It is becoming a reoccurring theme during the months of December, January, and February for me to try some sort of growing experiment because I’m bored, miss gardening, and want to see if it works. Some are far shots, some have failed, but if I’ve wasted resources in the process at least I’ve learned something as well. This year, however, I believe I may have put together a system that just might work, and if it does it should get the spring garden off to a nice, early start. I’m also becoming more and more interested in having more flowers in the garden and starting them from seed, hence my first winter experiment for 2018:
Back in December I was at a local garden center with some Christmas gift money burning a hole in my pocket. So of course, when I saw they still had a couple stands of seed packets left over from the spring rush I had to take a look. $40 later I cheerfully drove away thrilled with my new selections, one of them being the Swiss Giant pansy blend from Botanical Interests. I’ve never grown pansies before, from seed or otherwise, so this is a new adventure for me. With their frost hardy constitution, I thought it would be fun to see just how early I could get these beauties started.
The first step was to follow the directions on the packet and and cold stratify the seeds. I decided to do this in a damp paper towel, inside a plastic zip bag, inside a brown paper bag (to provide them the necessary darkness they need to germinate), and stick them in the refrigerator.
I left the seeds in the fridge for about five days.
I really like using the damp paper towel method for larger seeds that I want to pre-sprout, but since the pansy seeds are so small, I think next time I do this I will just sow them in seed starting mix and stick them in the fridge that way, as it was a pain trying to get the damp seeds off of the towel and into the seed starting mix. Praise God for toothpicks.
After sowing the stratified seeds into my favorite seed starting mix, I stuck the containers in a box to keep them in the dark and set them out in the garage. Once the sprouts emerge they will be grown under a light strip in the garage where it stays cool but not frigid. Once they are big enough and the weather is more accommodating, the transplants will be stuck in a cold frame and eventually into their final containers.
I’m excited to see how this particular winter “experiment” turns out. Lord willing, I’ll have some lovely blooms to enjoy this spring!