First Seeding 2020

Finally, the first three seeding flats are sown! Now that the “ice has been broken,” I find myself thinking of the coming season much more often, with more excitement as the days pass (even though there is snow on the ground.) It’s important to seed perennials and slow-growing annuals early, in order to get blooms yet this season.

Pansy “Ultima Beacon Bronze”

The first batch is much of the usual: the “Penny Orange” and “Peach Jump Up” violas that make up the potager’s main path edges in the early season, a new pansy “Ultima Beacon Bronze” for the early deck and front door containers, the dwarf snapdragons “Snaptini Sunglow” and “Twinny Peach” that also go in early containers and the potager’s interior border front edges, and flat leaf parsley because I’m running out of the crop I dried for winter so I’ll need it as soon as possible. The pansies and violas require darkness to germinate, but the snapdragons need light to sprout, so of course they went in separate flats. A good seed starting guide or book will give you that information, but basically if the seeds are really tiny I sprinkle them on the surface, give them a misting and a cover of clear plastic wrap (or a plastic dome) and put them under lights. Also, all of the above seed packets were put in a plastic bag and went into the freezer for a week before seeding to stratify, so now they will germinate quickly.

There are also some herbs that I’m starting early because I’d like to have some for the garden club sale and for the herb symposium: salad burnet, sweet marjoram, alpine strawberries, sage, sweet fennel, and a new balm called “Mandarin Orange” that is related to lemon balm but (hopefully!) with an orange bergamot scent and flavor. I’m interested in seeing this one grow.

Nepeta “Panther Dark Blue” (photo courtesy Swift Greenhouses)

With the realization that at some point I won’t be able to grow and plant out 4,000 annuals for my gardens each year, there are more perennials than before: Nepeta “Panther Dark Blue,” Linum “Sapphire,” and Salvia “Sky Dancer” to add more blue/purple tones;

Ladies Mantle “Irish Silk” has lovely foliage and clusters of yellow flowers.

Alchemilla “Irish Silk” for more gold/chartreuse in the main flower borders and my friend Chris’ yellow hollyhocks for the Addition Garden and the potager interior border. (Hollyhocks are edible, too!)

The seeds of some pretty pale orange coneflowers that I moved from the old farm were harvested last fall, and planted this week, after a week in the freezer. I hope at least some of them turn out to be similar to their parents, although with seed one never knows, and they could end up being white, yellow, or that ghastly pink. I’ll grow them on and next year when they bloom the rejects can go to the garden club plant sale because someone will love them, especially the butterflies. And, although not a hardy perennial in our area, Agastache “Tango” is easy from seed and provides tall, airy stalks of peachy-orange blooms for the deck containers, and the hummingbirds and butterflies love them as well.

These collarette dahlias are easy to grow from seed!

After the dahlia disaster last year, I’m growing my own from seed again, the delightful “Sunny Reggae” which always bloom the first year from seed if started early and are a perfect size for bouquets and containers, as well as filling in the potager’s interior borders in late summer through autumn. Dahlias are edible, you know.

And lastly, the first of three plantings of cippolini “Bianca” were sown because I didn’t grow enough last year, so I’m hoping to squeeze in an extra planting.

That’s sowing #1, with #2 due around Valentine’s! Have you begun seeding? Is there something new that excites you? I can definitely feel my blood moving a bit faster!


About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
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4 Responses to First Seeding 2020

  1. Jo Shafer says:

    Too early for pansies here, so I usually wait a few weeks when I can purchase flats of tiny plants to set out in the garden as well as the two urns on the front porch. They become the “bedding” for bulbs and then the peonies a bit later.


    • carolee says:

      I would like to simply buy pansies, but I can never find the colors I want. The quantity I want would break my budget. I long for the old days when an entire flat (72 plants) of annuals was under $10.


  2. Over Soil says:

    I love those “Ultima Beacon Bronze” Pansies, such a lovely colour.


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