Belated Valentine’s Greetings!

Amaryllis “Nanjara”

Hope that on Valentine’s Day you had some sweetness of one kind or another, or of many kinds! I have enjoyed my many amaryllis bulbs coming into flower over the past weeks, but these bright orange “Nanjara” really outdid themselves by coming into bloom for Valentine’s. The ones in front were so large and heavy that they toppled the pot over and bent the stalks, so I had to cut them and put them into a tall vase. I had no idea cut amaryllis would last so long, but these were blooming a week before the other two pots opened.

My excuse for being late with your Valentine greeting is that I’ve been busy preparing for family from Germany to visit this week, and trying to keep caught up with the seeding and transplanting. As you can see below, the main plant bench which is 4′ x 8′ is crammed full of penstemons, lemon catnip, lavenders, monarda, rudbeckias, delphiniums, feverfews, etc.

I wish I’d kept another bench like this to double the space in the basement!

And the light stand is filled with flats of seedlings, a few of which(mainly lisianthus and asters) have been transplanted into plug flats, but most are in soil blocks or seedling flats. Loyal readers will recognize (and probably shake their heads) the sagging shelf that I promised to replace a couple of years ago, but now I’m not going to fix it because that low shelf allows for some taller plants to fit in the stand and I find it very useful!

The stand holds 24 1020 flats plus ten styrofoam containers of soil blocks (60 per container)

I built this old light stand over 40 years ago, and am only now having to replace a bulb now and then. As rickety as it is, it serves its purpose and right now is holding a whopping 2,328 seedlings! It could hold lots more if I were more enamored of soil blocks, but I’m finding not everything does well in them, at least in my basement conditions so I still use a lot of open seeding flats, row trays, and plug flats.

Some make-do shelving in Room 2!

But, the main room (the warmer room) is full so some flats have been moved to Room 2 which tends to be a bit cooler. There’s only two shelves plus the floor and it’s an odd size so the 4′ light doesn’t quite extend far enough to serve the entire shelf. But some seeds (like annual phlox in the white styrofoam container on the right) need darkness to germinate, so all the space is utilized in one way or another. Since the floor is cool, it is home to the first round of ranunculus and anemones, temporarily until they move into the greenhouse hopefully next week, because the second round will soon need those lights!

These snapdragons (and a few anchusa to finish filling the flat) grew too tall for even the sagging shelf!

These “Early Potomac” snapdragons will also be going out soon as well as some yarrows and other perennials that can take the cold with some protection. Last year, I planted out lots of things into the potager’s beds on March 13 and it worked out well, so this year I am pushing it a bit earlier. Everything will go under low tunnels because winter is not over yet here in central Indiana…far from it, since our typical last frost date is May 15.

Sweet peas will be some of the first plants to go out into the beds

These three jugs of sweet peas hold 11 or 12 toilet paper tubes of soil each, depending upon the design of the jug. This is the first round of sweet pea seedlings “Mammoth Choice” and they’ve already been pinched. The second round is all “Mid-Blue” seedlings and they are only about half the height. I found I needed a lot more blue in the early arrangements than the mixes provided so this should do the trick. The third round “Heirloom Mix” was just seeded yesterday and I may do one more round of “Mammoth Choice” just in case the first round succumbs to too much winter. And, I may do a round for the garden club plant sale because they can soon be outdoors and not take up precious space in the basement.

The first bloom of the 2023 season!

And just as the winter doldrums are taking hold, what should appear on February 12 but the first snowdrops of the season! As soon as I saw them I had to run back inside for the camera. This is eleven days earlier than last year. And then when I was passing the end of the Deck Garden, I saw this!

The first crocus hiding among an “Angelina” sedum.

Generally, the first crocuses don’t appear until March 3 or 4th so this is quite a bit earlier. These early risers have spurred me into action because it’s proof that spring is not that far away and there is SO MUCH to do! So, I put the camera away and hurried to seed two rows of spinach, thinned and transplanted some larkspur in bed 3b, and seeded some “Delft Blue” nigella in 5e. Then I began repairing raised beds that have pulled apart at the corners due to all the freezing and thawing we’ve had this winter. I fixed 12, but there are 16 more to go. My hammering arm got tired, my screwdriver hand got tired, and I ran out of metal corner brackets, so I’ll have to wait for the shipment to arrive and the next nice day. I’ve also decided to replace two beds entirely so that will take a trip to the lumber yard for boards and stain. The job list continues to grow….

My community is being very supportive of the “Growing Kindness Project” by supplying me with bags and bags of water and soda bottles, so I spend tv time removing labels and cutting the bottles off to become vases. There’s about 800 already done and ready to use neatly stacked on shelves in another basement room that also houses the crates of stored dahlia tubers. They, will have to be divided and potted soon but that will require a buying trip for bales of potting soil. I’ve also made all the plant sales signs for the plants I’m growing for the garden club sale because I know that once the weather settles I just won’t have any time indoors. And February is already over half over!!!

So, now you are caught up again. I’ve also been working on the next “Ten Top Performers” post, so expect it once my family has departed. Can you guess what it will be?


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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10 Responses to Belated Valentine’s Greetings!

  1. bcparkison says:

    How wonderful to have space to do all of your own seeding. The one time I tried this wasn’t successful..If age doesn’t stop me maybe someday I’ll be back to serious gardening.


  2. margieclyde says:

    What an amazing amount of seedlings!


    • carolee says:

      Since I once had commercial greenhouses that were 120′ long each, it seems like a drop in the bucket now, but I think I appreciate each one a bit more and it’s different just growing what I want and love rather than what sells!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Su says:

    Phew – you are one busy gardener! I hope all your baby plants give you enough time to enjoy your visitors, and that the weather cooperates for your plant movement plans.


  4. Beth says:

    The amaryllis are beautiful – I need to look into getting this variety to add to my collection. It is exciting to see all your seedlings and think about what they will become later this season!


  5. Going Batty in Wales says:

    I envy you your growing room with heat and lights. I am having to wait until the weather warms up to start seeds off or they will have nowhere to go once they come up. But then I realise that I would have to do more work to keep up with them all! You are amazing and so well organised!


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