Fun With Seeds 2010

When the month of January rolls around, after the holiday hubbub, a gardeners thoughts turn to…what else but gardening. But little in the way of growth is happening outside, even on warmer days so another head turn (no we are not Linda Blair) takes us into the sunroom/greenhouse, home of Fun With Seeds.
(Seedling of Sanguisorba tenuifolia)

Last year lights and heat mats were added to the system.
(Seedling of Dahlia ‘Bishop’s Children)

With good results. So good that several seeds were started well before the holidays this year, to get a head start.
(Seedling daylilies and Salvia transsylvanica, ignore the Phlomis tag, it hasn’t germinated. Yet.)

Some were started more recently.
(Newborn Hyssop officinalis)

Fun with seeds entails record keeping here at the Fairegarden, because we love that kind of thing. Dates and names, success or failure is duly noted. The oldest seed starting records found were from 1989. Interesting. Yes, no, came up, no it didn’t. It seems that someone not only talks to themselves, they write notes and sass back to themselves.

It is nearing time for the big seed exchange put on by Monica the Garden Faerie. You may click here to get the details about how to sign up. Do join in by emailing her at gardenfaerie02 at yahoo dot com, but hurry, she is cutting off after January 8! (Sorry, US only due to massive paperwork required to go outside the country, but maybe you could organize something in your own area :-)). Last year was the first time we have ever participated in such an endeavor, and it was all good. One thing learned was that the store bought envelopes are just as desirable as home made for packaging the seeds, especially when the numbers of them start to add up. This year we bought a box of 3 x 5 size at the office supply big box, similar in size to professional seed packets that will fit into the sorting box used here to store seeds until planting time well. Added: Since this post was written without conferring with Monica ahead of time, Impulsive, thy name is Frances!, might it be suggested if you cannot get it together to join in by the cutoff date, or her lists are already full, that you start something like this yourself among your friends and family. Just an idea.

There are seeds that have been saved from the garden to share, Redbor Kale.

More, Chinese Trumpet Lily ‘Regale’.

And more, our own special nature made cross of marigolds, Taegetes ‘Queen Sophia’ x ‘Tiger Eye’, among others.

There are leftovers from last year. All will be repackaged for the exchange, something for everyone!

This is the third posting of fun with seeds. To read last year’s story click here-Serious About Seeds-Still Fun. The photos from the first year of seed posting, 2008, are recirculating as a slide show, along with other odd shots on The Financier’s computer screen. To see the post click here-Fun With Seeds. When this particular shot appears, guests never fail to question what the heck is the NO! sign about. When I am alone and this shot bubbles up, it illicits a chuckle from the lazyboy, every single time. It never gets old.

Are you now, have you ever, or do you plan to have fun with seeds?


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36 Responses to Fun With Seeds 2010

  1. Hi Frances

    It’s that time of year already!!!

    You are massively organised.

    I’m growing some perennials from seed this year and will move them to a ‘holding’ bed out the back, see how posh I’ve become.

    Those seed packets, there should be an international judging competition for the most beautiful one. Some are veritable works of art.

    I look forward to progress updates sometime perhaps.


    Hi Rob, thanks. We normally start our seeds way too early every single year, then run into trouble when they are too large and it is still too cold to plant them out. It is our method. I keep thinking of a holding bed, using the old glass shower doors leftover from the house renovation in some way. Last year the shower doors were not enough to keep the seedlings from being frozen to death however. The seed packets are wonderful, as you can tell, we like to spread the wealth. πŸ™‚

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Linda, I mean Frances, I love seeds yet I don’t do enough with them. I am doing the seed exchange too. I am going to be shamed into getting the new bed I want prepared and making a go of a cutting garden this year.

    HA Lisa, thanks. I knew you would comment about that one. Seeds are so fun, I love handling the packets, organizing them and dreaming of what they could become. Our success rate is dismally low, but it doesn’t matter. Even one success makes the whole enterprise worthwhile, getting us through the winter. A cutting garden sounds perfect! πŸ™‚

  3. Good Morning, Frances. I am working out my seed orders this morning, although I did get a bit impatient for spring and started some seeds for Sweet William, Northern Sea Oats Grass, Gomphrena, and Euphorbia characias. I haven’t participated in the seed exchange, but it sounds like great fun!!

    Hi Liisa, thanks for stopping by. Fooling around with the seed catalogs, the packets and the saved seeds is a fun endeavor on cold wintry days. If you can get something growing too, that is just gravy! Do contact Monica to sign up, it is fun and worthwhile to share what you have and get some cool things to boot! πŸ™‚

  4. Janet says:

    Sharing seeds with others is really nice. I am limiting my seed accumulation this year since we are moving. The gardens in SC will be more shaded than what I have now –and trying to move with seeds….I would lose track and find them a year or two down the road. NEXT YEAR!!!

    Hi Janet, thanks. I think you have enough on your plate with the move and house building! It will be great to start some seeds next year, be sure and allow a nice sunny spot for it. πŸ™‚

  5. Sweet Bay says:

    The leaf of that first plant you pictured is beautiful. You’re way ahead of me with the seeds. I’m just putting some seeds in the fridge to stratify this week. I wish I would keep records the way you do!

    Thanks Sweet Bay. I am not sure why the Sanguisorba is changing colors now, as though it were fall or something, but thought it pretty. We started early with perennials, in hopes of bigger stronger plants in spring. The annuals will be started later, most in the ground rather than inside using up precious space inside. If they can be found at nurseries, I know pretty much what Ruth will have at Mouse Creek, no need fooling with them here. As for the records, I am a trained accountant, born to the task of record keeping. It gives me pleasure. πŸ™‚

  6. tina says:

    Gosh that first seedling is most beautiful. I can imagine it in the garden. You are just too organized-a really good thing to be. I’ll be starting seeds soon. I got a new greenhouse for Christmas and hopefully when we thaw out we can put it up. I’m so excited too as last year’s seed swap brought a bunch of nice seeds. Your kale looks fabulous btw. The chard seeds you sent me are still going strong in the garden. Simply love chard now!

    Glad I could ID your mahonia. It is a nice plant despite being a bit prolific as you can tell from your woods. Smells nice too.

    Hi Tina, thanks. We were on a Sanguisorba thing last year, adding a few purchased plants here and there, all mail ordered and tiny. Seeds give so many more plants for cheap, but the fancy varieties were not available. We’ll see how they even grow here before adding more. Your new greenhouse sounds sweet! Chard is a winner, we have none at the moment, but will fix that soon enough. Love the mahonia! πŸ™‚

  7. Hi Frances, ooh, a preview of what might be coming back to me (rubs hands in anticipation). I, too, keep track of what I sow each year, and have a want list, too. πŸ™‚ I also track what dates I sowed and when they emerge (which is fun for winter sowing because people always have questions about it).

    I have enough seeds to start two rounds, and I have open slots for one or two more people in each round.


    Hi Monica, thanks for doing this. So sorry for not contacting you ahead of time. Sometimes, I shake my head at myself, what was she thinking. But I meant well. πŸ™‚

    No probs, it’s all good! As I said, it’s nice to have other people excited, and maybe even encourage someone to start sowing!

    Yes, it is good to get others to think about fun with seeds. Such a cheap way to garden.

  8. Jen says:

    Thanks, Frances. I needed a little prod today to start organizing myself. Problem is, I don’t think I’m organized enough to share seeds. I can barely get any saved. But I’m working on it! I may start a few in our school greenhouse soon. (I tried starting some in my closet under a flourescent light last year – a huge failure)

    Thanks Jen. Doing the seed swap helps give us a boost, a deadline that makes us get off the lazyboy! Remember, failures are for learning. πŸ™‚

  9. Joanne says:

    Hi Frances Happy New Year. You are way ahead of me here mine are still tucked uo in the drawer in old envelopes and some in plastic pots in my glass cabinet what a good place that has proved to be, they never did get into envelopes but at least I remembered to stick names on them. Third week in february I start sowing my seeds so will need to buy a few vege ones before then.

    Thanks Joanne and the same good wishes back to you and yours. I have arranged the seed packets by month they should be started, most of them outside. We’ll see how that works, when things start to heat up around here, both in temp and in activity. I have been better about sticking a tag in the container when the stems are harvested and put into the shed to dry. Thinking that I’ll know what is what has not proven to be true. πŸ™‚

  10. Teresa O says:

    While I’ve started seeds indoors, I’ve never collected my own. When it comes to flowers, I’m a deadheader, nipping off spent flowers, cutting them for bouquets or drying leaving very little behind. Someday I must try my hand at saving my own seeds. The seed exhange looks like great fun.

    Hi Teresa, thanks for stopping by. We don’t do any deadheading, although maybe we should, and the last couple of years the seeds have left for the birds and to self sow out in the garden. There is way too much here for that detailed type of tending. Plus, we are lazy. πŸ™‚

  11. And, again (there’s an award for most comments on one post, right?!–HA!), are your coin envelopes really orange (my fav color) or that manilla color and my monitor is incorrectly calibrated?! πŸ™‚ (Seriously.)

    HA Monica, of course there are awards for everything, right! The envelope is not manilla, sort of a dark goldey orange, but not necessarily the color shown. The tablecloth under the plastic is not blue, but a linen color, so who knows what the camera was thinking. πŸ˜‰

  12. Kiki says:

    Fantastic post Frances! Great photos too! It is all so exciting isn’t it!!It is amazing to look forward to the new worlds waiting in every seed!

    Thanks Kiki. Seeds are very exciting, and almost real gardening, indoors anyway. Lots to look forward to, for sure. πŸ™‚

  13. Gloria Bonde says:

    I sort of saved some “winter squash” seeds. A plant sprouted in my compost pile which I carefully nutured. It turned out to be a spaghetti squash with the coloring of a zuchinni. The birds and bees were busy in my garden. πŸ™‚ Gloria

    Hi Gloria, thanks for visiting and welcome. Your squash sounds wonderful, and unique! We also grew some winter squash in the compost pile, blue and green pumpkins leftover from fall decor. Too fun, isn’t it? πŸ™‚

  14. Autumn Belle says:

    I tend to liken planting from seeds to having a baby by getting pregnant first and using seedlings is like adopting the children. Seeing the seeds germinate is like witnessing the birth of life, it can be so touchy-touchy.

    Seed swapping among gardeners sounds like fun. Good luck!

    Thanks Autumn Belle. It is gratifying when those seeds erupt, both inside and out. But there are often failures and I am not at all averse to buying seedlings when they are available. I am lazy. πŸ™‚

  15. Catherine says:

    I have my seed order started but need to get it mailed in soon. It’s fun to start thinking about planting seeds. You’re several steps ahead of me with your seedlings started before the holidays.

    HA Catherine, thanks. I am bad about jumping the gun, on everything (born a Sooner, you see). It is easier to start some seeds when the temps are still warmer inside the greenhouse, no need for the heat mat then. Some seeds do better in the cooler winter. The salvias like it warm, and I love all salvias. There are plenty of failures, they don’t get a photo shown. πŸ™‚

  16. Gorgeous shot of the first seedling! Native California plants are sometimes difficult. I’m getting no or patchy germination so far – your seedlings look very vigorous. Interesting to see how you track your seeds – I’m still working out my method. I wonder if there is a software package for propagators! I have a nice little pack of Madrone seeds prepped and ready to go. A bit hard to get them free of their berries. I’m totally hooked on all this! Not sure if I’m ready to share yet – I have to improve my collecting skills. And I would only take local native seeds from people in my immediate vicinity because I’m all about local natives. Have fun, all you gardeners into other sorts of seeds!

    Thanks, Country Mouse. I understand completely the need for you to have local natives. Our garden is different than that, but we are leaning towards natives by allowing what used to be pulled as weeds to grow along with the other stuff. Our main seed endeavors involve leaving the plants to stand over winter with no deadheading. Many will self sow, making life easier for us and them. πŸ˜‰

  17. Hilarious, that last part. As if he would deny you anything. Have fun going through the catalogs and collecting. I’m just not in the mood yet. Perhaps, it’s all the snow. πŸ™‚ ~~Dee

    Thanks Dee. You are wise to wait, I always am too far ahead and run into serious trouble come about April 1st when the seedlings are huge and the weather is still iffy. Can’t help it. πŸ™‚

  18. Kate says:

    Oh, what fun. I would love to get involved though the only thing I could share that might grow east of the Mississippi might be tomaters. I’ll pay her a visit and thanks for the tip. We’ll be starting our first seeds in just a few weeks. Can’t wait!!

    Thanks for stopping by, Kate. Maybe a seed swap with other bloggers from your area would be better? Either case, seeds are too much fun. And cheap. πŸ™‚

  19. Rose says:

    Ooh, I do hope I’m down on the list so that I get the packet after you have made your contributions, Frances! Looks like you are off to a great start with seeds this year–that first photo is a beauty! I probably won’t start any seeds till March; each year I learn a little more from my previous mistakes. But I think the spare bedroom may be full of seedlings in a few months.

    Hi Rose, thanks. I told Monica to put me high up on the list because I had a lot of seeds to share so that should make sure everybody gets some. We all learn from the mistakes, and with seeds I have plenty of failures, lots that never germinate for whatever reason. I still have some in pots that were sown last year, hope lives. πŸ™‚

  20. Willow says:

    I guess we are thinking alike. I have been looking at my seed catalogs too. I can’t wait to get started.

    Hi Willow, thanks for stopping by. It is the time to think about seeds, such a pleasant thought it is, too! πŸ™‚

  21. Darla says:

    Oh you know I’ll be playing with seeds…Just tossed some in the garden a couple of weeks ago…..Fun, fun, fun!!

    Hi Darla, oh yes, you are a magician with seeds! I have yours in the filing system by month to sow outside. They do just as well, if not better out there. Thanks again. πŸ™‚

    Yesmam, sow directly in the garden is best. Our sprinkler does not freeze as long as the water is moving….I love it when he makes these for me….thanks for thinking of me for seeds. I have sent so many seeds out already, probably will not join this seed swap. Thanks for the info though..smiles.

    You are more than generous, Darla. The sprinkler art is amazing, so full of enchanting shapes. He is a keeper! πŸ™‚

  22. Cinj says:

    My fun with seeds is still a way off yet, but I’m working on getting started. I love winter projects. I sure hope my seedlings survive this time around…

    Hi Cindy, thanks for stopping by. I hope your seeds make it this time too. I have lots of losses, more than successes actually, just don’t show them. πŸ™‚

  23. Gail says:

    πŸ˜‰ xxoogail

    Hey there, Gail, nice to see you. Do take it easy now. πŸ™‚

  24. Kathleen says:

    Aahhh, somehow I knew you’d already be knee-deep in seedlings Frances! I remember you went great guns last year. I plan to have some fun with those teeny little devils too but not anytime soon. I need to wait quite a bit longer so as not to get ahead of myself. Good luck germinating the phlomis. I started that same one from seed 7 years ago and only got one to germinate. I babied that plant (similar to my primula veris) and it still resides in my garden today. Very well behaved plant. I have my sights on P, russeliana now…. Love seeing your lists. πŸ™‚ Have fun with the seed exchange.

    Hi Kathleen, thanks. I always get ahead of myself, it is my M.O. The Phlomis is doing nothing, nada, zip. In fact it was today put into a ziplock bag and into the unheated stairway for a chill. Sometimes that helps. Glad to hear you have at least one, I would be happy with that, but would love the russel better. It is not supposed to grow here anyway, all conditions are wrong. Why do they keep teasing me with it in these publications! HA πŸ˜‰

  25. Great post, Frances. I know everyone that participates will have a wonderful time! I’m going to just put out my little mini-greenhouses (milk jugs) very soon. They’ll have seedlings by Spring. πŸ™‚

    Thanks Shady. I want to try that winter sowing, even got Monica’s book about it. Must find it now. πŸ™‚

  26. Lola says:

    Wow Frances, that’s a lot of seeds. I think that is the way to go also. I’ve already received my first catalog for seeds/plants. Daydreams are in for now as it’s really cold here. I heard there may be flurries tomorrow.
    So stay warm.
    I hope you have a great New Year.

    Hi Lola, thanks and the same back to you, especially the stay warm part! Seeds are so fun, so cheap and so full of promise. Dream fodder. πŸ™‚

  27. Jean says:

    I plan to have fun with seeds…someday. Actually, I’ve fooled around with them occasionally but the reality of what I get never matches my fantasies. So I rarely get around to it. Your seedlings however, look very beautiful and make me want to plunge ahead. I just don’t know if I want the disappointment again. πŸ™‚

    Oh Jean, the reality never matches the dreams, ever. But that’s not the point of it, to me anyway. Even one tiny success of a plant that grows and thrives in the garden that began as a dream while gazing at seed catalogs makes the whole enterprise worthwhile. Fear of failure is a throttle on the gas pedal of life. My, how profound. HA πŸ™‚

  28. VW says:

    Wow, your setup is great, Frances. I ordered a bunch of seeds from Diane’s Seeds, even though I didn’t really have places for any of them. I’m currently planning to share them with local friends and enjoy them in their gardens. My to do list is so long for this month that I won’t join in the online exchange, but that’s so admirable of Monica. Someday! I saved seeds from physostegia ‘Miss Manners’ and they look good, but I bagged the double cosmos seeds before they were dry and mold got to them. Oops. Have fun with yours.

    Hi VW thanks. We would never have enough room if all the seeds saved, ordered and exchanged came up! HA The plastic bag of moldy seeds is a yucky mess. We dry them in cardboard boxes or paper shopping bags in the shed before packing them up. Paper envelopes are better than plastic too, the tiniest bit of moisture can ruin them, as you well know.

  29. Meredith says:

    That first seedling is so lovely, but I also like the baby dahlia’s foliage. I do play with seeds, and I’m getting better at it. Almost everything in the spring garden I will have grown directly from seed this year, if all goes as planned.

    Because of limited space, I only save seeds of certain varieties (okra, squash, beans, some flowering vines), and I paid special attention this year to keeping my family heirloom half-runner bean seed alive. Due to a combination of factors, it had nearly gone extinct. 😦 I am the only grandchild to have inherited the passion for growing things, apparently, and so my granddaddy passed it on to me.

    I have jars of it now, ready to carry on, which makes me very happy. πŸ™‚

    Hi Meredith, my how much you look like M.E.! HA I love the story of your runner beans, good for you getting the gardening gene! πŸ™‚

  30. Frances, I used to love starting my own seeds. However I am now dividing my time among two houses and do not have enough sapce in my condo in Toronto, and am not up at Kilbourne Grove often enough for the watering requirements. I think that I will have to wait until I retire, than look out!

    Hi Deborah, thanks for stopping by. I don’t know how you do it, going back and forth between places. Maybe just throw out some seeds when the ground warms in a neglected spot at Kilbourne and hope for the best. Or not. πŸ™‚

  31. Wonderful post Frances! Alas I am not doing much with seeds this year. When I first started my garden I grew all of my plants from seeds. Now with the tenacious bishops weed (which I did not start but inherited here) small seedlings do not last in my garden. I have to buy large plants and mostly tall thugs or shrubs. I love seeing your little seedlings bursting from the soil. Beautiful photos as always! Carol

    Thanks Carol. Is that the same plant that Jodi calls goutweed? It must be terrible to eradicate, doesn’t play well with others it seems. The baby plants are quite delicate when young and placement is important to allow them to grow. We have a problem finding such a place too, with the wild place that our garden has become, on purpose for easier maintenance. That bare veggie garden is very promising though. Too bad, food crops. πŸ™‚

  32. Deirdre says:

    I don’t buy from Burpee’s after what they did to Heronswood.

    Hi Deirdre, thanks for visiting and welcome. That is exactly what that NO sign means, written about in the post from 2008. I agree with you completely, and even had a back and forth with George Ball in the comment section of a post by Zanthan Gardens that year. He didn’t change my thinking about it.

  33. Oh Frances, you’ve made my fingers itch – I want to start sowing seeds, but I’m going to have to wait another month or two. I will just have to keep flicking through the catalogues until then.

    I know, Happy, I just can’t ever wait until the right time and start a few things way early. Perennials are best started in the fall, that’s my excuse. πŸ™‚

  34. TC Conner says:

    I don’t fool with them till March. And find it hard to even think about when all you can see outside is white landscaping everywhere you look. (“A WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 6 AM EST SATURDAY”)

    Hi TC, you are smarter and more patient than I am. I need something to play with until March, when spring really starts showing here and I am outside every minute possible. We have that same winter storm warning here, it is quite cold and snow is on everything. Even more reason to have fun with seeds, inside that is. πŸ™‚

  35. LOL on the Linda Blair comment!

    I am intrigued by the second photo of the dahlia. Are your pots made from newspaper??

    Thanks Clementine, for getting the joke. The dahlias and some others are indeed planted in newspaper pots. I bought the pot maker last year and have sort of got the hang of making them now. I love the idea of it, just wish they were slightly larger.

  36. I have my impatient side, but there so many plants that I can’t get any other way than by growing them from seeds. But like you, I seem to end up with more seeds–and often, plants–than my little garden has space for.

    You have hit upon the exact best argument for seed starting, it is sometimes the only way we can get certain desirable plants, even if we end up with too many. Is there such a thing as too many? πŸ™‚

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