No violas in 2021

Since the potager was built, each year over 500 violas were grown and then planted along the potager’s two central paths and in the triangular planters near the greenhouse. As you can barely see from the photo below, they are one of the first crops to go in each spring. The only other green at this stage are rows of garlic. I loved the early color violas provided. However, 500 plants take up a lot of basement growing space and take a lot of my energy. As I age, I’m trying to reduce the workload a bit and am looking for sensible ways to cut back.

The violas usually get planted about April 1st.

Normally, the viola seeds are sown in flats in the basement in December, transplanted into 32’s in early February, and moved to the greenhouse in early March but the decision was made not to do that this year.

By April 21st the violas are blooming, along with the miniature tulip “Bright Gem.”

The violas can withstand the erratic weather that Indiana often experiences in April and May and just keep doing their thing.

By May 21st the violas have become a solid band of color and fill in the space as the tulip foliage begins to fade.

However, for the past two years, the weather has warmed up so quickly in spring and early summer that the marigolds could actually be planted in late April! The violas take massive amounts of deadheading; the marigolds are not as demanding. I started thinking about this change last year, when I didn’t grow enough violas to finish all the edging. The weather cooperated, and the marigolds were able to go in quite early, while the tulips were still blooming!

Last year, the marigolds were planted April 26!

The decision was made to not order any viola seeds for 2021. Now, we wait to find out if that was a good one or not. Will the weather cooperate so the marigolds can go in early? Will a freak frost do the marigolds in? (Last year we did have a freak mid-May frost that required lots of blanket covering. Was that more work than growing 500 violas and 500 marigolds and planting the edging twice? Not nearly!) Will not having violas in that space, leaving it empty for approximately 25 days be too annoying?

Will I regret not having these cheery blossoms come spring?

So, I got an entire extra month without having to trek up and down the basement stairs to tend seedlings. There will be 500 fewer plants to care for, move to the greenhouse, move to the hardening off benches, and then to plant. Also, fewer bags of potting soil to purchase and unload. Right now, that seems like a good idea, the sensible decision. But will I miss those sweet little pansy faces? My heart says “yes;” my knees say “no!”

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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11 Responses to No violas in 2021

  1. I doubt I can do without those sweet little faces in otherwise bare beds, so I’ll look for seedlings in early spring, once we’re “allowed out of the house” of Covid confinement!

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  2. 500 plants, astonishing, am impressed and not surprised you want a change! Why don’t you grow a little less than 500, rather than giving up on them entirely, especially as you do like them?

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  3. I love violas too, but they always get ahead of me with respect to deadheading. It’s hard making those necessary “cut back” decisions as we age. I’m watching your plans with keen interest. Take care!

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    • carolee says:

      It is hard to admit that I need to cut back, but my emphasis needs to be on edible foods to share during these strange times. I’ll probably end up growing just as many plants overall…we’ll see. Just reducing a month of climbing up and down stairs is a start!

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  4. Scott Dee says:

    Talking about plants in such quantities… No wonder you have to plan out all the work! I’m sure those 500 potential plants will go on to make someone else’s garden cheerful, so I’m certain they’ll still be beautiful somewhere.

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  5. Being sensible is often hard I find! But you will find other, less demanding plants to fill the space and cheer you up in early spring. I am confining annuals to veg and using perennials and self-seeders for flowers.

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    • carolee says:

      I’ve reduced the annual flowers as well, and adding more perennials. Still doing some zinnias, celosia, marigolds but concentrating space and energy on food. Always good to hear from you!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. J.Q. Rose says:

    I know you will miss those beautiful viola faces, but the marigolds are bright and cheery. We have gone to using marigolds around our garden and flower beds. Good to keep the deer away too!! Good to meet you at Helena Fairfax’ blog today!

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    • carolee says:

      I’ll be looking up your books. Hope they are on Kindle. Only my 3rd and 4th are… So nice to learn about you as well. I’m an avid veg and herb gardener.

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