Gatehouse Globe Thistle
Gatehouse seed packing
for winter-spring planting.
Gatehouse shed on
Squaw Bay Road, Shaw Island.
Most of our seeds are started on a heat table in an unheated greenhouse. Hardy perennials are started at the end of January but I wait until the end of March to sow my annual seeds. It does not help to start annuals too soon, most of them cannot be planted out until mid-May anyway.
I make up a general seed starting mix by screening 2-parts potting soil and 1-part peat moss through a 3/4inch screen. I fill 4-inch plastic pots with the mixture. Since different seeds vary in their germination time it is better to have them in separate pots rather than several in one large tray. After filling the pots compress the soil a bit and then water until the soil is soaked through. This creates a smooth and even surface on which to sprinkle the seeds.
The general rule of thumb for seed sowing is to cover the seed with a layer of soil the thickness of the seed. Big seeds like cardoon get a good 3/8-inch of soil cover. Fine seeds get about 1/8-inch. I water the seeds gently after sowing and put them in the greenhouse on the heat table. A good temperature for germinating most seeds is 70 degrees. Small propagating mats are available at Charley's Greenhouse.
When the seedlings have developed their first set of true leaves they are transplanted into their own 4-inch pots. If they are to go into the garden within a couple of weeks they can go into six-pack pots.
I always have a surplus of plants that I have grown from seed. How could something so huge come from such a little pack of seed? Do I really need all those plants? It is the lure of all those plants in January that is so irresistible. I guess this is the point at which people end up starting their own nurseries. Well, Molbaks can rest easy, I am not planning on quitting my day job.
Courtesy of The Social Gardner
The Journal of the Whatcom Horticultural Society
Vol. 10.No.1 Spring 1998. Verbatim.