Faith in a Seed

– Posted in: Seeds and Seed Starting

Any gardener who hasn’t read Thoreau’s book Faith in a Seed should hie her/himself to the library. It is one of those read a bit, think a bit, read some more books, and now is the time to read it.

I’m in the thick of seed sowing now, trying to keep up with my schedule and shoe-horn in my new acquisitions. I am trying a new seed starting mix this year and so far like it pretty well; it is a soilless one based on coir, not peat. It stays more open textured than I thought it might, being coir. I have added a bit of vermiculite to it to increase its water take-up/drain off speed. I had a slight panic trying to find my favorite damp-off preventative which is still only available from England; the first shipment went into the 4th dimension but the 2nd finally arrived last week. I like cheshunt compound because it is not as frighteningly toxic as most fungicides, being copper and ammonia, and because I can use it as a drench when dampoff appears or a pre-treat when I know a crop is dicey. This is early but I am tempted to say the new mix is needing less treatment.

I splurged and bought myself a riddle when I got the cheshunt compound; not because the kitty litter screen doesn’t work but because this is a more manageable size and shape, with a little larger mesh. Lovely British design, and even w/ shipping around the horn [no wait, over the hump–no, across the pond] or wherever it went in between, cheaper than buying one in the states. Even with all the fancy gardening tool catalogs we have, the ones I get from the UK have neater, smarter stuff.

I liked the Magnolia article; Twin Falls is a long way from here and deserty but it is good to know Magnolias grow there too. They are one of my favorite trees and in the spring when they are full of huge pink tulip shaped flowers it is breathtaking. For some reason lots of nurseries sell the star magnolia more often than the saucer one (M. soulangeana) which is hardier here–probably because it is more of a large bush than a tree. But the frost often nips its flowers and then they look dreadful. I wonder if the ubiquitous (iniquitous) weed and feed is also responsible for many Wisteria failures to bloom; seems likely.

It is good to have seedlings to look at because the snow just won’t go away. We’ve decided it is styrofoam and permanent–it is getting hard to believe. It has been on the ground now without pause for nearly 4 months which seems like enough. We’ve had melting days; the pussy willows are starting blooming but the next blizzard is around the corner: we almost always have a whopper the first week of March.

About the Author

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4b/5aLocation: rural; just south of British Columbia/Idaho borderGeographic type: foot of Black & Clifty Mountains (foothills of Rockies–the Wet Columbia Mountains in BC climate- speak)Soil type:acid sand (glacial lake bed)/coniferous forestExperience level: intermediate/professionalParticular interests: fragrant & edible plants, hardy bulbs, cottage gardening, alpines, peonies, penstemons & other blue flowers, primulas, antique & species roses & iris; nocturnal flowers Also: owner of Paradise Gardens Rare Plant Nursery

Now, the digging and dividing of perennials, the general autumn cleanup and the planting of spring bulbs are all an act of faith. One carries on before the altar of delayed gratification, until the ground freezes and you can’t do any more other than refill the bird feeder and gaze through the window, waiting for the snow. . . . Meanwhile, it helps to think of yourself as a pear tree or a tulip. You will blossom spectacularly in the spring, but only after the required period of chilling.

~Adrian Higgins in The Washington Post, November 6, 2013

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