Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sow what now?

OK all you gardeners ....

Is it too late to start seeds indoors? When I had wanted to start seeds indoors it was the height of the flood. Now I'm about 3 weeks behind and wondering if it's even worth it.

Typically, it's not safe to plant seeds (or any potted plants) until AT LEAST Mother's Day around here (Chris from ND can vouch for this). Some years, it's not safe until Memorial Day. Even if I started the seeds for 4-5 weeks, is the seedling going to be strong enough to survive the spring transplant?

I wanted to start cosmos, bush morning glory and maybe even my cleome. I don't have a sophisticated set-up for my seeds indoors - just lots of sunlight in a south exposure window.

What do you think ... wait and just sow the seeds in mid-May or get a headstart now and take my chances with some grown indoors for a few weeks? Help!


Susie said...

Ooooh that is a good question! Knowing me, I would be tempted to go ahead and start some indoors. But that is just me. Sorry, I wish I was more helpful.

ChrisND said...

Yeah, end of May...I sometimes try to push it earlier (I always have extra seeds just in case).

I don't have a lot of experience with starting flowers. But I'm starting tomatoes and basil in the next few days and warmer season veg like cucumber in a week or two. 4-5 weeks could be enough. I think as long as they get a couple sets of true leaves they would harden off fine.

My strategy is to start some indoors and see if I get a head start...but save some seeds to direct sow later. Actually, I am experimenting this year to see how much a jump I really get starting things indoors -- some catalogs say you get two weeks.


Johnnny said...

Hi Beth: I don't think it's ever too late. One time I met a 70 year old lady who wanted to start taking piano lessons (not from me). It's never too late. Kit recently planted some basil seeds. Go for it! As some famous quotation once said, "When in doubt, don't hesitate."

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Beth,
Sure you can start some stuff indoors still! Like Chris said, if you're doing veggies and herbs like basil, go right ahead and you'll be fine. Though I direct sow my basil in May and it does fine that way, but I'm in Zone 5a or 6, depending on who you believe...

As for the Convolvulus (Bush Morning Glory), I'd actually recommend you start it inside to give it a head start... It wants a long season and if you don't get it out early enough it takes forever to bloom. You can try Cosmos too, but in my experience, it doesn't like to be transplanted (much like Nasturtiums), but will tolerate it. I tend to just direct sow that and it comes up when it's ready, but again, that's here, and I know that ND is a whole different zone with its vicissitudes in weather. One thing you CAN direct sow now and it will come up when it warms is California Poppy ... I need to throw some of that around this weekend, along with larkspur.

We also start Celosia (cockscomb) inside early to give it a head start and it transplants well. What I'd suggest is that you go ahead and get your little ones going in that south window, then gradually "harden them off" by moving out during sunny days and bringing in if there's a chance of frost. We harden our seedlings on our enclosed porch, but I don't know if you have that option.

In any case, good luck!!

Connie said...

Beth, Go for it! I start Cosmos and Morning glory about 4 weeks before frost, which is about now for me, so you have plenty of time! Just give your cosmos seed a ample size container for the roots. I haven't started Cleome from seed, but it is probably similar to Cosmos. This will give you waaay earlier blooms which is important with your short season.
Is flood danger all over now?

Beth said...

Due to the overwhelming thumbs up I've received to start seeds indoors - I decided to do it!

I bought a tray of 32 peat pots. I went to the local hardware store and luckily, the manager ran his own nursery for 25 years. He showed me what he used to use at his nursery and said this worked the best for him.

I started off with two different kinds of cosmos (both the dwarf varities) the bush morning glory and cleome.
IVG - cosmos are the only things that worked for me last year when I started indoors - weird huh? I tried a whole tray of zinnias didn't transplant well at all.

I'm thinking about going back for one more tray and starting some nigella, larkspur, verbena and maybe some of my grandma's marigold seeds. I'm kind of excited about the whole thing. (I'm obviously amused very easily.)

The rest of my seeds I'm going to sow in the directly in the ground in another month - they can wait. Thanks for all the encouragement guys!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Good for you! I've been saving up toilet paper tubes to use for starting some seeds inside (you can just plant the whole thing in the ground and it will degrade naturally), but we've still got to get the Convolvulus and Cerinthe started... just been too busy lately. I've never planted the dwarf Cosmos, just the "Bright Lights" variety that gets bigger. Best of luck with your little ones!

Lynn said...

I love to use the disposable roaster pans you can get at $1 Store with lids. Put holes in bottom, add your dirt and plant you have little greenhouses. they work beautiful. they keep the soil moist and warm and things come up really fast in your windows..Go for it indoors!!!

Beth said...

IVG and Lynn: Toilet paper rolls and disposable roaster pans - all innovative gardening ideas!

Lynn: Is it hard to keep the seedling in one piece once it's big enough to tranplant? I envision the soil being really lose and falling apart when removing from the pan or am I overthinking this?!?!?

Kit said...

Hi Beth-
Wanted to thank you for the Nigella and California poppy seeds! I love that we can put them in the ground now when it's still cool out. The color of the poppies is going to be especially great since I really don't have any bright orange. I've tried butterfly plant for its orange color but it never makes it through the winter. The minute this rain stops the seeds are going in! Thanks again!

deedee said...

I'd start them now - but that's just me.