So, I’ll be the first one to admit it – I never feel like I’ll be that “perfect” person. If you follow any other flower farmers (or a lot of bloggers) online, I think it is likely that you know what I mean. The photos are beautiful, the flowers are beautiful, their skin looks flawless in photos – everything is so carefully edited, curated, and crafted that it makes you hate yourself and want to quit. I’ve been there, a lot.
In addition to the artfully out of focus images, even the information is just vague enough to make you think that this person must surely be some kind of super amazing garden goddess or something. I’ll never be that.
You are no more or no less than any other person. The garden in my crappy backyard is just as beautiful as yours. Just because I find used heroin needles in my flower bed, doesn’t make you better than me. Those sunflowers behind the liquor store, those are mine – and they are one of the few things that inspire me to keep going. Don’t you dare tell me that I shouldn’t grow something because “these flowers aren’t for beginners”. The thing is – even if I fail a million times, I’ll try again. There isn’t another option.
At the end of the day – we’re all just sticking plants into the ground. It’s not exactly rocket science.
It’s that time again – time to start thinking about winter sowing! Hooray! I’m so excited!
In the past, I’ve only winter sowed using milk jugs and other containers. Last year, I ended up with well over 200 bottles sitting in the backyard – it was a complete mess! This year, I’ve decided to try something a little different. Instead of milk jugs, I’ll be using seed starting trays and a small low tunnel covered in plastic. Even though I’ve never seen anyone do this before, my gardening instinct tells me that this method will also be successful. Sometime next week, I hope to post about my seed starting set up in more detail. For now, I just wanted to quickly show some of the seeds that I have started to sow.
This year, I’m experimenting with growing artichokes again. I’m trying to winter sow them, and hoping that the warmer than usual temperatures will trigger the seeds to germinate. In general, I wouldn’t recommend winter sowing them because the seeds tend to rot when they’re wet and cold. I had a few seeds left in my packet, so I couldn’t resist sowing them and trying to get a bloom. It seems almost impossible to grow artichokes here in zone 6. You’ll also notice that I used the soil blocker. I really like soil blockers, but honestly, I find them to be way too time consuming. I’m only one person, and I don’t have a “farm crew” working for me. For me, I think I’m going to stick to just sowing in trays without the blocks. I hope that makes sense –
I also started some more scabiosa seeds for the spring. This season I just ordered a packet of mixed color seeds from Johnny’s. I consider scabiosa to be a hardy annual flower, because they will overwinter in my garden with protection from a fall planting. If anyone missed the fall planting window or are growing them for the first time, the seeds definitely respond well to the winter sowing method. I’m not sure whether they actually need cold stratification, but in this case, nature will take care of that naturally. I always tend to surface sow these seeds, making sure that they come into good contact with the soil.
I also started some garbanzo bean seeds in a tray this winter. I attempted to grow garbanzo beans last year, and was marginally successful. Much like pea seeds, garbanzo beans really seem to enjoy cooler temperatures, and need as much growth time in the spring as possible. The plants’ foliage looks very pretty and the purple flowers are somewhat unique – originally I wanted to grow them for cut flowers. Of course, you can harvest the chickpeas when the time is right. Hopefully my plants will mature this coming season.
Early winter is also the perfect time to start winter sowing perennial flower seeds. A lot of perennial flowers can be really difficult to grow from seed due to their germination requirements. The great thing about winter sowing is that (in most cases) these requirements are naturally met. I’m sowing a couple different types of perennial flowers this year including echinacea. Since I’ve never tried to winter sow purple coneflowers before, I’m really excited to see whether or not I’ll be successful.
I’m also sowing quite a bit of lavender from seed. Lavender is notoriously tricky to start from seed, but I’ve had great results with winter sowing it. Last year, I sowed a small package of 14 lavender seeds. Of those, 10 germinated! I planted the seedlings into the garden, but I accidentally pulled them out with the weeds sometime during the summer.
Last, but not least, I started a tray filled with celery and celeriac. I really like trying new things, and this year is no exception. I’ve grown celery in the past with some success, but I’m determined to keep the garden bed free of weeds this year!
That’s all for this post, but there is definitely more seed starting to be done. I’ll be sure to update the blog as the season progresses. Thank you so much for taking the time to read the blog. It really means a lot. I hope you’re having a great day!
Luckily, I was finally able to finish planting the hardy annual cut flower seedlings into the hoophouse. Though most of these flowers are annuals, I did include some biennial flowers under cover, as well. Here’s hoping for a beautiful spring and summer.
I’ve had a long and troubled relationship with snapdragons. Snapdragons have always been one of those flowers that just wouldn’t grow the way I wanted. I’ve seen those “real” flower farms, with rows and rows of tall snapdragons – I wanted that! Over the last four or five seasons, I had tried virtually everything I could think of to grow the best snapdragons possible.
I tried sowing snapdragon seeds indoors. While this method does work for many people – especially those with green thumbs – it doesn’t work for me. I don’t own grow lights, and without them, the seedlings will look sad…and terrible. Eventually, I lost off of my seedlings to dampening off.
Next, I tried winter sowing the snapdragon seeds. Winter sowing was my first step in the right direction. If you’re unfamiliar with winter sowing, I’ve got many videos and blog posts about it. I definitely suggest checking it out, as it totally changed the way in which I garden. The winter sown snapdragons grew to fairly nice sizes. In fact, it was the first time that I had plants that were big enough to use in flower arrangements. The main issue with winter sowing seemed to be directly related to the fact that my summer time temperatures heat up so quickly. The snapdragons did not seem to like that.
In the past, I’ve also tried planting in the fall. A sowing in September seemed to do ridiculously well, that is, until the cold weather arrived. When the cold winter temperatures finally set it, I simply couldn’t get the snapdragons to overwinter without protection. Which brings us to success –
Here in my zone 6b/7 garden, in order to grow beautiful snapdragons that have tall and strong stems, I have to overwinter them with the assistance of a low tunnel or unheated hoophouse. On a small scale (in the home garden), this task can also be accomplished by using old milk jugs or soda bottles to make mini greenhouses for flower beds.
To plant snapdragons, I start the seeds outdoors using seed starting trays at the end of September or into the beginner of October. This, of course, will vary depending upon where you live. In general, I like to start them around 4-6 weeks before my first frost date. While you’ll hear some people say that snapdragon seeds do not need cold stratification. I always put the seed packet into the fridge for about one week before planting. For me, this seems to greatly improve the germination rate. Just make sure to keep them out of reach of kids or anyone else that might get into them.
After the seeds have germinated, I let them grow on in their seed trays until they have several true leaves. Once this happens, I transplant the seedlings into the hoophouse or low tunnel. On exceptionally cold nights, below about 28F, I always add an additional row cover to the plants – just to make sure that everything stays frost free.
The snapdragons will require little care until the weather begins to warm in the spring. Once that happens, it’ll be important that I make weeding a priority, as snapdragons seem like they really can’t compete with the weeds in my yard. Other than that, here’s hoping to have some really wonderful snapdragons!
Have you ever grown snapdragons? Do you have any tips or tricks? I would love to hear all about them in the comments below! I hope you’re having a wonderful day!
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