"One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it brings."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What was I thinking when I bought all of these seeds?

Look at all those seeds.  Believe me there will more to come too since the nursery was out of several things I wanted.  I've been slowly accumulating them over the last month.  Yesterday I went back for more, and even bought seed starting soil.
Do I have a greenhouse?  Do I have grow lights?  Do I have a large sunny windowsill without any draft?  No, I don't have any of those things.  But, for some reason every winter I'm tempted by all those beautiful seed packets.  I usually buy 2 or 3 at a time.  Frequently I have my daughters with me and they also hand more to me.  Some of the packets have such pretty pictures on them.  My favorite art is on the Botanical Interests ones.
The directions on the back always sound so simple:  "seed directly outside after all danger of frost has passed" or "lightly press into soil."   How could I go wrong with those simple directions?  Last year my attempt at Bells of Ireland resulted in about three 6" tall plants.  Although they did get flowers on them, it was not quite what I was hoping for.
I have my tried and true easy favorites that I always have success with, well 90 percent success:
Sunflowers, sweet peas, zinnias, cosmos, alyssum and poppies the one time I planted them.  
I've had minor success with lupines, hollyhocks and columbines.  They have now reseeded themselves, so that made things easier.
I think in the winter I get so anxious to plant something that I go look at the seed racks inside the warm nursery.  I just can't help myself.  With all of these seeds on my desk I remembered something I read about last year.  So, I went searching on the internet and discovered something called winter sowing.  All of the growing takes place outside, during the winter.  From what I've read it's quite addicting.  I'm going today to gather the rest of my supplies and will see what happens. I will try my best to hold off on more seeds.   

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  1. Oh my! You will be busy. Do you have someone who you could share some seeds with close by? This might be a way to deal with them, or even a seed swap. I used to grow a bunch of seeds, now I do mainly cuttings. Here is what I did, I bought two 4 foot 'shop lights' (about $10 a piece) and mounted them either to the ceiling or now to a metal shelf. The seedlings grow perfectly underneath them. I even have geranium cuttings blooming. The key to non grow lights is to get them at least four feet long due to the wavelengths of the light. Not sure the techy stuff but this might be an alternative. I find I can grow four standard sized flats under two lights with no problem. A timer turns the lights on and off during the day only. Good luck should you choose to start them all. I also have the problem, the directions make it sound too easy-and it never works that way.

  2. Ah Catherine, you have the same disease I have. It spreads rapidly this time of year- No worries just go with the flow and then after you've had those seed packets for a while, not using them all, just through them in an experiment bed and see what pops up! And who knows, maybe this is the year to start a propagating area in your home- I have a beautiful picture of one that your hubby could put together in a snap, if you want me to send it to you :) Use regular fluorescent lights- one cool, one warm and you're good to go! Email me and I'll send you that pic. I plan on putting it on my box.net account with the seed starting logs, for anyone to use soon too.

  3. Catherine ~ You ordered all of those because of that beautiful garden you had last year that is posted at the top of your blog. I have seeds from a huge seed swap the end of 2007 and I think I'm just going to mix a lot of them up and scatter them in my gardens and water. Some folks have great success with that and I've done that with some seeds myself. I think a mixture garden would definitely be a surprise and jumble of happiness. I really need to do that soon before it gets too hot for things to grow and bloom down here.

    Give winter sowing a chance. A lot of people have great success with that and you probably will too.

    Have fun and think of all the wonderful blooms you will have come spring.


  4. Those are gorgeous seed packets! It's so easy to get caught up in the excitement of planting and gardening, especially in this kind of weather when pretty much all we can do outside is get wet and cold.
    If you're interested in columbine and lupine seeds, I collected a bunch from my garden last year and can bring them to the SAGBUTT meeting. I also have a couple types of poppy seeds I can share. Now I just have to remember to get them together to bring with me that day. :)

  5. I think this is a nice illness to have, Catherine-considering how many other horrible illnesses are out there;)

  6. You aren't insane I promise. You are one of us. We understand. I too love the Botanical Interest Seeds packets. I always hope all my seeds will sprout. I might be in trouble if they did.

  7. Tina - that sounds like a great idea, I will look into the lights. I think I will be giving some to my sister and my Mom.

    Tessa - I would like to see that. I actually thought of the perfect place, his work bench :) I'll send you an email.

    Flower Lady - I do like the idea of mixing seeds and scattering. Most of these are cottage type flowers anyway and would look pretty together. I think tomorrow I will post about how I'm going to winter sow. I found some great websites.

    Aerie-el - they are practically art to me! I don't think I'll make SAGBUTT (love the name) my daughter has a game at the same time.
    Karen mentioned possibly having a seed exchange and I would love that. Maybe we could trade then?

    Jan- I agree. It's not really too painless on the wallet either. :)

  8. Anna - Your comment just appeared, sorry I missed you. That is another problem, where will they all go? Luckily my Mom and sister live close by! Glad to hear I'm not the only one with this "issue".

  9. I agree with Jan. There are much more serious addictions. (This is what I tell myself--a fellow addict.) I've pondered the why for several years. I think it's simply that I'm so flower and foliage starved. I love the seed packets too. In fact I'm feeling a pull towards the garden store right now. Grace

  10. I think it's great. I don't have all those wonderful growing conditions either. I just plunk them in egg cartons or baby food jars and they take off. I'd like to take credit but I think the PNW is particularly kind to my gardening bents. I also mostly do veggies from seed. I haven't even looked at this year's offerings but I can feel it coming on! Enjoy all that reproduction.

  11. Grace - you're right, we do get starved for flowers and foliage. Those seeds offer a promise of both.

    Gardeness - you must be good! I only tried starting some seeds indoor last year and just didn't have much luck. I've had luck with peas, beans and lettuce from seed, that's it for vegetables.

  12. OMG! So many! I'm sure you're gonna have a busy season. I envy you for having so many different choices. How boring it'd be if you're stuck to only one of a kind :(! Though we do get certain strange plants in nurseries, but I desperately want to grow them from seeds! Like Larkspur! I'll have my fingers crossed for the shops to sell 'em.

  13. Himself has banned me from going near the garden centres for a while after my recent splurge on nice seed packets that "might come in useful"!
    I scattered several packets of wildflower seeds over a newly turned bit of soil up at the top of the garden where we'd dug up a tree stump last year and promptly forgot about it until I got a beautiful display of flowers later on. What a joy!

  14. Chandramouli - I hope you can find your larkspur. I will be keeping busy, always adding one more thing to my to do list.

    Nutty Gnome - Your wildflower surprise sounds pretty! My husband isn't always aware of the growing pile until he sees the top of the desk, I just slowly accumulate them.

  15. Hi Catherine,
    I have the same problem of getting carried away, It's not hard to do, It does not get better either. I have two large file boxes, full of seeds. One for veggie seeds and one for flower seeds. I also add my own favorite seeds every year. with a description on each envelope.
    The garden suprise is a nice idea.
    Do you have a Big Lots store in your area? They have cheap tiny greenhouses for around $20 that really help with the seeds growing. I have added a 2 foot flourescent light fixture with a grow light bulb tied to the top of mine. I love it. It has shelves that hold several trays of seedlings. Of course I always have more than I need growing as well as more than I need not even started yet. I don't call it crazy, I call it prepared.
    Vicki Danford

  16. Beautiful pics! I don't know where you're located, but here in Colorado Springs, sowing "after all danger of frost" means I might not get any flowers (our average last frost date here is May 15th, and first frost is some time in September). So, I too tried winter sowing - as far as germination is concerned, as long as I keep the containers moist (we have VERY dry winters), things go very well!! But, I haven't seemed to get the hang of transplanting yet, since all those lovely little seedlings usually die within a week of me getting them in there "permanent" positions. This year I'm just trying direct-sowing in winter. After all, that's basically how nature does it *shrug*


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