Friday, January 05, 2007

Seedy questions



This is an interesting thing. Obviously, I can and do post nearly daily...it's just a good exercise for me; nothing more. But I do often wonder if I will run out of things to say--slash--get boring, or MORE boring, in a year or so. The garden world and this farm are only so big. Well. On occasion something comes along that gets me off of the creative hook. Carol a couple of days ago posted something called "What kind of seed buyer are you," and Kathy asked me, yesterday, to take the bait. Hmm. So, here goes. I hope it doesn't bore you all. If it does, just tune back in a few days from now; I will be off to other things by then.

Do you carefully read all of the seed catalogs sent to you and then browse the Internet to compare and contrast all the options, then decide which seeds to buy?
Uh, I comparison shop catalogs, then (usually) pick from three or so to place orders.

Do you buy seeds from 'bricks and mortar' stores and get whatever appeals to you as you are browsing?
Not really, unless they're annuals that I have forgotten to buy elsewhere (annuals, frankly, are the red-headed stepchildren in my gardens, so little regarded yet so ubiquitous).

Do you buy vegetable seeds in bulk where they scoop them out of seed bins, weigh them and put them in hand-marked envelopes?
Yes. Watervliet Fruit Exchange is my store for chicken feed, crushed limestone, blood meal, and, on rare occasion, veggie seeds. I had poor germination with some parsnips last year, so I decided that getting them for 40c beat paying shipping to get less from a seed company. But I don't really want to be planting everything else my neighbors are planting, you know? What's the fun in that?

Do you buy seeds for just vegetables, or just annual flowers? Do you buy seeds for perennial flowers?
All three, actually. I start cold-fearing seeds in the house, but most other seeds, perennials especially, get started in the unheated garage. It has a great bank of southern windows.

Do you know what stratification and scarification are? Have you done either or both with seeds?
Uh, yes, again. Roughing up some big annual seeds tends to help germination.

Do you order seeds from more than one seed company to save on shipping or buy from whoever has the seeds you want, even if it means paying nearly the same for shipping as you do for the actual seeds?
I have in the past. This year I am trying to order from one store only, though I think I won't get all I need from there, sadly.

Do you buy more seeds than you could ever sow in one season?
Of course, silly! Who could possibly use all the tomato plants that a packet of seeds promises.

Do you only buy seeds to direct sow into the garden or do you end up with flats of seedlings in any window of the house with decent light? I do both. However, the plants grown in the house are grown under fluorescent lights. My biggest discovery last year was to use an emergency solar blanket (get them at Target in the camping section for about $2: they're basically reflective mylar) draped over the light and the seed trays. It bounced the light around quite a bit, and the plants loved it.

Do you save your own seeds from year to year and exchange them with other seed savers?

I have begun to seed-save veg seeds. I have actively and passively saved perennial and annual seeds (actively = put them in envelopes and label them, passively = go out and harvest the seedheads I never cut off the fall before) in the past. I would love to seed-trade (any takers?).

Do you even buy seeds?
YES, but I am organized in my approach. I swear.

Do you have a fear of seeds? Some gardeners don't try seeds, why not?
Please understand that I am standing in the middle of the intersection that is "Tightwad Street" and "Simple Living Way," so going out and buying flats of plants, though tempting, is not something I am going to do. Seeds are cheap!

Do you understand seeds? I once bought seeds at a Walmart in January (Burpee Seeds) and the cashier asked me, "Do these really work? Yes, they do. "Isn't it too cold to plant them now?" Well, yes, if you are planning to plant them outside. I don't think this cashier grew up around anyone who gardened.
Most of everything is trial and error. I chewed my husband a new one when he "forgot" one morning to lift the lid off some lettuces I was hardening off. They fried. He didn't understand it would get to 120* in there with the lid on it. Now he knows. But he'd never done this before, so how would he know...

Do you list all your seeds on a spreadsheet, so you can sort the list by when you should sow them so you have a master seed plan of sorts?
Wow, that's even too OCD for me. I use a three-ring binder. Much more user-friendly in a muddy garden.

Do you keep all the old seeds and seed packets from year to year, scattered about in various drawers, boxes, and baskets?
Well, I keep them year to year (knowing that germination rates drop) but they're in plastic shoebox-sized bins, organized by plant type.

Do you determine germination percentage for old seed?
Only when I really have a question about its extreme age. Then I put them on damp paper towels, roll them up, put them in a ziplock bag and then put them atop the fridge, or, rather, forget I put them atop the fridge. Then they sprout, I remember them, and I think, well, this works.

Does this help understand what kind of gardener I am? I bet it gives an indication.

4 comments:

Colleen said...

"Please understand that I am standing in the middle of the intersection that is "Tightwad Street" and "Simple Living Way," so going out and buying flats of plants, though tempting, is not something I am going to do. Seeds are cheap!"

LOL I'm more on "Tightwad Street" right now myself. But, besides that, I just think starting seeds is fun.

I think this entry definitely gives a better view of what kind of gardener you are. I'd guess you are organized and methodical---both things that I am not. Which explains why you had home-grown veggies and herbs for Thanksgiving dinner, and I had to buy everything at the store :-)

Kathy said...

Thanks for departing from your regularly scheduled program. I find a spreadsheet more useful in comparing prices prior to purchase than tracking germination, myself. But the last time I started seeds in a major way I didn't know about spreadsheets, or enough about them, to consider it.

meresy_g said...

An emergency blanket over seed flats. Genius. Someone gave me one for Christmas years ago and I still have it, unused in a cabinet somewhere. Although as soon as I use it, we'll get a blizzard and I'll get snowbound and be trapped in my car and slowly freeze to death. I live further down Tightwad Street, but strangley, it doesn't apply to seeds and plants.

Carol said...

Wonderful post. I was not bored at all. I do now wonder if I am slighly OCD because I use a spreadsheet... ;-)