what is sowed where (and when).
The extra California Poppy "Mikado" seeds I scattered a week or two ago have still not sprouted. I hope they don't need startification, because nights have only gone down to 45-48 lately.
My WS Penstemon sprouts have gone from very fine pin-points of green to fine green pin-points. I'm leaving them in the humid tubs for now! This morning I picked several slugs off the plastic film on top - oddly, they did not fiogure out how to squeeze through the slits.
My heavens! You already have slugs. Yuk. I am sure ours are frozen below ground yet. I doubt I could get a shovel more than 6" before hitting frost. I don't know if my Penstemons survived yet, but have moved them to a place that hopefully is more hospitable. The last of my (paltry) wintersown poppies, sweet peas, and godetia are in pots in the garage, joining the other guys in their daily trek to the deck and back. Hopefully only have to do this for a week or so and then they are on their own. Survival of the fittest.
>> You already have slugs. Yuk. I am sure ours are frozen below ground yet.
We had an early thaw ages ago, like in February, and they exploded. I put out a lot of beer saucers and caught hundreds. Then the cold returend, and I had frozen slugcicles!
Now that it has warmed up "for real" (not just "above 32", but above 40 at night) the slugs are coming back. So I dusted some iron suphate slug bait INSIDE my WS tubs and around one one surviving Delphinium, which for the first time looks more like a plant than a machine-gun-target.
Time for more beer!
Now that I think about it, that's a good motto any time.
I often wonder how slugs get their chewing parts into the middle of a leaf, so as to leave HOLES, not notches.
I used to think "How could give those rotten, crummy slugs BEER?!?" I solved that by buying the cheapest, worst 'malt beverage' I could find. I'm not even tempted to drink it myself as long as I have sturdy IPAs and ales in stock. (But I might try sugar-water and yeast this summer.)
Colorado State University Entomology professor Whitney Cranshaw had his students do a comparative study to determine which variety of beer their slugs liked best. The cheapest malt-beverage-beer-substitute seemed to be their favorite: Kingsbury Malt Beverage. They preferred it 19:1 over tap water!
thanks for the url. I have printed it. Should provide some entertainment value trying different deterrents. I see they didn't try any dark beer or stuff like Pete's Wicket Red or McTarnahans. I think I got that Kinsbury stuff once. Gross... but figured the slugs deserved it. I think I like the idea of laying boards around the area. And may try copper collars on my dahlias.
"In the Pacific Northwest they have banana slugs which are bright yellow, grow to 8 inches with some up to 18 inches."
Have you seen any of these awful sounding creatures. that is really purely gross...
uh, nope... the sky is clear but with a stiff wind and 40F, it nips a little. but overall, I think it is better than last year. Stuff is growing and no signs of slugs yet. I have time to prepare my defenses.