Saturday, August 10, 2013

Pansies/Seed Starting

It has been 14 days since I sowed my pansy seeds. I had them in the refrigerator but took them out after 11 days because I was concerned that they had not germinated and may not germinate in extreme cold. From what I have read, optimum temperature for germination is around 60 degrees and I know the refrigerator might be around 40. Cooler temperatures to germinate is obviously not for this seed. I have grown pansies before and did not refrigerate them and they did well. The seeds I sowed this past Winter had poor germination rate and did not make it, but I put them in the refrigerator also. So, why did I do this again? This is one of the reasons for keeping a journal. I guess my blog will now be part of my journaling. I was concerned about leaving the seeds inside the house to germinate because daytime temperatures are usually in the 80's without air conditioning. I do turn on the air conditioner during the day if I am at home, but it's off down stairs at night. As I write this I was thinking, why not set up my mini portable greenhouse and keep them in my bedroom at night since I use the air conditioner all night? Why didn't I think of this before? Another task to complete today since I took it apart when I remove it from the yard after I planted all my Spring seedlings off it's shelves. Today I have to put together a cabinet I ordered on line for my linen. I already started but it will take more than 1 day to assemble. I hope to get to the green house later. If I don't the seeds can still sit in my bedroom over night.

After I sowed the seeds I continued to read post from other bloggers who sow pansy seeds yearly and made the decision to take them out of the refrigerator. I can see that the seeds were plump and had expanded in size since they were sown on top of the surface, but they had not germinated. I took them out about 2 days ago and sat them on my dining room table still in the black plastic bag. I checked them this morning and some seeds have started to germinate. So the refrigerator was too cold, lesson learned. Maybe by this Sunday I will remove the plastic bag. I will check them tonight to decide whether I will remove them from the dark and put them under the grow lights so they won't start to stretch searching for light. I thought to myself today, if you had sown them in maybe June you would have good sized plants now that might be able to go in the ground in October. Too late. I'm just excited that the seeds have started to germinate.

I have had really good success sowing other types of seeds such as coleus, geraniums, petunia, black eye Susan vine, cyprus vine, vinca, floxglove, lambs ear,  impatiens, hyacinth bean vine, pumpkin, and gaillardia. I was concerned last Winter that my vinca wouldn't make it. They are extremely slow growers and I thought I would never have plants large enough for Spring. I told myself, I will never sow vinca again. I will leave them to the experts. I had read that they were difficult to grow. I had excellent success. They were beautiful. I didn't even have to pinch them to make them branch out. The most important thing I learned about them is to just leave them alone, water them when dry, and have patience. Don't compare them and how slow they grow to other seedlings because they catch up in the end. That's what's amazing about them. One day they seem microscopic and suddenly when you look they are full sized. I believe I started them in January and they started to bloom while still inside the house. I hardened them off and gave some away to  my mom an sister for mother's day along with many other seedlings. My sister was so excited she wanted some of everything I had grown. 

Seedlings under grow light

Some seedlings I gave away

Last Winter I also grew pumpkin on a stick. This plant grows ornamental egg plants that look like baby pumpkins. They turn orange in the fall and are often used in Fall flower arrangements. I saw them for the first time last Fall in the Reading Terminal Market. I ordered seeds on line. I was shocked when I visited my mother's home last week and went outside to her yard and saw that the seedlings I had given her had multiple miniature eggplants already. I was glad for her, but mine don't have any yet. She is in Georgia until the Fall. I told her I would take pictures of it and her other plants so she can see how they are doing in her absence. I will grow them again this Winter. Lams ear also did well. I learned from growing them not to start them too early because they really need to go into the ground at a certain point.   They start to spread and need to do this in the ground not in a 4" or  5" container. I loved to see how they transitioned from small plants to grow larger and become fuzzy. Because I kept them in cups and didn't plant them into the ground soon enough many died. Out of eight I planted 3 grew to adult size and are beautiful. I kept one seedling and gave 2 to my mother. I still consider this successful because they would have all survived if I took better care of them and I have 3 plants that will come back every year and multiply. I will grow them again this year but I will put them directly in the ground sooner. I was worried about frost but I thought about the one plant I already have outside that was making new growth even with cool temperatures this Spring. I think they will survive, we shall see. 

My greatest excitement was with my geraniums. They are so expensive in garden centers in the Spring for 1 plant. I never have to buy them again. They were fairly easy growing from seed and bloomed in the house before putting out this Spring. I started them the week after Christmas. I wanted to start them earlier but I normally have the family Christmas dinner and I was planning for that and not seed starting. This was early enough though. I think I might wait until sometime in January this year to start them because they get so large and take up a lot of space and once you do all the work to get them to planting size who wants them to die before setting out in Spring? I am thinking of overwintering them on my enclosed porch over the Winter. If they survive they would be huge next Summer because they are big plants now and the stalks are huge. I have more to say about starting coleus and petunia from seed but this post is long enough and I will share more about what worked for me in starting seeds in another post.

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