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

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Seed Starting Success

Last winter I didn't start any seeds at all, although most years I do lots. This year I'm back on form. I've been sowing seeds for a while now and putting them out in the portable greenhouses that I have. I had to buy new plastic covers for three of them, because after being left out in the sun, they start to deteriorate, and eventually just fall apart. But they lasted about three years. I bought the new covers from Amazon.

Three of my portable greenhouses. There's a reason they're empty, except for the pots of rocks on the bottom shelf.

The little greenhouses are on the south wall of my house, where they get plenty of sun. In fact, when it's sunny, they really heat up, like 80 or 90 inside even though it's only 30 or 40 outside. I actually have two more in another part of the garden.

In a recent post I mentioned our cra-a-a-a-azy weather last week. The craziness was preceded by a couple of days of extreme windiness and torrential rain. Jenni from Rainy Day Gardener warned me that she had seen discussions of our coming bad weather on Facebook (I wasn't even aware of it). In the past on really windy days, those little greenhouses have toppled, even with something weighing down the bottom shelf (hence the pots of rocks). So I took all my trays of four-inch sown pots out of the greenhouses, and moved them under my hoophouse (which also gets quite nicely warm inside).

The hoophouse (you can see one of the seedling trays there on the left).
As I was transferring the trays to the hoophouse, I couldn't help noticing that quite a few were sprouting or had already sprouted.

These are all Echinacea purpurea, started from my own seeds gathered from last year's flowers.

I also did an entire tray of various kinds of lavender.

Salvia patens is a great Salvia with big blue flowers. I grew it a couple of years ago from seed, and saved more from it to sow this year.

I don't know if I have a photo of Salvia patens in my iPhoto archive, but you can read up on it here on Plant Lust.

The Joe-Pye Weed seeds were bought. I really should save seeds from my 'Little Joe' this year.

The Eryngium 'Blue Hobbit' seeds came from my own garden.

'Jade Frost' came from my garden as well.

And the Astrantia seeds too. I'm not exactly sure which Astrantia it is, but they are pretty pink flowers about a foot or so tall.

I sowed a couple of different Asclepias (Milkweed), this is the only one that is starting to sprout

I'm glad to see Catananche caerulea sprouting, another pretty blue flower, with interesting papery seedpods.

Linum lewisii (Blue Flax) is a pretty native with blue flowers.

None of them have true leaves yet, but it won't be long! I still have loads of annuals that I want to grow this year, but I've been waiting on those for a bit. My plan is to sow them in place in the garden, so they will need the weather to warm up just a bit. It looks like next week will be making up for last week, we are slated to get a string of sunny days with temps in the 50s and maybe even 60s!


  1. You've got lots started! I'm getting ready to start some soon. I bought one of those greenhouses this year and can't wait to use it.

  2. Hi Alison, you are very far ahead of me. My seeds are still sitting in their ham container, waiting. Wind can be so destructive, especially to flats of seedlings. I'm glad you've had such good luck with the small greenhouses. I have one small greenhouse too, but our temperatures fluctuate from one extreme to another too much, I think, and germination was always unpredictable. Setting up our big hoop house is a lot of work, but with Carl's heating system keeping the flats warm, I've had much better luck. However, it will be weeks before we can melt enough snow to reach the building.

    In the meantime, I'm enjoying seeing the miraculous sprouts you've shared in this post.

  3. Wow, you're amazing! That's a lot of seeds.

  4. It looks like you had a pretty good success rate. You could start your own garden center. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Wow, Alison! Tell me please, when is your plant sale!

  6. That's a lot of seeds! I'm so impressed. I don't have a greenhouse, but I keep nagging - I mean telling - my husband that I need one! :)

  7. Oh...are you growing Joe Pie weed, and Cupids Dart?

    It's just too cold here to start seeds, and that's in the house, lol.

    I have a little Joe Pie eager to meet it. And I have one plant of Cupids dart, I hope it made it through the winter.

    Best of luck with your seed starting.


  8. You must be thrilled with all of those seeds sprouting, you will have so many lovely plants to play with. It is nice that you can use your green houses..We bought a small walk-in one and the wind blew it over and everything was ruined..We then bought another new cover for it and my hubby did quite a lovely job of anchoring it down. We believed it would never blow over now! Hahahaha..We learned the wind here is wicked, with cyclonic effects at times. Needless to say, we no longer have the little greenhouse.
    It will be nice to see how all of your things turn out later in the Spring..Have fun! xo

  9. Wow, look at them grow! Salvia patens was one of those that wowed me on my first trip to the Pacific Northwest. It's a gorgeous plant but it does NOT like my corner of Katy ... I brought one home from Seattle in 2011 and it languished through August, then expired from the heat and humidity!

  10. What a lush garden you will have!

  11. Look at you! What an impressive operation! I seldom start seeds inside anymore but plant some things directly in the soil outside.

  12. Wow. And none of your seedlings are long and top-heavy. They're close to the soil which means they're getting plenty of light. I'm very impressed. I'm glad you survived the freak storm and your babies did too. You are the sweet-sowing queen.

  13. How wonderful to have all of those little plants growing! I love that hoop house! One of these days, we will get around to making one.


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