Mail Order Flowers Arrive- Planting & Seed Starting
“I am the rose of Sharon, The lily of the valleys. Like a lily among the thorns, So is my darling among the maidens.” –Song of Solomon 2:1-2
The flowers are starting to appear all over our new property. Since we have only lived here 2 months, everything that comes up is a surprise. So far I have identified crocuses, daffodils, tulips, various hostas, decorative dwarf grass, peonies, lilies (not sure what kind yet), various sedum, phlox, hyacinth (smells so good!), and native flowers (unidentified at this time). On April 11 I received my first order of flowers in the mail. Several weeks before they had shipped the herb and wildflower seeds I had ordered.
I did not know what to expect, but was very pleased when they arrived on a Saturday. 5 plants and one hosta mix came in in a small box. Every one was enclosed in a plastic bag and labeled.
Huh, this was not what I was expecting (I guess I thought they would come in pots or something). But it works!
This order contained 2 orange butterfly plants (my favorite), 2 maiden grasses, and one bag of shady places hosta mix. They all look like in the photo- the tubers or bulbs with a little dirt and roots. I went ahead and planted the butterfly plants in the tiered garden beds. I will need to wait just a bit on the hosta mix until I get the retaining wall finished. The maiden grasses will go by the patio and I can’t plant them until the foundation is finished, so I planted them in a pot until the time is right.
For my herb seeds I purchased a bag of Miracle Grow soil that is safe for vegetables. I have been saving my cardboard egg cartons and have also dug out some containers from the recycle bin. I saved seeds last year from pumpkins, tomatoes, and flowers (which I will sew directly outside).
I chose to use cardboard egg cartons this year to start my seedlings. I always buy the cardboard cartons vs. the Styrofoam cartons, even if it’s a little more money (I urge you to do the same!). Cardboard will stay moist with the soil, can be cut easily, decomposes, no worries about plastic chemicals leaching into your soil, and doesn’t cost anything if you use a lot of eggs. But lots of people will use yogurt cups, Dixie cups, or reuse the containers from the greenhouses from previous purchases.
I labeled my container with a Sharpie. Each side of the carton will be a different seed. I don’t want to mix them up, neither do you!
Fill up the container (with seeds you can start with 2″ of soil, but could go up to 6″ containers if desired) entirely and pack the dirt down tightly with your fingers. I wore plastic gloves for this, my nails have been dirty enough lately.
Then find a pencil you don’t care about. I tried using a Phillips screwdriver, but the star end made too rough a hole. A pencil really does work best. Read the back of your seed packet to determine how deep you need to sew the seed. I started with rosemary. The directions said seeds need to be 1/4 inch deep and 3-4 inches apart. Ideally, this would have led to one hole per egg cup, but I just didn’t have enough cartons. I’ll have to divide them later on into bigger cups as they grow.
Read the back of the seed packet well. Almost everything you need to know about your plant will be there. The Days to Maturity tells me when I can anticipate using my rosemary. According to this it will be just after Independence Day.
Hold the pencil vertically and twist it into the cup to the desired depth. Rosemary seeds are small so I made three holes in each cup. Ensure you have a clean hole, and if you do multiple holes in yours cups, use the same pattern for all of them. Such as two diagonal holes, or 4 in diamond shape. That way you know where to expect the seeds to emerge from and which ones didn’t make it. Also, it helps when filling the holes. Some seeds are black like the soil, so it’s easy to forget which holes you already filled. Pay attention!
After all of the holes have seeds in them, gently cover the holes back up. You can use your pencil to do this or your gloved finger. Then set aside and move onto the next seed packet. If you don’t sew your seeds directly outside (which you can still use the pencil method in the ground to keep plants perfectly separated) you will probably have seeds left over. You don’t have to use all of them. But what I will do is throw the extras out into the tilled soil with my wildflower seeds. I was really surprised when my coriander reseeded itself last year.
Don’t be afraid to put your edible plants in with your flowers. Just make sure they never get doused with chemicals or placed near anything poisonous. If my herbs come up with my wildflowers I will still be able to harvest them, and their leaves are really beautiful and smell really good. And if they don’t, I will still have the ones in my vegetable garden. Also, placing certain plants together during growth or packing after harvest can strategically help each other, but that will be a later post.
This is an example of seeds I saved from last year. It’s good to pack them in an envelope and label the name as well as the year they were harvested. If you are interested in seed saving, that will come later this fall.
After I filled my cartons with my ordered seeds and saved seeds this is what I had. I will plant more as I get more cartons, but with all of the other home projects I want to keep the garden simple this year. My work has a fundraiser coming up for YESS this spring and I will buy a zucchini plant, cucumber plant, and a bell pepper plant. I want to build a compost bin soon, and there are always plants that come out of that also (more later).
I had saved some pumpkin seeds last fall that I will now plant into a shallow (so they won’t be shadowed) cardboard shoe box as an experiment. Saving pumpkin and squash seeds can be a little tricky. Some seeds needs to be stratified, which means that a winter dormancy period needs to be simulated to activate germination. I did not do this with these seeds so we will see what happens. I condensed a 2 inch layer of soil, laid out my pumpkin seeds in the box in 5 rows, and covered them up with one inch of soil.
I will need to stratify the Echinacea seeds I ordered. I will use my egg cartons (keeping the tops on this time) and fill them with dirt to the very top (with the lid on it will double the volume of soil). Then I’ll cut an opening in the top of the container like two shutters (or flaps that close back up). Then make my holes, drop in my seeds, wet the soil (with a spray bottle), close the shutters, and place them in the fridge for 3-6 weeks. When I pull them out they will know it’s spring. I’ll take the shutters off, and set them in a warm, sunny window to start the germination, like the seeds I just started. I sprayed all of the egg cups with water (you don’t want to run them under the faucet , the seeds might wash away) and chose the sunniest place in my house, my kitchen table. Some people will go as far as making a small green house for them or placing them under sun lamps. That will definitely speed up the process, but this is all I will do this year.
Stay tuned for when my mail order trees arrive from Arbor Day!