Sunday, May 16, 2010

Seedlings I Planted Myself

Although I bought most of my plants this year, and direct seeded the rest outside, there were a couple that I started inside and grew under lights.

These are most of them - Diva cucumbers & Cavili squash. The Diva seed packet went into great detail about planting them inside, so I didn't plant them outside like I usually do with cukes. I asked on Gardenweb if that was necessary- and another Diva grower said it wasn't, but would give better germination. Since we were having a cold snap, I figured I might as well do them inside.

Well, he wasn't kidding about germination! I got 100% by just 3 days after planting. I swear, one morning I left work work and nothing was there, then I came home and Bam! they looked like this! I couldn't believe it.
Now here they are 10 days later. I hardened them off for about a week, and planted them after I took this picture.

And here's the Cavili squash on the same day, with the other seeds I planted - Lemon Gem Marigolds - in the back:
The marigolds were a bit of a disaster this year. Well, ok - let's call it a "learning experience". First of all, you can see that four of the cells are empty - those didn't even germinate. That may be because I used the same pack of seeds I bought in spring 09. Also, I planted them sometime in Mid-April but the ones that did grow are still tiny. Maybe that's normal but I'm not sure.

Then, at the same time I planted seeds I saved myself from the red and tangerine gem marigolds I bought from Well Sweep herb farm last year. Not one of those germinated. Once again, I turned to the awesome Gardenweb forums for advice, and discovered that you should save seeds from the plants at different times during the growing season. This is because if there are no pollinators around, or the weather is too hot or too cold, you may not get viable seeds from the blooms. I saved all of mine from the plants at the end of the season, so it was probably too late for pollinators and too cold. I also learned that the different colors will cross-pollinate, so it is unclear what colors I'll get from the seeds I save. One of them might be dominant, or I could get all sorts of combinations.

After finding that out I went ahead and soaked ALL of the seeds I saved last year overnight, and tried to presprout them on moist paper towels. Out of hundreds of seeds, maybe 10 of them sprouted. Unfortunately, as 1 more thing in a comedy of errors, I left them in the paper towels longer than I should have. I still tried planting them even though they had 2 leaves and a long tail, and out of the 5 or 6 I planted, 1 is now still alive.

So I finally gave up and bought a pack of tangerine gems from Seed Savers, since I have room for around 20 plants. They are germinating now. It is a little late to start them, but they'll probably still be blooming by July or so, and will keep flowering into October, so not too big of a deal. At least now I know a little more and hopefully this year I'll do a better job at saving the seeds.

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