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