Monday, February 1, 2010

Seedy Thoughts

February and a gardener's thoughts turn... seedy!

A few days ago, I finally did my first batch of the season's winter sowing. I usually sow one container on Dec. 21st, so I'm a little behind, but still in plenty of time. A lot of what I sowed were natives and other plants that need periods of cold and moisture to germinate. Indoor seed starters emulate the cold cycles by putting their seeds into and out of the refrigerator, and they cut a little notch into hard seed coats to help the little cotyledon break through. Winter sowers don't need to worry about either, because the outdoor containers get plenty cold and the moisture softens the seed coats without scarification. Yay!

In the past I sowed at least eight or more of each seed variety because so many seeds come in those packets. But it dawned on me, hey! I'm not a nursery and I only need so many of each plant. So I'm starting much smaller numbers each of more varieties overall. If you're curious, the list of what I sowed so far is here.

It has been bitterly cold here. The winter-sown containers above are just waiting for the weather to warm up. As they have ice on the lids, I know the moisture inside is good. (Snow or water droplets also indicate adequate moisture.)

Even though I have more than enough seeds for many more batches of winter seed sowing (even despite my seed swaps!) — some might even say too many, and I'm probably one of them! — and even though I really wasn't planning to acquire more seeds (other than what comes back to me in the seed swap) — in fact, you might even say I've been making a very concerted effort not to acquire any more seeds this season! — well, the D. Landreth Seed Company catalog came in the mail on Friday. Uh oh. Oh my. So many lovely and droolworthy heirloom varieties. I'd come across Landreth's about five years ago, when ordering seeds for the 1860s fountain garden I created at Cobblestone Farm, but didn't end up ordering from them. I'm not sure why. Here is what I, showing the utmost restraint, now ordered for my own garden:
  • Corn, Golden Bantam
  • Peppers
    • Miniature Chocolate Bell
    • Jalapeno Early 
  • Eggplant, Black Beauty
  • Balsam, Bush Mix
  • Potatoes, Bintje
  • Tomatoes
    • Black Krim
    • Dr. Carolyn
    • German Johnson
    • German Red Strawberry
I would have ordered giant celosia, too, but they were out. I love the velvety texture and brainy look of those flowers!

I'm excited to winter sow corn. I know the seeds need warmth to germinate, but that's no problem in winter sowing where seeds wait dormant in the containers until the soil temperature is ideal for their particular needs, but I hope the seeds themselves can survive cold temperatures. I'll be growing the eggplant and bell peppers in containers, where groundhogs can't see the seedlings. I'm hoping some zucchini seeds find their way back to me in the seed swaps (waves to participants), as they did last year. Those did wonderfully in a container as well.

And moving (seamlessly, I might add) from seeds for planting to seeds as bird feed, be sure to take part in this year's annual Great Backyard Bird Count on February 12-15. You can do the count on any or all days. It's a lot of fun!
And, finally, I apologize for having been offline for several weeks and therefore not having left any blog comments in as long. I just go through periods like that. But, February is a new month!


  1. Hi Monica, so nice to see you, we were just a teensy bit worried about you! We are on board with the winter sowing, so glad I have your book to refer to, I highly recommend it! We have had some cold days and some warm days. I moved the winter sown flats to the shady side of the wall to keep them from overheating in the sun. There might be zucchini seeds when the packet gets back to you, I put in several since we are going to buy from the farmer's market this year. Your Campanula seeds are up in the greenhouse, most others are outside. Thanks for the heads up about Landreth too. I am practicing counting birds for the big weekend as well. :-)

  2. Looking good. I know it will be exciting to see them all germinate!

  3. Monica, of course you couldn't resist some "German" tomatoes for your garden. :) I need to get busy with my winter sowing. I have a couple of containers. Good to hear from you.

  4. Monica, I've been wondering how you were doing--welcome back! Perfect timing on today's post: the milk jugs have all been sterilized, and today is the day for the fun part! Your book has been a tremendous help, and I've been following it religiously. Can't wait to see how this works out for me.

    If Frances' zucchini seeds aren't still in the packet when it arrives here, I'll make sure to put some in. I ordered a new collection that's supposed to have 3 or 4 varieties of different summer squash, which sounded like the perfect solution for me. I think I got carried away ordering way too many seeds--they just seem to call out my name when I look through those catalogs. And I haven't even gotten the seed exchange packet yet! I may have to convince Mr. Procrastinator to dig up an acre here for more flowers:)

    When you have time for catching up on blog reading, be sure to scroll down to a post I did a week ago with the cats and Sophie. No need to leave a comment--I just want you to see the picture of Sophie and Tarzan together:)

  5. Glad you're back Monica! All that seed sowing though... I am just not as organized as all you other garden bloggers. I do plan to place an order for plants this week and perhaps an order for seeds too - you all have inspired me! Can't wait to see your progress with the seeds.

  6. Hi Monica, I have my containers ready. I need to stop somewhere and get some soilless mix to plant in. (I hope soilless mix is the right thing to use.)

  7. I was wondering if you might have been visiting family! Glad to have you back~~Winter sowing is on my list for this week and once the thaw sets in I can get soil! Have a great week!


  8. Happy Michigan February, Monica :) Since I don't sow seeds, your seedy thoughts put me to shame :(

  9. Great post Monica. Glad to have your inspirational gardening messages back online. Sometimes its hard to plan far ahead this time of year, but your posts will help the schedule.

  10. Hi Monica - glad to see you back - was going to launch a search party. You seem so well organised with your seed sowing. Look forward to hearing about their progress. Did you get the mushy pea seeds? If not do let me know.

  11. Even the frozen tundra isn't holding you down! Bravo!

  12. Hey Monica, it's good to see you! You asked about the P. mume and honeybees -- I took those pictures last Thurs, when it was in the low '60's. Then it snowed Friday night.

  13. Hmmm... that mini chocolate bell pepper sounds pretty cool. Never heard of that one. Can't live without my Krim tomatoes.. :)

  14. Isn't the Landreth catalog an amazing thing? I've had it a couple of weeks, but haven't ordered anything. I'm too busy looking through the pages on a daily basis.

  15. Liebe Monica, Du musst Dich doch nicht für eine Blogpause entschuldigen. Wir wollen doch Spaß an unseren Blogs haben und keinen Zwang.
    Du bist schon fleissig am Aussäen. Leider habe ich dafür keinen Platz und leider auch keine Zeit. Früher wollte ich immer so gern ein Green-House haben, inzwischen bin ich froh, dass es nichts wurde, denn ich würde es zeitlich kaum nutzen können.
    Liebe Grüße

  16. Hi Monica. Thank you for the advise on MiracleGro. I'll be sure to use that. Do you still want the sea holly seeds? I saved you a bunch.

  17. No duties in blogging!

    Your comment about winter corn has made me think I might try harder with corn this year. Generally, I start it off too late because it's low on my list of needs and everything else comes first. I think I might put it to the top this year as I want to give the garden a rest from tomatoes.


  18. Hey Monica...I have done absolutely nothing but stare at the pages of my garden catalogs.. I seem to be in a mental fog or funk!

    But I know that will change in a few as my spirits rise with the sun and inspirations I receive from reading your wonderful blogs and others who blog about their gardens...

    Can't wait to see what happens in your spring garden! this spring.

  19. So, I understand you've been having some seedy thoughts recently. Hmm.
    I must inform you that I don't think there is a cure for that mental condition. Well, at least you're in good company;-) I am not sure about my seed starting this year. Still trying to decide. I might end up waiting until small plants are available at the garden centers and grow them from that point on. I shall see...!

    You said you haven't left comments lately for anyone...but you have been on my blog several times in the last few weeks...and left me please don't be hard on yourself! You visit way more than I seem to manage to do. I am lately beginning to 'make the rounds' again, but generally speaking, I haven't been real consistent.

    I hope you'll participate in the Garden Bloggers Sustainable Living project I'm having, along with the garden product Give Away! I think we're starting to get some nice give away gifts...and I expect several more to come! Take care, Jan

  20. and yes, I'm into the probably noticed I have info about it on my blog when you stopped by. I did it last year and enjoyed it!!

  21. Hi Monica....just glad to hear you are okay....I had thought you may be unwell.

    It is lovely to read a post on seeds, it turns the mind to spring and what may be ahead...

    I have never done winter sowing. I may try and see how successful it is.

  22. Monica,I know exactly what you mean about being absent. This has been the worst time for me-very blah. We are interested in what everyone has to say, but just don't have the energy to reply or do our own posts.

    So glad you are writing about the winter sowing. I am going to try it next year, I promise. :) Keep us posted on how your seeds are doing.

    Now can a gardener really have too many kinds of seed?? I think not!

  23. Me too... I'm so ready for spring!


  24. oooh winter sowing! I'm gonna give it a shot for the first time this year.
    I'm zone 2b so I was gonna wait another month.

  25. Some days are just "like that!" Meaning that we all have lives to live outside blogging. ;-) Love to see what you've been doing. I'm just working with my little mini-greenhouses again.

  26. That Landreth's catalog tempted me too, and I have it in my "next year" ordering pile. I'm surprised that you wintersow so early...I was going to wait for March first since "June moon" is my safe frost free range. Gonna be counting birds, too. I hope you get your zucchini seeds :)

  27. Hi Monica, I always enjoy your newsy 'catch-up' posts when you've been offline for awhile. Sounds like lots of seedy and fun stuff is going on.

    Gotta say I agree with Esther - no duties in blogging. I'll take the liberty of adding: no need to apologize for taking a break. Some people blog every day, some once a week, some sporadically, some whenever the inspiration, or fancy strikes, and some, every chance they get. It's all good.