Friday, March 30, 2012

Starting Flowers and Herbs

View of the beach and (frozen) lake from the post office this morning:

The viola seeds are sown and spending time outside, as the package said they needed to be chilled at 2-4 degrees C for a couple days first. A refrigerator would work just as well. Next, they will be brought to the warm indoors where the seeds germinate in darkness while having their bottoms warmed with an electric warming mat.

I own a single heat mat to germinate things like tomatoes, impatiens, and a few others that like such conditions. I just slide it under the plastic trays with the clear domes to make a cozy humid greenhouse for seedlings.

Various companies make inexpensive mats like these (I don't use a thermostat with mine, and it works just fine):

We've been grazing away at the potted cilantro, so I planted two more pots of this pungent herb. The trip to Arizona/Mexico inspired me to pull out the Rick Bayless Mexican cookbook, and we had a great slowcooker meal of tender pork with a cilantro and tomatillo sauce last week. Cilantro does well in a 4" or larger pot under fluorescent lights. The same goes for parsley and basil. I sow these herbs repeatedly throughout the year.
Cilantro under lights:

I just started some thyme, and now would be a good time to sow sage and rosemary (though rosemary is so slow that I usually just buy a plant in spring). All of these can be moved outside here in mid-June. Chives and French tarragon can be sown in the ground and will survive winters under the snow. A few mints can be grown from seed, but the mint cultivars cannot reliably be grown from seed and are best purchased as plants. I buy them online from Richter's herbs (Canadian), who has more than one page of mint varieties in their catalog.

Seedlings growing in Lee Valley tool's taller grow dome:

First of the container annuals started in the light garden:

I've sorted through the rest of the seeds and decided which should be planted in April, May or June. This year, the tomatoes will wait till late April to May 1 to be planted. Hopefully, they will still make tomatoes in July and not be too tall and gangly by the time they get outside. Some year, I will get it perfect!

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