Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Getting Ready for Spring

There is at least a foot of snow on the ground and it was snowing again this evening, but I've started to plant my seeds. And I will plant more in a few weeks. These pictures are from last year - I just wanted to give you an idea of the scope of what I do.

My husband has built me two large grow shelves in the basement - one is a standard bookshelf type, with fluorescent lights hanging from the bottom of the above shelf. The other is a very long , heavy, sturdy table (about 8 feet) with lights hanging from the rafters of the low ceiling. I use a cool bulb and a warm bulb in each fixture - I think they are the standard 36".

After years of trying different seed starting mixes, buying sheets of planting cells, repotting growing seedlings, I've finally come on a planting system that works well for me. I liked the Jiffy expanding pellets but they always seemed too small to hold a decent size rootball. Then I came upon the extra large size Jiffy pellet in the Harris Seed catalogue and it is fantastic. They expand to about 3 + inches and hold lots of roots and don't dry out as fast as the smaller ones. I just use the trays and clear plastic covers I got from years past and this is a wonderful system for me.

As you can see I like to have large transplants when it is time for hardening off and potting into permanent homes. Usually the plants are beginning to bloom and within a few weeks have filled out the pots and window boxes nicely.

I don't know if you can tell the plants by the pictures, but there are petunias, geraniums, impatiens, and salvia. Actually, there are many others besides these good- old stand-bys. I tend to be a person of excess - when I love something- and this year I counted 15 different colors and varieties of petunia seeds that I've sent for. Actually some are from last year, but I think this will be the "year of the petunia" in our yard.
The summers here in Wisconsin have obviously become hotter and dryer and petunias still do fantastic in nearly every situation. And there are so many different types that are offered. The Wave series, the Daddys, the Morns, the Avalanches, the Doubles are all favorites! And the colors are too numerous to go in to.

They smell sweet and the insects and hummingbirds like them too. I planted some heirloom petunias a number of years ago and they grow very tall and leggy, but have the most fantastic scent and reseed every year in wonderful and surprising spots. It is quite unusual for a petunia to reseed here in the northern states so I'm always happy to see them.
When I first began to garden, like a lot of beginners, I turned my nose up at the boring petunia - seen in soooooo many places. Now, as the years go by, I've really acquired a healthy appreciation for its reliability and beauty. Many of the scores of plants I've experimented with are now memories, but the" lowly" petunia will always be one of my favorites.
Next time I write about my rather extensive - others would say excessive - gardening adventures I'll tell you about some other favorites that rank right up there with the petunia.

Bye for now,

1 comment:

Lizzie A said...

Thank you for what you said in your comment on my blog. It is good to hear it, no matter if I know the person or not. I wish you a happy day and a happy week which has just started today!