Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Leggy Seedlings, Frustration and Hope

One of my plans for my garden this year was to create an area where annual California/West Coast wildflowers would grow and self-sow and renew themselves each year. I was originally going to sow them under milk bottle cloches, like the coneflowers, liatris, lupines, coreopsis and fleabane that I sowed early in the spring/late winter. I started out one day over a month ago, sowing some Nemophila seeds under cloches, but ran into problems with my rocky soil. It looks like good soil, but that is because there is about 2 or 3 inches of compost covering a much thicker layer of rocky, sandy soil. In order to hold the cloches to the ground I need to put earth staples in each side to keep them from blowing away in the wind. But I ran into problems trying to get them in deep enough to hold, with all those rocks underneath.

So...I decided, after doing several packets of Nemophila,  to sow the rest of the seeds in cups and put them into my little portable greenhouses. That works really well for my perennials, which often start out as little more than a bit of foliage their first year. But the annuals just got leggier and leggier, till they started to look like they were trying to climb right out of the greenhouse. They reminded me of the sprouts that you eat, long and white and unhealthy.

This past weekend we finally had some nice dry sunny weather, so I thought it was time to try planting them.

Sad leggy Phacelia seedlings

Sad leggy Tidytips seedlings

I was so frustrated by the prospects of success from these sickly seedlings, for a plan that I had such high hopes for back in the winter when I first thought of it. I got halfway through planting these out, and decided to jack it in. The rest of the seedlings ended up in the yard waste bin.
Partially planted wildflower bed

Nemophila that sprouted under the cloches (thick and lush and not leggy)

Pitiful Nemophila from the greenhouse

Not to mention the fact that I planted tall plants in front of shorter ones. Tidytips gets 1 to 1 1/2 feet tall. Meadow foam only gets about 6 to 12 inches tall. And because I wasn't really paying attention, I planted the tidytips in front of the meadow foam. They're also both flowers with yellow centers and white outer edges. Planted right next to each other. Did you ever want to rip something out of the ground the same day you planted it?

Anyway....I had lots of seeds left over. So in a last-ditch effort to save my vision of California wildflowers, I sprinkled the rest of the seed packets in all the areas where I had planned to plant the cups of leggy seedlings.

What epitomizes hope more than a seed?

We'll see in a month or so whether my last-ditch effort was a success. If not, there's always next year. My husband keeps telling me I don't have to plant the entire garden at once.

And, even though I'm late to the party, I'm going to link this post to the Hope Grows meme, hosted by the blog Sweet Bean Gardening. Hope Grows is a recurring meme posted on the 5th of each month, to show off what you are hoping to see/accomplish in your garden over the next month.