Thursday, February 18, 2016

before the seed...


Before the seed there comes the thought of bloom.  E.B. White

I thought this quote sums up planting from seed, especially flowers.  This past weekend I started some of my seeds.  As you may know from prior years, I plant hundreds of white impatiens and over the last couple of years have added wave petunias and bacopa (or bicopa) to my repertoire.  This year for the first time I'm also planting calibrachoa from seed! A plant very similar to a petunia, in fact some hybrid varieties are crossed with petunias.  So excited to try this one this year... you may know this plant as Million Bells and just about every hanging basket seems to have some of this easy to care for annual.  The larger white blooms and some of the darker pink flowers in the above photo are calibrachoa.

Last year in early spring I found out that you could finally purchase calibrachoa seeds but I had already purchased my plant starts for my hanging baskets and window boxes plus they take a long time to grow and germinate (like petunias and impatiens) and it was much too late to start any... however I KNEW I'd be trying some this year.  The petunias I grow come as pelleted seeds, they are coated with a yellow substance, and I found that you could purchase calibrachoa the same way so my search was on the for the best deal in with a variety of colors.  I quickly found that the "kaboom" variety was the one that could be found and it comes in dark blue (purple), dark pink, white and yellow with a few seed companies offering one or two other colors.  The seed company that I selected was Harris Seed, they offered the best price on pelleted seeds and had all four of these colors.  I saved even more on the white seeds as I could purchase 100 of them.

My other seeds; bacopa, wave petunia and white impatiens came from Park Seed.  I have been purchasing my white impatiens seeds from Park Seed for 7 or 8 years now and they are top quality seeds with a high germination rate.


Knowing I would be starting around 700 - 800 seeds in my front porch I changed my set up a bit this year.  We've recently acquired a number of plastic, sturdy folding banquet tables and 3 of them are smaller in size.  Two fit perfectly in my front porch, much better than the "missmash" of wooden tv trays, metal bench and the floor!  I use my front porch as it is cooler than my house but has southern exposure.  It has worked well in years past and I don't forget to check my little babies for watering.

For these seeds that have a long germination and grow time I like to use Jiffy pellets to start these seeds.  I tried paper pots (made from newspaper) but the 2 plus months is too long for the newspaper to hold up.  This year instead of buying pellets from the local farm store or Home Depot/Lowes I bought these via Amazon.  A substantially lower price and as I bought 1000 I'll have a few to save for next year.

These pellets are easy to use, warm water to plump them up and I place 96 (16 rows of 6) in a doubled up tray.  These trays are inexpensive (under $1.50 each) and I use them year after year.  I place a trash bag between the trays for watering as the trays have holes.  If you were using these in an outdoor setting where water didn't matter you could leave them single and unlined.  I break up the tops a bit with a wooden skewer.

Then it's time to plant seeds!  This is actually 100 white calibrachoa seeds!  Doesn't look like 100, does it?  I like to use this small white bowl for viability and I use tweezers to pick each seed up and place it on TOP of the seed starting pellet.  Impatiens, petunias, bacopa and calibrachoa seeds do not need to be covered.... in fact impatiens actually need light to germinate.

I planted 100 white, 50 dark blue, 50 yellow and 25 calibrachoa seeds, 30 white bacopa seeds, 20 silver (lavender) wave petunias and 10 coconut (white) wave petunias this past Sunday.  Next weekend will be approximated 500 white impatiens seeds and I use the same method.  Those seeds are not pelleted but I quite small, similar to a carrot seed.

As you can see from last summer, these white impatiens are just a small sampling of my white impatiens.  I use all white as it show so well in the shady spots and in the evenings.  Using all white is why I started planting my own as it was hard (and expensive) to find all white ones at my local nursery and garden centers.

All my hanging baskets have calibrachoa in them... these are the two on the side of my garage that I can see from my kitchen window.  They are filled with pink every year.

Of course I also plant other flowers but those are usually direct seeded into the garden like these bachelor buttons.

Or sunflowers that I start a bit later in the greenhouse and transplant into my vegetable garden for cutting and garden beds for pure enjoyment.

And I can't forget my first flower planted from seed... the zinnia!  I still plant hundreds of these, like the sunflowers in the greenhouse, and add them to my vegetable garden like these for cutting and some lower growing and spreading varieties in my flower beds.

So how about you?  Ready for spring?  Gardening?  Perhaps a bit of seed starting?



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7 comments:

  1. Wow! You have it down to a system and the results are beautiful. Everything is so lush!

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  2. I really admire you starting your plants from seed. We winter over a LOT of geraniums and begonias downstairs on the landing to the little tiny basement. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  3. Oh my gosh! The white inpatients are so pretty, and I love how you planted those gorgeous big hanging baskets. This year, I am planting zinnias, sunflowers, poppies and nasturtiums and snapdragons from seed. The snaps do famously in my yard, and I thought I'd better try doing them from seed myself. . .

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  4. Yes, I am ready for spring and planting. And, I am going to follow your lead and plant seeds. My garden house has side walls of glass and glass on the front door so I think I need to start some seeds this week.

    Thanks for the inspiration and for sharing at SYC.

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  5. Yes, I am ready for spring and planting. And, I am going to follow your lead and plant seeds. My garden house has side walls of glass and glass on the front door so I think I need to start some seeds this week.

    Thanks for the inspiration and for sharing at SYC.

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  6. Oh wow Chris, you totally have me dreaming of getting back to the gardens. I haven't tried starting my own seeds in a while. I love adding Million Bells to my pots and planters. And why do I not plant Bachelor Buttons? They are so darn cute! Thanks so much for the inspiration. Featured you at Be Inspired this morning.

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  7. Hi, Really great effort. Everyone must read this article. Thanks for sharing.
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Please, feel free to leave a comment... it really makes my day! Chris