Twid­dling green thumbs


With win­ter storms out­side the win­dow, a gar­dener is start­ing to t h i n k a b o u t g re e n shoots, col­or­ful fo­liage and tasty fruits this time of year. The mid­dle of Fe­bru­ary is of­ten the time most gar­den­ers be­gin to get the itch to put hands to soil and for some of us it won’t be much longer.

Many gar­den­ers, both ama­teur and sea­soned, catch their eyes on seed dis­plays this time of year found in most any hard­ware store, gar­den cen­ter or Wal-Mart. Dis­play­ing col­or­ful pic­tures of what might be in our gar­den this spring, seed packs are so tempt­ing to our idle hands. Of­ten times the pull is too great for me and many oth­ers to sim­ply walk by these “siren like” dis­plays-they call to us, buy, buy, buy. So, I buy!

What seeds to buy from these dis­plays is ul­ti­mately de­ter­mined by where they are go­ing to be planted and by whom? The fact is, some seeds are much more dif­fi­cult to grow while oth­ers are al­most as sim­ply as plant, wa­ter and for­get.

This year I am look­ing on­line to seed/bulb sites such as Ve­sey’s for many of my core seed re­quire­ments. For many of these sites, qual­ity is high and ship­ment is easy. Ve­sey’s for ex­am­ple, has de­tailed de­scrip­tions of each species avail­able and the va­ri­eties within each species are illustrated.

Be­fore you rush to the com­puter and start to add to your on­line cart, make sure you have taken ac­count of where you want to plant when sum­mer ac­tu­ally comes. Are you look­ing for shade plants, rock gar­den spec­i­mens, tall and col­or­ful or low and fo­liage based?

The fact is, seeds are not cheap, at least not the good ones. Many gar­den­ers save lit­tle money by grow­ing their own un­less you’re grow­ing hun­dreds like some of my friends and I who end up giv­ing away trays of an­nu­als each sum­mer. Grow­ing your own bed­ding plants can be fun and re­lax­ing for most gar­den­ers, as long as you have the room to start them in­doors months be­fore the frost is gone for good.

For the av­er­age seed se­lec­tion you would re­quire seed cell/ trays, good pot­ting soil with ver­mi­culite mixed through, light liq­uid fer­til­izer such as 5-5-5 or 20-20-20 if it is wa­tered down, and a bright lo­ca­tion with cooler night­time con­di­tions (if pos­si­ble).

Here is a list of some of the more ba­sic bed­ding plants that can be eas­ily grown from seed by start­ing them in­doors.

For shade, Im­pa­tients would be a good se­lec­tion.

For sunny lo­ca­tions where height is not an is­sue, tall Snap­dragon, Marigold, Aster, and Ni­co­tiana are all ex­cel­lent choices.

In rock gar­dens and other lo­ca­tions where shorter spec­i­mens are de­sired Ver­bena, Pansy, Vi­ola, Lo­belia, Alyssum, Dusty Miller, Por­tu­laca and Livingstone Daisy can all be started in a bright in­door lo­ca­tion be­fore mov­ing out­side in late May or early June (in East­ern New­found­land).

If you have large pots around your gar­den each sea­son, seeds may also be a cheaper and more ful­fill­ing way of fill­ing them.

Lo­belia, Wave Petu­nias, and other ideal pot/hang­ing species can be grown in your in­door trays for a great deal cheaper then fill­ing your pot with nurs­ery grown spec­i­mens.

It is im­por­tant to note that start­ing/pot­ting dates for each species can vary greatly; this will be dis­cussed next week.

If you have ques­tions about grow­ing your own bed­ding plants or any other gar­den­ing is­sue con­tact me through email atjohn­nor­

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