Saturday morning was absolutely gorgeous, mid 30's, clear blue sky. I just had to be outside. I'd been thinking about the Chasmanthium latifolium (River Oats) that I'd seen along the river (of course) over at Green Hill Park a few months ago. If there were any seeds left on the plants, I really wanted to get some and give them a try. I love River Oats and know of several places in my gardens where they'd fit in nicely. Well, as luck would have it, I didn't just find the chasmanthium, but some goldenrod, frost aster, wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia), and Virginia Wild Rye (Elymus virginicus), too. I couldn't resist! These are hardy common staples here in the valley, and should do wonderfully in our gardens, in fact some already exist there, just in small quantities.
I didn't really need any more seeds, I'd already received my order from Prairie Moon for my must haves for next year, plants that I want alot of. It is, of course, cheaper to grow 50 Sweet Joe Pye plants from seed than to buy them already as mature plants. And there's no such thing as too much Joe Pye. I wanted to try my hand at winter sowing, but what started out as an experiment has quickly gotten out of control. I am a plant addict, after all. I ordered six kinds of seeds from Prairie Moon, then collected five more kinds in the wild. All those black plastic plant pots I saved from over the summer now isn't enough. I've run out and need to buy some, I haven't even planted my Green Hill Park seeds yet.
I've been dreaming of starting native plants from seed all summer long, planning what I wanted and what I thought would do well here. Before I was really into habitat gardening and I was just a casual gardener, winter was dull and boring, with nothing to do in or for the garden. When I started reading about winter sowing, I just knew I had to try. Worst case scenario = no plants, best case scenario = lots of plants!
The only problem is, I've never done this before. I have visions of either zero success, or so many plants that I have to start giving them away (to the native flower friends I don't have) just so they can get planted.
If any of you out there reading this have any tips for me, please share. I've only read what's available out there on the internet, which all seems to be anecdotal with no "After" shots of pots of plants in the spring to show how successful they were. No one I know has ever done this before. For example, I've read that since I don't have continuous snowpack, I should keep the pots covered, like with clear plastic sheeting. Why? To retain moisture? Won't that create heat build-up, negating the cold part of the cold stratification process? I do notice they tend do dry out a bit and I'm supposed to keep them moist. So I'm going to be watering pots all winter? I've also noticed some folks use empty milk jugs, but I don't have a few hundred lying around. I originally had my pots on the southeast side of my house, but they were drying out in a day. I have since moved them to the colder, north side and they are staying moister longer. Am I foolish, or what? Tell me the truth, I can take it...usually.
|The green hill of Green Hill Park, a popular place to ride a horse, if you have one.|
|An old farm field full of goldenrod, aster, and birds...|
|Wingstem seeds, I think they're attractive still on the stem|
|Virginia Wild Rye|
|My haul from Green Hill Park|
|My first batch, likely soon to double...|