Back to the Dirt: Seed Gardening in 2012

I’ve been taking a break from gardening since I found out was pregnant last July.  I’ve missed gardening, but now that the baby is turning 5-months (!) and I’m finally hitting my mommy stride, I am dreaming of Spring planting.

I am very interested in seed gardening, but I am trying to be realistic and I don’t think I’ll have time with the baby to start a bunch of seeds indoors.  So this year, I want to try seeds that I can direct sow.  Jake has requested more flowers than vegetables this year, and I can’t blame him – last year we seemed to put more veggies in the squirrels’ bellies than in our own.  It was an awful lot of work for not so great pay off.

So now I am researching easy-care flowers that will grow from seed in Zone 5.  The helpful editors at Chicagoland Gardening (a publication I highly recommend for those of you who garden in Chicago) are amazingly responsive to questions posed by email via their Q&A section.

Order this Magazine!!

When I asked them for some easy-care flowers from seed I got 2 great responses:

If you want shorter plants, there are a couple new varieties of short
zinnias that could work. I would probably buy transplants next May. These
varieties are mildew resistant and come in white or orange and look like
daisies. If you want to grow from seed, you still won’t be planting until
mid-May because of the possibility of frost, and then you have to wait for
the plants to get big enough to bloom. Another reason to buy a couple flats
of transplants.

If you want something tall,try cosmos. The old-fashioned mix of pink, white
and burgundy grow about 3 feet tall. Sometimes 4. And this you would plant
from seed. Cosmos grow fast and should be able to outpace the pigweed. Once
the seedlings get a couple inches tall, you’ll be able to distinguish them
from the pigweed since the cosmos seedlings have rather fern-like leaves.

You might want to consider adding some perennials like chrysanthemums for
the wider side of the walkway. When you buy them in the spring, they form
good roots and survive winter just fine. It’s the ones that people buy in
September that don’t get established and die over the winter.

Best of luck with this.
Carolyn Ulrich, Editor

And from their Q&A Columnist:

Next spring, or even now line up your seeds to get them in the ground early. Thompson and Morgan has a seed catalog, which you can study over winter.

I only plant flowers that will seed themselves. Once you have them they will come up each year. Cosmos, cleome, bachelor buttons, old fashioned varieties of nicotiana, larkspur, feverfew.and columbine. Once you have these plants let them go to seed and learn to recognize them from where you planted them so you don’t pull them out. All do best in sun.

Enjoy  your garden.
Regards, Adele Kleine Q&A


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