Satisfaction Starting Plants: yarrow, feverfew, nightshade, foxglove & more

I love growing plants from seed, especially when it’s successful.:) This year is working out pretty well along those lines. While it’s true that a number of seeds that needed cold stratification did not do well when transplanted into soil, others that I started directly in peat pellets or that needed warmth to germinate are doing quite well indeed. Here’s a snap of some flats. The one furthest left has “Sprinter” caraway, “Extrakta” sage, pyrethrum, Osmin basil duds, wild lettuce, sweet marjoram, “Proa” yarrow, and feverfew. The one below that contains the berry-yielding nightshades Wonderberry & Chichiquelite. Farthest to the right is a bunch of peppers and daturas. There are a number of other flats as well. Plenty is coming along well (and a few, like the basil, that are no-shows).  I was concerned that the foxglove species, of which I started nearly a full flat of 25, were duds. The seeds were all several years old. But they are indeed beginning to show now, although they are tiny. Whew! They are all species I have not grown before or have not had luck with starting except for some various white versions of Digitalis purpurea, the standard foxglove. I’ve got the perfect spot for foxgloves in the elbow of my house, where they’ll keep company with the ferns.

I’ve also begun potting up–five named varieties of Nicotiana rustica have now gone into pots, plus angelica, black nightshade species, and Nicandra physalodes “Splash of Cream.” I swear this time I will actually get some seeds off the Nicandra–third time’s the charm, right? This plant always grows weakly for me and so it does not seem worth harvesting the seeds (a weak plant will make weak seeds). This year I will baby it.

It is such a relief not to be growing a lot of veggies, especially nothing that needs transplanting. Although I am busy, I have enough time to get all these seeds started and potted up, and get the plants I bought potted up or in the ground. I received my fruit plants the other day, and they are all either in new bigger pots or in the ground, from the Black Velvet gooseberry to the blue elderberry. The peas are already climbing up the netting on the bamboo poles against the patio roof and the side fences, and I put up extra fencing for them to climb in the “way-back.” I’ve also had time to select plants that I will move out front so they can enjoy true full sun. The calendulas I started from seed are ready to go in the ground; only the fact that the next three days will be hot is holding me back from getting them in. When it goes back to our normal temps, I will put them in. This weekend I was able to till up the borders of the front and clear out all the weeds so it is totally ready for direct sowing of zinnias as well as transplanting of the various things I want to put up there. Now the echinaceas just need to get off their butts and put on some size. Their purple rayed flowers will go great, I think, with the orange rayed flowers of the calendulas. Hot!

Finally, I felt like this picture kind of captured my garden work. The flowering plant is a white heliotrope. I bought that because I wanted to see what the white version smelled like and thought maybe I could collect seeds from it; I haven’t grown heliotrope for years, so I don’t know. It smells pretty good, much better than the purple, which can smell like cheap Kool-Aid. It’s more like Tahitian vanilla, with that Cherry Coke quality. I like having it on the patio where I can get little whiffs of it while I work on plants. So that represents the aromatic plants I love to grow (although lots of the ones I grow are not fragrant flowers but aromatic leaves). And it also represents my seed collecting efforts from unusual varieties. Growing in the same pot, where it wasn’t supposed to be but just turned up and is obviously very happy, is a black mandrake. That poisonous and mysterious plant keeps coming up and encouraging me and nudging me towards working with it magically and spiritually and with other nightshades. So that one pot pretty much sums up my garden!

3 comments to Satisfaction Starting Plants: yarrow, feverfew, nightshade, foxglove & more

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