with the soil" is a theme you will hear often from the experts. Our guest writer, Lawrence Griffith, is
the Curator of Plants at Colonial Williamsburg. He is no exception.
He says, "While the process of preparing a seedbed can be tedious, the
results in cost savings are enormous."
is another garden activity that cannot be skimped. Furthermore, thinning has to be done to insure a healthy
crop of seedlings. Griffith
reminds us that if we lavish attention on our garden beds, we will have a
has found several native perennials can be planted into a well-prepared outdoor
seedbed. Read the article below to
find out which flowers will bloom the first year they go into the ground.
--- Anne K Moore,
February 27, 2009 ---
Photos by Anne K Moore ---
HOW TO GET BLOSSOMS FROM
FIRST YEAR PERENNIALS
Increasingly, gardening smart
means gardening inexpensively. One
tactic to investigate is gardening from seed planted directly into the soil,
the gist of my newly published book, Flowers and Herbs of Early America.
through a Mars Foundation grant, the book's purpose is to investigate the use
of indigenous and introduced plant species to early America. While conducting live field trials
during the preparation of the book, I discovered that several native American perennials could be seeded directly into the
soil and can be expected to flower within one growing season.
coneflower (Echinacea purpurea),
boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum),
anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) and American vervain
(Verbena hastata), when started from
seed in the ground in mid-March, can be expected to bloom by mid-summer of the
coneflower, 36 to 48 inches, proved surprisingly easy to induce into bloom the
first year from seed. In field
trials, seed sown in March germinated by the middle of April with flowering
commencing by the second week in July.
The plants remained in flower through the third week of July. Its spectacular seed heads give another
couple of months of durability and effect in the garden.
Boneset (up to 5'), a fever
tonic of the Deep South, is also an effortless perennial to seed in the garden. In field trials, boneset performed like
purple coneflower, germinating in April and flowering by the second week of
July. Boneset's white flowers
attract an array of flying insects, and its lack of bright tint cools a garden
during the blazing heat of summer.
hyssop, another American native, is a quick growing, short-lived blue-colored
perennial easily raised from seed in one season. Its use among Native Americans was myriad, from fevers to
respiratory complaints. Its bloom
is so profound as to attract more insects and butterflies than even the
boneset, now making it a valuable bee plant in Europe.
verbena, a valuable blue perennial, was a great find on the part of the Mars
Foundation research. Seed sown in
early April and germinating in early May resulted in blooming by June, when it
assumed an impressive 5'-6' in the garden when given sufficient water. Persistent deadheading can result in
re-flowering through the third week of August.
the process of preparing a seedbed can be tedious, the results in cost savings
are enormous. Considering that
perennials average $8.00 for a one-gallon pot, or a shrink-wrapped package, a
hundred seedlings from a package of $3.00 seed can be a present from heaven.
soil of a seedbed needs to be well tilled, have profound friability, and be of
a small, smooth texture high in organic matter. Seedlings are delicate and can be smothered by
large-textured soil mediums or soils.
apparent germination, much discretion must be employed to ascertain weed
seedlings from intended seedlings.
Generally, if you're growing multiple crops, weed seeds will appear in
all beds, and the intended crops only in that plot designated for them.
around seedlings is a delicate and an extremely tactile occupation, and
extremely important, as is thinning.
Although thinning is anathema to some, it is the key to the success of a
healthy crop of seed-sown perennials.
under $20.00 in seed, home gardeners can access four of America's best
perennials for cents on the dollar if they take the patience to prepare their
soil, plant their seeds, tend to them, and wait for summer.