Winter has arrived again. It comes. It goes. The needed blanket of snow only lasted a couple of days before melting and exposing the plants to unneeded excess moisture and harsh winds…again. Right now, there’s freezing rain. It’s going to be minus 10 degrees on Monday, but according to my records, it’s time to start seeding…actually a bit past time for pansies and violas for our area (Zone 5, north central Indiana.) Uncharacteristically, I just have not been motivated to do it. However, I know that IF 2019 mimics 2016 with a lovely, very early warm spring I’ll be really, really unhappy if the seeds weren’t planted as scheduled. IF 2019 resembles last year, there’s no need to rush, but how’s a gardener to know? Better to have plants ready than not, so here are the six steps toward seeding that work best for me:
1) The seeds that need stratifying by freezing were put in a plastic bag in the freezer a week ago so they are ready to sow. This includes pansies, violas, parsley, and all hardy perennials. 2) Seeding trays, plant markers and domes have been washed thoroughly and soaked on a 10% bleach solution to kill any lingering diseases or insects.
3) Leftover seeds and newly purchased packets have been carefully sorted by planting dates with dividers that indicate the date to plant. There’s one box for indoor seeding and another one for direct seeding outdoors. Here’s a close-up of two of the dividers: The dividers tell me the date the seeding should occur (upper right hand corner.) Seeds that are in the freezer are marked with an “F” in blue. Those that require light (L in yellow) to germinate will be seeded together in a flat and not only left uncovered by soil but given a clear plastic dome. I can’t tell you how many seeds I spoiled before I learned which ones need total darkness and which ones need light to germinate. Sometimes it’s surprising to know that gomphrena needs total darkness, celery needs light! “D” (in red) means not only do the seeds get covered with soil, but the flat will get a solid cover or be put in a black plastic bag until germination occurs. Those without a letter just get lightly covered with soil and a clear plastic dome. The peppers should have an “H” indicating they need to go on the heating mat to germinate. I’ll have to fix that!
4) A bag of potting mix has been moved indoors to thaw out and reach room temperature prior to seeding. 5) The light stand has been cleaned and sprayed with a 10% bleach solution. Bulbs have been checked and replaced. I made this stand over 30 years ago. I justify the saggy shelf by using it for taller seedlings! Warming mats have also been cleaned with a bleach solution and are ready to go to work.
6) The Seeding and Transplanting portion of this year’s garden journal has been set up, sharpened pencils at the ready.
That’s my six items for this Saturday, and actually just doing all the prep work has put me in a seedy mood! Today is THE DAY! If you’d like to read the thoughts, actions, and observations of other gardeners around the world, visit The Propagator, who hosts this meme.