Saturday, December 29, 2007

Starting Seeds Already

The new year has begun early!

With the help of my two assistants, I planted the first seeds for the 2008 garden. All three of us had thoroughly dirty hands. Like all things in my garden, this project was done on the cheap - I mean "frugally." All seeds were collected from the garden or from natural areas (with permission, of course.) The starting pots are the bottoms of 1 gallon milk jugs, cut off and perforated on the bottom. The terraria are birthday cake holders. (We make our own cakes from scratch. Once you have made your own frosting, there is no going back. Mmmmm. The cake containers were left over from my mother-in-law who rarely makes cakes from scratch.) The heater for the terraria are vents in the floor. I am trying germinating in mineral soil this year: a mix of sand and a rich clay-loam. Last year I had serious issues with rot or drought in the in Miracle Grow stuff.

I planted prairie smoke (pictured,) cup plant, red milkweed, American bittersweet, wafer ash, little bluestem, and golden alexanders. Everything but the prairie smoke will be put outside to "stratify." The seeds need about a month of being damp and freezing before they can be fooled into thinking it is spring and time to germinate and grow. Technically, little bluestem does not need the stratification, but is planted in the same pot as the golden alexanders.

Once the seedlings germinate, I plan to prick them out into individual cells. I know that January is a bit early to start plants indoors, but it is snowy outside and I have not had dirt under my fingernails in weeks. The kids enjoyed the projects (dirt everywhere!) tho Gerrit did insist on poking holes 1 inch deep. I had to explain that flower seeds are only planted at a depth of twice the seeds' size. Since these seeds are tiny, we just scrape the surface.

Stop by in a week or so for pictures of baby prairie smoke. More baby pictures in five to six weeks (after startification) for the other species. I really hope the wafer ash take. It is not a real "ash" tree, but rather Michigan's only native citrus.

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