Excitement is starting and I find myself smiling when I think of the approaching gardening season. It's hard to believe that December is almost here. The weekend after Christmas is when I started seeds for geraniums and vinca last year. Vinca takes a long time to reach mature size. When the seeds germinated and I saw how almost microscopic they were I said, "I will never grow them again." I never thought I would end up with the beautiful plants I had by Spring. I read a lot about starting them on different sites and felt I had "bit off more than I could handle." I read that they don't like to be over watered and like certain temperatures. In essence many sites felt they were difficult to grow. What did I learn from growing them? Leave them along. Provide 16 hours of light daily followed by 8 hours of darkness, water when dry, and just watch them slowly grow and they will reach full size.
They started to bloom under lights by Spring. Of the seedlings I have started the last couple of years, they were the prettiest and healthiest looking. Some seedling don't compare inside to what they will look like later outside and take until planted outside and temperatures warm up to look normal. Vinca is beautiful before this. The seedlings were the perfect size by Spring. They did well outside in containers this Summer but not as well in the window boxes. None died though. I also started petunias but won't start them this early this year because they were so large and spreading they were too hard to keep contained until time to plant out. I planted wave petunias and had no idea of what they should look like when adult size. I couldn't understand why they branched out from the center. They outgrew their pots and who wants to keep planting lots of seedlings into larger pots. This year I bought pelleted seeds. Bacopa and petunia are mixed in each pellet.
It's exciting to plant seeds and see them grow day by day, but this year I will try to be reasonable and realize that I do not own a greenhouse and I can get bored quick with trying to keep a multitude of seedlings alive and healthy until planting time. Reasonable talk now but when it comes time to start seeds I want some of everything. Of course I can't plant everything. Some seeds are harder to grow. I love cape daisies. I started these last year and they germinated in less than a week. I could never get them to mature size and eventually they died. I may try again this year. I removed my geraniums from the steps outside and onto the porch. They are still blooming in colors or red, orange, white, and hot pink. I bought seeds of a different variety for December. I have the trailing ones for the window boxes and a dark leaf foliage one for the step planters. I did not plan to overwinter them but I may on the porch. I planned to pull them up and add Spring bulbs. I will uses other clay pots instead to plant some bulbs.
My biggest surprise were dahlias. I still have them in a pot it my yard. When I prepare the yard for Winter I will pull them up and see if they formed tubers. I got my beautiful foxglove that I had out front this Summer from seeds sown. I planted it from seed one year and it overwintered and bloomed the second year. I am disappointed that this year it seems to have died. It normally stays green all Winter. I love foxglove and may try starting some this Winter or perhaps Winter sow some outside. I have never done this. I seem to do better starting my seeds inside. I purchased the dahlia seed from Baker Creek. I also planted blanket plant, I think that's the name of it. I have many in a pot and will separate them and hope they do well next Summer.
Things are still green outside and in the yard. I may wait for the first frost to clean up. I would love a leaf shredder to shred the leaves that will fall in my yard to mulch and cover bulbs that I will plant. In Spring I can incorporate them into the soil. Covering the bulbs with leaves seemed to deter the squirrels from digging them up. If they detect fresh turned soil they dig them up may bite them and then discard them. Perennials are still in the yard to be planted before frost. I will get it done. I have been waiting for the garden to die down so I can see where it would be best to plant them. I'm excited aren't you?