My Plant Babies

Growing flowers and vegetables from seed this year has been largely successful. Nearly everything came up and, along with garden center acquisitions, found a home in the garden. I love them all, but my home-grown babies hold a special place in my heart.

Sweet alyssum was the first of my plant babies to bloom and perhaps the easiest to start. They sprout within a few days, start to bloom in a matter of weeks, and keep producing masses of honey-scented flowers for months. Volunteer seedlings are likely next year and, unlike some self-seeders, are easily managed.

Marigolds were next to bloom. I started two varieties: ‘Strawberry Blonde’ and ‘Elevate’. The latter is extra-tall at maturity (30 to 40 inches) with orange flowers. Plants look good but show no sign of blooms. ‘Strawberry Blonde’ is a showstopper. The catalog describes the flowers as “pastel pink, rose, and yellow bicolors.” The overly-large flowers change over time from dark, rusty-red buds to almost yellow.

I started calendula (aka pot marigold or marsh marigold) before my seed order arrived. Blooms that close at dusk and reopen the next day came later than expected on much taller stems. Online claims of deer resistance have so far been accurate.

The petunias have so far been a disappointment. I should have transplanted the tiny seedlings into bigger pots and nurtured them along until they were big enough to plant out, but ran out of space in the cold frame. Planting them out so early was less an issue than my memory and poor vision.

Choosing from the many varieties of zinnias was a challenge. For no good reason, I finally settled on two with similar flowers in mixed colors, one a bit taller than the other. The height difference listed on the seed packets didn’t appear to be as much as it looks in the garden. Both varieties are branching more than types I’ve grown in the past.

For tomatoes, I chose ‘Cherokee Purple’ and a mix of heirloom beefsteak varieties. The latter came up fast, have been in the garden since early April, and have already reached the cage tops. ‘Cherokee Purple’ were slow to germinate — too late for most to make the cut. The plants look great and have started to bloom. I’m optimistic, but have learned not to count my tomatoes before they’re ripe.

Nasturtiums have been the biggest surprise. I’ve tried to grow them several times without much luck. If they come up at all, few if any ever bloom. A little online searching turned up a valuable hint: knick the seed and soak them in water overnight before planting. When I planted the seed, the day lily foliage was just emerging. They came up so thick this year I figured the nasturtium were doomed. #HappyAccident

Several more varieties are growing like crazy but have yet to bloom. It’s still early in the season. Watch this space for updates and progress reports. Thanks for stopping by!

2 responses to “My Plant Babies”

  1. Wow, I’m so jealous of your beautiful coleus. I bought seeds…but I haven’t managed to sprout them yet, and then I got caught up in other projects. Interesting that you have to do all that with your nasturtium seeds…they enthusiastically sprout here! Thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures and congrats on a lovely garden.