Happy First Day of Spring!

It's the first day of spring and I am raaaring to go!  And while the garden is still a muddy mess from all the snow melt, my plans are in high gear.

1st sign of life in the garden
The gorgeous pink catkins of the Mount Oso Pussy Willow

This year, I'm growing a whole bunch of new ornamentals...from seed, of course!  There's still a lot more to be sown, including the bulk of the veggies, but currently under the grow lights I have:

  • Peppers (Shishito, Fiarello, Doce de Espanha, Brazilian Starfish, Odessa, Chervena Chushka, Pepperoncino, Anaheim)
  • Eggplant (Ping Tung, Farmers Long, White Princess, Thai Long Green)
  • Parsley
  • Echinacea (Pallida, Green Twister, Tennesseensis, Mellow Yellow)
  • Dianthus (Rainbow Loveliness)
  • Snapdragons (Potomac:  Dark Orange, White, Lavender)
  • Gomphrena (Mandarin Orange, Globosa Mixed, Audray White)
  • Hollyhock (Majorette Double Champagne)
  • Nicotiana (Bronze Queen, Perfume Mix, Starlight Dancer)
  • Strawflowers (Tall Double Mix, Rainbow Bouquet, Swiss Giant:  Silvery Rose, White)
  • Achillea ptarmica (Marshmallow)
  • Venidium (Orange Prince)
  • Scabiosa (Purple Black, Summer Fruits, Black Knight)
  • Giant Yellow Scabious (Cephalaria gigantea - a perennial)
  • Trachelium (Lake Michigan:  Violet, White)

Echinacea Pallida

I'm also trying winter sowing again.  I did do some last year with about half a dozen varieties, but it didn't work out well so this time round, I was selective and only grew 3 things that I think have a higher likelihood of being successful using this method:  Poppies (7 varieties!), Bupleurum and Verbena bonariensis - the latter two are new-to-me.

Pepper & Eggplant Seedlings
This year I'm concentrating on variety - a little of everything
(instead of a whole lot of any one thing!)

When you grow something for the first time, it's always a bit of a learning curve.  And while Google is full of useful information, sometimes it's a little TOO full.  More often than not, when I'm doing research on sowing a particular type of seed, I'll see varying opinions on everything from how deeply to sow it to how many weeks before my first frost I should start it.

As with most things, experience is the best way to figure out what will work for you.

Speaking of things that are new, this year I also decided to try something that I had been ummming & ahhhhing about for a long time - soil blocks.

First ever soil blocks - a bit wonky but not bad

In retrospect, I probably should have only used them for a few "reliable" ornamentals that I had grown in the past instead of starting a bunch of new-to-me seeds.  I've only had one "oops" (so far!) when there was a "drying-out" incident which resulting in my resowing all of the nicotiana, otherwise, it's going ok.

Nicotiana babies - 2nd sowing is coming up

The 3/4" blocks are incredibly space saving & I have seen some people grow their seedlings to transplant size in blocks this small.  There are numerous other benefits of using soil blocks but, at this point, I feel as if I've done enough experimenting with them for this year and will be doing the rest of my seeding in cell packs, which I feel much more comfortable with.  Don't want to put too many eggs in a basket that I have virtually no experience with and regret it later!

Snapdragon seedlings

I'll be sowing a few more ornamentals tonight - gomphrena, gaillardia, milkweed and statice - as well as a batch of kale.  But what I'm really itching to do is get into the garden and start my cleanup.  Gotta be patient though - it will take at least a week or two for things to dry out.  But then it will be full steam ahead!


  1. I'm impressed by your ambitious seed starting process! I love Venidium and will be interested in hearing how that does grown from seed.

    I bought myself a dinky seed starting system years ago but with only a tiny counter in our laundry room to put it, it wasn't very productive. (If only my husband would let me have part of his garage workshop...)
    So, I rely on direct sowing in the garden. As my climate is much milder than yours, there's a lot I can grow that way but it's not recommended in many cases and that fact - as well as critter issues - impacts the outcome.

    1. Thanks Kris - I'm not sure how well it will do as apparently it prefers cooler temperatures. Our hot summer may be too much for it, but I had the seeds and you never know until you try, right?

      There are definitely a lot of positives to direct sowing - while you have more control (and fewer critters) when you start seeds indoors, tending them can get tedious...and the hardening off process is always such a pain too :)

  2. Sowing blocks! Ummmm...maybe I'll look into that for next year. You grow so many lovelies from seed! And your photo of the Pussy Willow is lovely and encouraging. We're having a slow start to spring this year...much slower than recent years. I think it might be because of the normal cold temps of winter but very little snow cover. Every year is new and unique in the garden!

    1. It's been the exact opposite here - relatively mild winter (compared to "normal") but a ton of snow. Good for the plants; bad for getting an early start in the garden as it's a lot muddier than usual.

  3. Hi, you are hard at it! The soil blocks are interesting. I have a hard time waiting for flower seed to mature. I started a few in milk jugs. Trying to blog again. I have CFS and get so tired but do a little at a time. Your place will be beautiful!.....Nancy

    1. Thank you so much Nancy! I'm so sorry to hear that you are still struggling with CFS. So long as we do what brings us joy (and not what we think we are "supposed" to do), that's what matters. XO


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