Cassey Anderson- Adams County Extension
All of this warm weather has been starting my gardening itch early. Intuitively I know that we still have months of winter left and that getting the garden going should wait at least another month even for starting seeds indoors. With that in mind, we were inspired in my office to think about what you can start in January. Ornamental plants can take much longer to germinate and grow when started inside, so they are excellent candidates for satisfying that early (or even pre-) season itch.
Coincidentally, last year on a whim we ordered iris seeds off the internet, the seeds were cheap, the picture seemed very unique (and possibly photoshopped so the hue saturation was way off) so we decided to take a try. When the seeds arrived we could not decide if they were actually iris seeds or not, there are definitely a solanaceous seed and a grain seed mixed in the bunch, whether it was tomato or some weedy member of the nightshade family remains to be seen.
|The picture from the advertisement for Iris we ordered.|
|Iris seeds we received, notice how one seed is not like the others...|
Since obviously one small batch of iris seeds didn’t seem sufficient we decided to branch out further and found some more unlikely seeds: a set of succulents called bunny ears, once again possibly victims of photoshop as the plants are supposedly vivid baby blue, a color I personally have not seen on any plants. The shape also very unique, a small round stem with two “bunny ears” sticking up.
|Bunny Ear Stone Flower|
In an effort to grow something practical we also ordered a few other sedums, particularly a mix of various cold-hardy sempervivum as a way to experiment. If these grow successfully we can plant them in our demonstration gardens
With the seeds decided it was necessary to create a good setup for starting seeds. So we purchased a heat mat, complete with temperature control, and two lovely LED grow lights. The lights are definitely becoming a conversation starter in the office.
We have hung the lights from our ceiling with some string (with plans to upgrade to a chain at a later date) over the seeding trays which are placed over our heat mat. We got the heat mat on sale so the set up cost us just under $50.
We planted each type of seed in its own flat. The sempervivum seeds are extremely tiny so we just covered them very very lightly. The iris seeds we dibbled in with a pencil (including the errant mystery seeds!). Each tray has been labeled so we can remember what went where. To wrap it up we covered the whole thing with a clear plastic cover. This retains both heat and moisture to aid in germination.
If we have any success in our office seed-starting adventure we will post later in the year!