Real Talk: Seed Starting

OOOH! It is 43 degrees outside. IN JANUARY! I don’t know about you, but for me once January 1st passes, a strange thing happens: the 15 day transformation of the house begins… taking it from a cozy, festive holiday haven to a 1. bright and airy space setup to drive the next growing season’s veggies, 2. a clean and prepped location for our new additions to the layer flock and meat birds to grow before moving outside, and (new this year) 3. an indoor/outdoor starting plan for my new hobby of growing both cut flowers and a wide variety of perennials for both the vase AND pollinators. I usually start mid-January on this annual switchover, so IT. IS. TIME!

And yes, I am one of ‘those’… the ones who leave up holiday decorations as long as possible so please don’t judge… I mean, some lit garland stays up year round! I just love the soft glow that fills our farmhouse from the twinkle lights 🙂

This year, I most certainly have a bigger than usual transformation. With a toddler now waddling about and growing vertically like a weed, I need to rethink just about every aspect of my seed starting. Germination and propagation USED to happen in the sunroom, on a large foldout table allowing all of my trays to soak in the sunlight for weeks until being tucked into the indoor greenhouse, settled in to grow out until April/May-ish when they then headed to harden off a week before transplanting.

Now? Little hands and stubborn independence has me second guessing this strategy. But the look on her face when she sees the blooms is priceless, so I press on. I hope to inspire her imagination with colorful blooms, sunflower and green bean teepees and her own garden bed to choose to grow what she wants starting this year!

I started my first tray yesterday. Early? For New England? OH YEP! But there is a good reason….SO I better figure this out soon!

This year, I am starting 8 varieties of poppies indoors early (to then transplant VERY early) as well as direct sowing a few of the same varieties as well as others this week into a perennial plot. It is warm enough to spread some top soil and seed outdoors… and I missed the window to fall seed these! Poppies are traditionally seeded outdoors to allow to enjoy a chilly few months over winter, as they require cold to aid in their germination and success.

The ones I just started indoors, will be in placed into the unheated greenhouse with lamps.

Part of what makes gardening so much fun is trying new things, challenging yourself to do better than the previous season… and well, those things also make the hobby/profession so dang frustrating sometimes!

I am super excited about the “Poppy Project” and wanted to share the varieties I am growing this year:

Amazing Grey

Lauren’s Grape

“The Giant”

Red Corn

Hens & Chickens

Cream Peony

Scarlet Peony

Black Peony

Watermelon Heaven

Thai Silk

I did seed start a few kinds last year, but only about 8 total plants. Man, I wanted more of these beauties! So this year, I’m going all in.

They are not an easy plant to grow. They are somewhat temperamental in terms of transplanting, but I did have success last year so here we are: 72 cells into a new flower hobby! LOL

Place a few of the tiny seeds gently on top of the seed starting mix, spray down with water to set them firmer into the soil, then dust the top with a fine layer of coir or vermiculite and wet with water spray again. Place greenhouse top on. Place entire tray on a heating pad in a warm location with some sun. Once you get the first little tendrils poking up, prop the lid and then move to unheated room with natural light or unheated greenhouse. Keep soil moist but NOT WET.

As I am at the very beginning of this project, expect more updates. If you are interested, next year I will be seed saving from this year’s harvests. Would you like to join our seed share initiative? Head over to the Contact Page and drop us a line!

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Happy growing!


3 Comments Add yours

  1. carolee says:

    How will you keep the poppies separated enough when they bloom to avoid cross-pollination? Those certainly are beautiful…esp. the Watermelon. I’ve grown breadseed poppies for years and love them, but hesitate to grows others the might ruin my pure seed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have beds all around our farm property so they will be planted away from each other to preserve purity. The Watermelon and Thai silk California’s will be more wild grown… but the rest will be as sequestered as possible. I only have 6-12 plants for each of the varieties (still new to this and learning which work and thrive here) and hope my plan and strategy works out. Last year I container grew my Lauren’s Grape and Giants and they did well. This year I wanted to go bigger :). It is a valid call out, and thank you! If I plan on selling seeds, purity will be very important. As will being forward with anyone in my seedshare. I am hoping the spacing I will have limits the possibility of cross pollination, though!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my gosh, the poppies are gorgeous. I grew some red ones last year and LOVED them. I need to get more varieties, like these!

    Liked by 1 person

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