Yes! The first seedlings for the 2022 season are emerging! If you’ve never grown lisianthus from seed, it’s not for the impatient or the feint of heart. Last year was my first time, and I’ve never grown anything so darn slow or trying in my over 50 years of growing! But, the flowers were so worth the wait, and so I’m growing (at least attempting!) even more in number and variety this year. As you can see from the toothpick for reference, the seedlings are exceedingly small. In fact, I think a couple were actually up before I even saw them. One almost needs a magnifying glass, or at least better vision than mine.
This is my first time using soil blocks. Not sure if I like them yet or not. The first (100) lisianthus seed (ABC 1 Mix) was actually divided into three groups. I attempted to seed 40 into soil blocks, but I can already tell that obviously instead of one seed per block, in some cases there are two. Will one block be empty because I seeded another block twice, or did the impossibly small (even though they are “pelleted” to make them larger!!!) seeds stick in a group on the end of the moist toothpick during seeding? Time will tell. The second group went into a row tray, another first for me, and unless something changes, I don’t think I’m going to like them. They dry out way too fast, but maybe keeping the roots in a smaller area will make seedlings easier to transplant. Another wait for judgement situation. The final group went into my usual, standard seeding flat like the one shown below.
Because I’m growing more seedlings than usual, and attempting to get earlier blooms for cutting, I’m getting an earlier start, although this is the time of year that I always seeded violas, pansies and perennials for sale in my commercial greenhouses. The flat above contains left to right: Dianthus “Bodestolz”, as yet to germinate Delphinium “Blue Donna”, Dianthus “Summer Mix” and then five rows of Viola “Penny Orange.” Yes, violas are back on the list. I missed their sweet faces too much last spring but these are mostly for containers rather than edging the potager’s main paths. The plan is to utilize the greenhouse a couple of weeks earlier than usual, moving plants through to the hardening off stage a bit quicker, and utilizing some “low tunnel” hoops with plastic and frost cloth. Many of the “new” additions are plants that like cooler weather so hopefully it will work even if Mother Nature is not totally cooperative. This is what makes gardening fun for me: the unknown, working through problematic situations, the challenge, the prospect of new flowers!
I’m getting a lot of teasing from friends who know me and my gardens well. Bonnie came for tea yesterday and after hearing that I plan to grow bouquets for the “Growing Kindness” project, laughed and said “Well, I think you’ll need to expand your color pallet!” (Implying that not everyone is as fond of orange and apricot as I am, as difficult as that is for me to comprehend!) My reply to that is, “Well, at least I won’t have any trouble at all making myself cut flowers this year. Anything that cracks open pink or red will be in a bucket before it knows it!”