Archive for March, 2011

Seeds and Canada Blooms

March 8, 2011

I’m sorry it has been a while since my last entry. I edit (meaning I write most of them) newsletters for 2 garden societies and they co-incided this month and life got a little away from me.

One of my seed starting delays has been the dilemma of where to put them. The dining room has a hot south-facing window which I use if there are just a few seeds to start, especially tomatos. The location is easy for me to check them so they don’t dry out. The directional light means the seedlings need to be turned regularly to keep them growing straight. The other choice is a light-stand in the basement. It is in the furnace room and I have to really think about going in there and watering plants. After the first week I usually remember and get a routine going. Now that I see how many seeds I’m planning to start, the light stand in the basement has won.

Lavender seeds are not difficult, but they do go through a sort of gangley stage and I find that is when I tend to lose them. They are not as solid as tomatoes either and when you are separating them, you have to handle them carefully.
Be aware that most varieties will not bloom the first year from seed. If you start L. a. ‘Lady’, sometimes called ‘Lavender Lady’ fairly soon, it may bloom this year. Most will bloom the second year.
Lavender hybridises quite easily and the plants you grow from seed will not be uniform in color. There will be light and dark purples so if you are looking for a specific color then purchase a plant in bloom.
Finally, L. x intermedias like ‘Grosso’ and ‘Provence’ are sterile and do not produce seeds. You will have to purchase plants.

You will need sterile seed-starting mix and clean containers. Seedlings are prone to a fungus, commonly called ‘damping off’. One day you have healthy seedlings and within a few days you have nothing. Starting with everything clean really helps. I’ll have more about ‘damping off’ next time.

Make sure there are drainage holes in the bottom of the container. Try not to use a container more than 4 -5″ tall. Otherwise, the soil at the bottom will stay too wet and increase the chance of disease with your seedlings. What about the seed-starting trays with the little compartments? I like those for my tomatoes and eggplants, in short, the larger seeds. They grow quickly, tend to be sturdy seedlings and grow roots that use up the water in the cell. They will also tolerate a little over-watering. For the smaller seeds I prefer to plant the seeds in a container with more surface area. This goes with delphinium seeds as well.
It is just me, but I think the water can be distributed uniformly and the seedlings have more of a chance if a little too much water goes in one part of the container. If you water the cells from above, you can easily know over the little seedlings. Now that I’m writing this, I think I will start some lavender in the cell pack and only water from below and see what happens. What is your experience?

Then just follow the directions on the seed package regarding depth of planting.

“Canada Blooms”, our premier garden show starts on Wednesday March 16th and concludes Sunday March 20. Last year the show moved to the “Direct Energy Center” which is all on one level and I preferred. Parking there is convenient and I like to pay the little extra and park underground. That way any shopping can be taken to the car. It is also very easy to get to via the GO Train, as there is a stop right at the building. Go to the http://www.CanadaBlooms.com and look under “festival information” for the speakers’ list.

I make the trek downtown several times and plan my visits to the show around the speakers. Then I have my favorite shopping stops (GardenImport usually has begonias and other bulbs a little off their catalogue price and you save the shipping.) If you need a special arbor or trellis, look for “Metalscape”. Doris will custom-make practically anything metal for your home or garden. She has made me a lovely small pergola-type structure that I originally needed for climbing miniature roses. The roses didn’t climb quite the way I had imagined, so it now cradles clematis. One of my friends came up with a design for a large metal hoop for clematis and Doris made them for us.

For those of us in Toronto, this show always tells us that spring is just around the corner. Yipee

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