First of the Flowers – Petunias & Alyssum
I do enjoy beautiful flowers & ornamental plants but at this very early stage of my garden, I am concentrating mainly on the veggie side of things. That doesn’t mean that I’m completely ignoring flowers, but simply that I’ll only be growing a few for specific purposes or because I happened to have the seeds lying around.
This year’s list includes alyssum (to help with pollination…hopefully), marigolds (for the tomato beds, just like last year), sunflowers (for their seeds), chamomile (for tea), and nasturtiums (just because I love them). I also have several packets of “freebies” obtained from various sources over the past couple of years including love-in-a-mist, four o'clocks, daisies and a wildflower mix. Some of these may be too old now, but I figure I’ll try some seeds from each, just to see what happens.
This past summer, I happened to be in St. Catharine’s with my daughter & took the opportunity to visit Stokes. I had been meaning to buy a soil thermometer for a long time & they had a digital one that I had my eye on. I don’t purchase their vegetable seeds as I find their offerings too commercial & their vegetable seed is often treated as well (although they are non-GMO). I must say, however, that they have an incredible selection of ornamentals (none of which are treated). In their store, they only had a small portion of their seeds on display (which was still quite a selection), so I told my daughter that she could take her pick. This is what she chose:
|Ultra Rose Star Petunia|
Photo Source: Stokes
One thing I must say about the Stokes packets is that they provide VERY specific, bordering on scientific, seed starting information, a big plus for someone like me. The petunia packet even went so far as to state the optimal soil temperature for germination (27C/80F) and typical germination sequence (pinks, blues & whites usually germinate first, with reds being last). As someone who has had minimal experienced with ornamentals, this extra information is invaluable.
The petunias were the first flower seeds to get sown this year. I helped my daughter sow the seeds a couple of weeks ago. The packet indicates that they need light to germinate, so we sowed the seeds on top of the soil, gave them a light spritz of water and draped a bit of cling film over top to help keep the seeds moist. Then off to the heat mat they went.
Only a few days later, this is what we saw:
|If you look very, VERY closely, you can see a seedling in each cell|
Next up was the Alyssum, which I sowed a few days ago. Last year, I planted borage in an effort to attract pollinators to the squash and cucumber beds. They ended up being much larger than I anticipated, often overshadowing the neighboring plants. This year I decided to try alyssum instead. I’m planning on planting the squash in straw bales and I think the alyssum will be just the right size to squeeze into the bales as companions to the squash. I will also be planting a few in the cucumber bed.
I sowed the alyssum seed in the same way as the petunias as they also need light to germinate. They were a bit trickier, however, as the seeds were tiny – practically grains of sand. The packet contained 750-1250 seeds but I'm not even sure it would fill a 1/4 tsp. measure...now THAT'S small! Petunia seeds are probably just as small, but the seed we purchased was pelleted which made for easier sowing.
Till next time…