Saturday, May 9, 2020


One of my hopes for the new "norm" is a continuing, ongoing interest in backyard gardening be it in flowers, shrubs, or veggies.  Our responsibility as "furloughed" OSU Master Gardeners is to look around our neighborhood or communicate with our circle of friends and offer encouragement, even advice if asked.  Keep your eyes open to who is doing what and show interest and encouragement.

I think my seeding frenzy is almost over.  If I don't stop soon I will have to build another greenhouse.  My challenge with the "stay home" advice has been to experiment more with geminating perennials.  My experience so far leads me to believe that the nursery price we pay for perennials that are ready to burst into bloom is well worth it.  Perennial seeds, for the most part take more attention and patience.

In the March 28 blog I wrote of my beginning experiments.  I started with the ice cube cold stratification method for Eryngium, Sea Holly.  Of the 12 seeds, only 1 germinated and the plant growth is very slow.  It may be the cold treatment wasn't long enough - only a week - or the seeds had lost their viability from the 2019 harvest.  There was no germination in the second tray.  I do have another tray of seeded cubes that have been in the freezer for 1 month and I will try again.  In doing some research, the recommended process is to direct seed in the fall of the bloom season giving the seeds their natural cold stratification.

The herb, Winter Savory was started March 22 using seed starting mix,  heat mat and eventually the grow light.  Germination started a week later. The seedlings are very delicate and slow growing.  Germination was less than 50%.  I feel I missed a step along the way--more research needed.

At one point I put aside the perennial project and started the tomatoes.

On April 27 I planted a half flat of Ratibida, Mexican Hat, in seeding mix for germination in the greenhouse.  Covering was very light, just enough to keep the seeds in place as they need light to germinate.  The dried flower heads were still intact; I gently massaged the seeds off the dried flower heads.  I suppose you could call that scattering.  Germination time was listed as 2 weeks.  I had germination in 10 days.

The Echinacea, Purple Coneflower, seed packet was marked by me as expiring in 2020.  I used the Park Start plant plugs on the heat mat to germinate and will use the remainder of the seeds to direct sow when the time is right.  The seeds were started on April 27 and germinated on May 7.  Germination rate was very high.

I ordered Climbing Phoenix, an heirloom nasturtium from Renee's Garden .  There are 12 started in the Park Starts on April 27.    As of May 7, 2 have popped up with indications of 8 more not far behind.  I will direct sow another 12 to the garden when the time is right.

The Monarda fistulosa, Wild Bergamot, is also an extremely small seed.  I used the Park Starts but I fear they may gotten lost in the dark cavern of the plug.  They were seeded on April 27 and I don't see any signs of activity.  According to the research, they are a member of the mint family.  Care will have to be taken  as to where I plant if they do follow the family trait of uncontrolled spreading.  Also listed was a deer resistant characteristic  Let's hope!  Like other Monardas powdery mildew can be problematic.

The tomato variety list this year added up to 18 varieties.  Some are tried and true, others are being given a second chance and 2, the AAS selection Celano Grape and the other is a no-name, just a number from Seed & Such being trialed.

The results of the soaking of the garden peas prior to planting, in water and the mid-west tradition of milk resulted that the peas soaked in water germinated quicker and at a better rate.  That's not to say the mid-west tradition was wrong.  Rather, it lends itself to my thinking how milk has changed over the years.  I used my usual purchase of 2%.  My mother and her peers would have used the whole milk right off the farm delivered to the front door by Kells Dairy.  Makes you wonder.

Check out Gardening: Get Good at It "Composting" segment Tues. May 19 on KPOV 88.9 between 9-9:30 am.

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