Annual Flowers from Seed (2018)

This year, as I was starting some herbs, I had a few extra peat pellets left, and I figured I would try to start a few annual flowers again. I’ve made a bit of an attempt over the years, and this will be no different. Depending on the money situation, I will likely buy any bedding plants, but these will hopefully add a bit of homegrown colour and interest to the garden.

 

Lavatera – My grandma grew this almost every year without fail. She would have this huge stand of these beautiful pink flowers along the back side (south facing) of her house. And every year she would save seed from them for the next year.

This packet is from McKenzie seed, and is from 2016.

  • ‘Silvercup’Lavatera
  • “Dense, bushy, mound-shaped plants are clad in attractive, dark green foliage and covered with 10cm (4″) flowers. The brightest of all mallow blooms! Ideal as a mixed border or a quick growing, compact summer hedge. Easily grown”

Cosmos – I grew these along with the veggies back when we had the greenhouse garden to use (before we realized JUST how bat-*&$% crazy the owners of the property were). The beneficial bugs loved them, and so did I, so I figured it was worth a shot again in my backyard this year.

This packet is from McKenzie seed, and is from 2014

  • ‘Early Sensation Mix’Cosmos
  • “So easy to grow they seem to thrive on neglect! Daisy-like 9cm (3 1/2″) blooms in crimson, rose, pink and white are enhanced by yellow centers, held high on graceful fern-like foliage. Exceptionally beautiful in beds, borders and background planting.”

Asters – These are new to me. I got them many years ago with the intent of growing them, but the seed packet sat there unopened until now.

This packet is from McKenzie seed, and is from 2014

  • ‘Powder Puffs’ Aster
  • “Tremendous double flowers, 8-10cm (3-4″) in diameter, grow upright on long sturdy stems. Lovely bouquet-type habit makes it an excellent cut flower. Resists wilt. By picking off faded blooms, you will prolong the flowering season.”

I sowed these (4 of Lavatera, 4 of Cosmos, and 3 of Asters) on April 8, 2018. There may be more if this snow keeps up and I need a small bit of hope of  the summer to come.

Update before I make this post live (April 26):

  • The Aster’s still haven’t germinated. So I think the seeds were too old
  • The majority of the Cosmos have germinated and are currently working on their first true leaves.
  • The Lavatera had spotty germination. One is doing well, a few more germinated but didn’t manage to break their seed leaves through the hard seed shell. I think I have another packet of seeds that I may try to direct sow, but my lavatera dreams may have to wait until next year.

 

 

Advertisements

Herbs (From Seed) 2018

April 8th. We had another bout of snow. It is getting really old at this point. I really hope that Mother Nature has a beautiful Summer and long warm fall in store for us this year.

With the snow outside, I was in the mood to sow some more seeds. So this time around, is Herbs.

A few years ago, I made my own “Italian Seasoning” and it was one of my favourite things that I did that  year. Herbs kind of take care of themselves once they are in a spot they like, so they can be a great beginner project. Additionally, there are quite a few that can be perennial so you don’t need to start fresh every single year. Last year, a bunch of my herbs all survived the winter (which was pretty mild – unlike this year), and I’m hoping they survive again.

I’m going to type out each description from the seed packets, Same as I have done for most seed sowing I’ve done this year.

  • Stevia
    • West Coast Seeds (2018)
    • “This amazing plant’s leaves have extracts said to be 200 times sweeter than sugar. The plant, which does well in the border or in containers, grows to 60 cm (24″) tall with clusters of tiny, but attractive white flowers emerging from every stem”
    • I tried growing Stevia from seed last year (or the year before) and they just fizzled out before it was even warm enough to go outside. I’m hoping this year will be better.
  • Catnip
    • McKenzie Seeds (2018)
    • “Cats love the minty aroma. Dry leaves can be used in cat toys or sprinkled sparingly on cat food. Prefers well drained soil. Harvest flowers before seeds set and dry in a dark, well ventilated place. Can also be grown indoors. Perennial. Zone 3”
    • If you want to grow cat nip too, I recommend having a strong cover on it to protect it from all the neighbourhood cats (or your own cat). The last 2 years, the catnip I had was growing well, and then was ravaged and killed early because of all the cat activity.
  • Lemon Balm
    • McKenzie Seeds (2015)
    • “Bushy perennial plant with light green leaves that has a lemon scent and lemon-mint flavored leaves. Use with soups, meats, fish, sauces and salads. Transplants well. Harvest leaves anytime. For drying, harvest leaves in the early morning. Dry quickly to retain flavour. Heirloom. Perennial. Zone 4.”
    • Lemon Balm is one of my favourites to grow, just to pinch the leaves and smell them. I don’t particularly love tea, but just the scent of this plant fills me with so much joy.
  • Oregano (‘Origanum vulgare hirtum’)
    • Burpee Seeds (2014)
    • “Use as a spicy flavouring in tomato sauces, egg and cheese dishes, vegetable stews, meat and chicken dishes and pizza. Annual”
    • I only sowed one peat pellet of the Oregano, but I figured that I can just buy a quick plant in the spring to supplement my herb garden if this one doesn’t take off.
  • Sweet Marjoram (‘Origanum marjorana’)
    • Burpee Seeds (2014)
    • “Leaves add flavour, fresh or dry to soups, dressings, beans and meat dishes. Annual”
  • Thyme
    • McKenzie Seeds (2014)
    • “Ideal for flavouring meats, fish, stuffing, stews and soups. Sow indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost. Transplant to a well-drained area in the garden. Ready to harvest in 85 days”
    • The Thyme I started in 2016, survived winter and I enjoyed using it fresh all summer. I started one peat pellet of this as a back-up in-case the Survivor-Thyme doesn’t make it through this much harsher winter.
  • Summer Savory
    • McKenzie Seeds (2014)
    • “The leaves have a sharp, peppery thyme flavor that is well suited for bean dishes, meat pies, poultry dressings, salads, soups and caseroles. Prefers well drained soil. Keep moist. Pack soil around stem to prevent plants from falling. Pick leaves anytime after plant is established. For drying, cut off entire plant just before flowering and hang to dry. Annual”
    • My Summer Savory also survived winter last year, despite it saying that it is an annual. I don’t expect it to survive again this year, and finding this herb as a plant can be hit or miss. I’ve found it at the walmart garden centre one year, and then never again.
  • ‘Cinnamon’ Basil
    • McKenzie Seeds (2015)
    • “A native to Mexico, the leaves have a spicy cinnamon flavor; flowers are deep pink with purple bracts. Add to hot beverages for added taste. Start seeds at anytime for indoor use. Plants require an organically rich, well drained soil. Expect your first harvest 5-6 weeks after sowing. Sensitive to frost. Annual”
    • While I have a collection of a few different varieties of basil, I picked this one out of the bunch, for the same reason as the Lemon Balm… Just to sniff the leaves. It also has beautiful little flowers that the bees loved the year that I grew this before.
  • ‘Champion Moss Curled’ Parsley
    • McKenzie Seeds (2014)
    • “Dense fine foliage, closely curled, very dark green. Excellent for flavouring soups, salads, stews or as a garnish and very good for freezing. Hasten germination by soaking seeds for 24 hours in luke-warm water. Biennial. Prefers partial shade.”
    • Parsley is one of my favourite herbs to grow and then dry for use in the Kitchen. It stays a beautiful green through the drying and keeps wonderfully.
  • ‘Plain Leaved’ Parsley
    • Mr. Fothergills’s Seeds (2013)
    • “Flat leaves superior in flavour. Cold hardy. Use in salads, soups, on fish and poultry.”
    • Like I said above, Parsley is a favourite. And this flat leaf type does dry for kitchen use much better than the curled type, but I do like having both types in the garden.

I will also be growing Dill and if I can find a plant, some Chocolate Mint.

 

 

 

Milkweed


I’m going to attempt to grow some Milkweed for the Butterflies this year.

The seed packet says to start indoors 8-10 weeks before last frost. That is right about now… I mean, our last frost date is very dependant on the year. And there are things that I can do to help protect the little plants if we have a cold spring.

The seed packet description reads: “Asclepias curassavica. Attractive to butterflies! This easy to grow cheerful flower provides large clusters of orange to reddish colored blooms along landscapes. Tolerates dry conditions. Annual”

Days to sprout: 14-21

Bloom Period: June-Frost

Since the seed packet doesn’t usually give a lot of helpful “how to grow” info if you have no idea what you are doing, I did a little googling.

This website suggests that Milkweed needs to go through a period of cold stratification. It is actually the most helpful site that I found in my quick googling so I’m going to follow their suggestions. A few things I learned:

  • Many varieties of Milkweed have a long tap root that should not be disturbed. They suggest using peat pots for this reason.
  • transplant out when plants are still small, less than 3 inches tall (because of that tap root).
  • apparently it is normal for the plant to lose all of its leaves after transplanting. The plant is building roots and will regrow its foliage after a bit. {This is a little concerning, so I’m going to have to keep this in mind, and cross my fingers that it doesn’t happen}
  • You should only have to water these just after transplanting to let them get established, and then after than only in periods of drought.

Okay, so Why grow Milkweed in the first place? For the Monarch Butterflies. According to the website saveourmonarchs.org the Monarch caterpillars only eat milkweed. Because of habitat destruction through development and spraying weeds in fields, Milkweed is fast disappearing. Thus Monarchs are fast disappearing.

Adult Monarchs do have a varied diet using other flowers as sources of nectar… It is the caterpillars that are facing the habitat loss.

From a more Canadian Perspective, Here is a link to Animal Facts on Monarchs from Canadian Geographic.

So this is what I’m going to do. I’ve put some seeds into a wet paper towel and I’m putting them in the fridge for a week or so. Then I will put them into seed starting mix in a large peat pot. I’ll start some not ‘cold-stratified’ seeds in the same sized peat pot at that time too. (I sowed/put seeds on paper towel into the fridge, on March 8th)

AND I will also be planting a few other wildflower mixes as well, but I’ll save that for another post.

I have done a little more googling since I first wrote the first part of this post. In some areas Milkweed is considered a noxious weed. So if you live in areas where this could easily self seed itself in areas outside of your growing area, maybe reconsider growing it. Check out information on your area and make your decision based on that. Please don’t blindly follow just one source on the internet. Find more, with different viewpoints and make your own decisions. I am going to still plant this. I don’t for see it escaping my yard. I might reconsider if I lived in a rural area with less containment. It is a choice, and it should be an informed one.

Front: Cold Stratified Seeds;    Back: Straight from the seed packet.


So, since I forgot to hit publish on this post when I first wrote it… As of March 29th, I have not noticed any difference between the cold stratified and the seeds straight out of the seed packet. The cold stratified ones are slightly behind, but there was about 10 days between when each was sowed into dirt. They are a little bit leggy, but I cannot adjust the height of my little grow light, so they are just doing their best.

Hot Peppers for 2017

On March 6, in the midst of a deep freeze outside, I finally gave in and stuck seeds into dirt. I decided to skip the Habaneros this year. I also cut out the Jalapenos again. They grew so well two years ago, but I found that I did not use them as much as I had planned. So I’m using the space I would have used on Jalapenos and add some more Cayenne, which will be dried and used as spice for food.

I sowed (on March 6th):

  • 6 peat pellets of ‘Long Red Cayenne Slim’
  • 2 peat pellets of ‘Kung Pao Hybrid’
  • 2 peat pellets of ‘Seranno’
  • 2 peat pellets of ‘Hungarian Wax’

The Serrano was the first to poke its head up, followed closely by the Hungarian Wax and Kung Pao…

Then nothing from the Cayenne. I waited until the 15, and still no sign of life. In the meantime, I added some of the seeds from the same packet into a wet paper towel with bottom heat (same as the peppers), and still nothing. Usually you can see the seeds plump up a bit, and start to send out their root within a few days. All of these seeds had nothing.

So I splurged on a new pack of seeds. I sowed them in 6 peat pellets on the 17th (Happy St. Patrick’s Day!). I kept my fingers crossed these new ones will germinate because the Cayenne is my favourite, and ultimately the most useful for me.

On the 27th, the new Cayenne had started sprouting. Finally! Out of the entire old pack of cayenne (including the germination test), 1 seed sprouted, out of at least 30. So disappointing! I’m glad that I bit the bullet and got the new pack. (This is also why I start my peppers and tomatoes a little early, so I have some time to play catch up with a new attempt)


(Still on the 27th…) The Serrano, Hungarian and Kung Pao are nearly ready to get potted up. They all have their first true leaves, so I will get to potting them up in the next few days. I’ll save that for it’s own update post.

Thank you, as always, for reading. If you have any tips/tricks or helpful advice share it in the comments.

PS. EXTRA Thank you! I just hit 50 likes on my Facebook page for this blog. Which is not that impressive, apart from I put almost zero effort into trying to get anyone to follow over there… I didn’t even send invites to everyone of my friends (just a few who I knew would give me some support). So if you have stumbled to my Facebook page for this blog and liked it… THANK YOU… but if you want to stumble your way over to the Facebook page, and hit “Like” if you haven’t already…I will do a literal happy dance. Every time a new post goes up here, It will be on that Facebook page, so if you don’t want to miss any of my ramblings, head over there, and it will tell you when something new is happening here.

I just made that way more complicated than it actually is.