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On patience

Posted by campanula UK Cambridge (My Page) on
Tue, Apr 1, 14 at 14:57

Because I grow most plants from seed, I hear the same thing over and over -' I just don't have the patience for that'. Of course you do! Nearly all perennials are in flower in their second year, a few take 3 years and a very, very few take longer. And yet you all know the 3 year rule for roses (sleep, creep and leap) and you all patiently wait till your shrubs reach maturity. You take cuttings right? Well that's 2 years right there.
If we were to sow seeds then do nothing 'cept twiddle our thumbs for 3 years, well sure, who wants to do that. But we don't. We have a continual conveyor belt of plants coming along.....and it is exactly the same with seeds......except for one glaring difference - cost. Literally, seeds grow on trees (and bushes, shrubs, annuals, veggies).
You know those 'rules' for planting in 3s and 5s - well who buys 3 or 5 identical plants? We mostly buy one and wait till it clumps up. Then we split, divide, take slips and save seeds.....and get lots of plants for FREE.
This is quite apart from the magical process of watching a tiny little seed germinate and grow - it is pure pragmatism (a quality most gardeners have in quantity).
And so, a plea - try a fat and easy seed such as nasturtium - poke a couple into the ground, water in and wait. Absolute joy guaranteed.
Because I am essentially a lazy gardener, I use no lights, special mixes, heat or mist.....so my failure rate is probably around 20%.....but that's 80% success. I probably lose another 50% during the years of potting on, watering and waiting.....but I still have literally hundreds of plants to put in the ground which have cost me nothing apart from time and effort.
I am trying not to hector or nag.....but I really hope some of you have a go - it can be addictive, but it is also nice to be able to share, swap and learn about new plants.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: On patience

camp, I couldn't argue with a single point you make, and probably more people should consider doing this. I've noticed that quite a few people here and on the general rose forum do practice some form of what you mention, including growing roses from seeds.

There are people, however, probably more than we might realize, who because of age or infirmity simply aren't up to the energy it takes to contemplate this approach. It's not just the sowing of the seeds, it's the watering, potting on, constant watching over them and whatever it entails that makes this, in addition to other gardening tasks, seem daunting. For myself, and I say this without wanting any part of pity, I can't remember the last year that I got up and didn't hurt in various and sundry ways. There are many people much worse off than I am, who still manage to do some form of gardening, and I know that at least for me it's greatly improved the quality of my life and given me great joy. However, when it's a chore every single time you have to bend over, you learn to confine yourself to those things that strictly have to be done and that give the most value for the pain and discomfort. To someone who is blessed with abundant energy it's really difficult to understand that for some people almost every movement is an effort and that energy has to be conserved and doled out like a miser. For that reason my garden is very basic and, as I've mentioned before, I couldn't garden at all without my husband digging every single hole for the roses and companion plants, and doing other work that I can't do. (I mean, I have to use a tool to unscrew the d..n diet Pepsi bottle!)

I don't mean this at all as a criticism of your post, I hope you know me better than that, but just as a gentle reminder that some of us are not whirling dervishes of energy, but subject to stupid, chronic ailments that I don't think even had a name 30-40 years ago. Fortunately one does learn to adjust, but you have to know your limits. Often I stupidly don't and stagger back to the house and pay the price with hours of enforced inactivity (fortunately I know how to read). Despite that, I'm proud of myself that I managed to get a certain job done, and a feeling of accomplishment is no small thing. The same job might have been done by you in five minutes and left you fresh as a daisy and raring to go on to another half dozen projects, but we're all different.

I hope I don't sound as though I should be standing on a soapbox. I don't ever want you to stop speaking your mind (hmm, wonder if that's possible?) because your unique persona is simply indispensable here.

Ingrid


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RE: On patience

Well spoken both of you. I have mixed feelings about seeds. Some things like Petunias and Delphiniums are darned hard to start and so readily available. Sometimes too seed packets are expensive. If i only need 6 of something it's convenient and cheaper to just buy a six pack. I am perfectly willing to start roses from seed and enjoy the whole process. I think often for me it's not the patience. It's the possibility of seeds not germinating and growing, which has happened often enough.


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RE: On patience

You're preaching to the choir, Camp. Other than the roses, most of my garden is from seed, annual and perennial. However, I will admit that until she retired, I bought slow-growing annuals like hybrid petunias and snaps from a local nursery by the flat, 48 plants in a flat for ten bucks. She had a wonderful nursery setup with automatic liquid fertilizer fed many times a day in small quantities that could bring plants to bloom in a matter of weeks. I actually cried when she retired.

This year, I tried to duplicate her process but still lost many plants because I was doing it by hand rather than automation, but I still love the process of seed sowing. In addition, here in Florida they sell the same bedding plants over and over, nothing unusual and nothing suitable for cutting, so if I want my unusual things and tall plants suitable for the vase, I have to start seeds.

Happy seed sowing.


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RE: On patience

You're preaching to the choir, Camp. Other than the roses, most of my garden is from seed, annual and perennial. However, I will admit that until she retired, I bought slow-growing annuals like hybrid petunias and snaps from a local nursery by the flat, 48 plants in a flat for ten bucks. She had a wonderful nursery setup with automatic liquid fertilizer fed many times a day in small quantities that could bring plants to bloom in a matter of weeks. I actually cried when she retired.

This year, I tried to duplicate her process but still lost many plants because I was doing it by hand rather than automation, but I still love the process of seed sowing. In addition, here in Florida they sell the same bedding plants over and over, nothing unusual and nothing suitable for cutting, so if I want my unusual things and tall plants suitable for the vase, I have to start seeds.

Happy seed sowing.


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RE: On patience

  • Posted by catspa NoCA Z9 Sunset 14 (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 1, 14 at 19:57

The main reason I grow from seed, is that I can't get the plants I want, readily or even at all, from nurseries. If I want Iris attica (yellow variety), or the incredibly delightful and easy Iris graminea, or Mirabilis multiflora, there is no alternative but to grow them from seed.

Sometimes I get the feeling that commercial sources for seed are dwindling, too, perhaps because the customer base is shrinking. Years ago I got seeds for Oenothera organensis (a spectacular garden plant) and for florist-type spider chrysanthemums (the 5' tall kind that have to be staked) from Thompson and Morgan. T&M stopped offering them and I have never found another source for the seeds, despite numerous searches on the web. So these varieties, and more than a few others in my garden, have taken on the aura of some of the found and orphaned rose varieties there: no longer available anywhere else and I have to keep them going or lose them forever. Though I haven't done a formal analysis, the 1978 T&M catalog I have seems to have more and rarer varieties than their recent catalogs.

Like Mendocino Rose, if I only need a few of something and it's readily available, I just go to the nursery. If I need more than a few plants or plants are hard to come by, then seed it is. The Crithmum maritimum I stumbled upon at Annie's Annuals last year seems to have completely disappeared from her list (probably has a fan club of one: me) and no U.S. source of seeds (good old Chiltern in the U.K. lists them), but I got seed off the plant I bought, so now have a couple of dozen little plants to grow and eventually taste, I hope.

Another reason is the cheapskate factor, if numerous plants are needed.

I don't think growing from seed takes a lot of work or bother, but maybe that's because my learning curve for doing it took place decades ago. Now it's simply routine.

This post was edited by catspa on Tue, Apr 1, 14 at 20:08


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RE: On patience

Ingrid,
My heart goes out to you. For 20+ years I experienced the symptoms you described. A few years ago it was discovered that I had Vitamin D deficiency. With the Vitamin D supplementation the worst of the symptoms disappeared. No promises, but it might be worth a lab test.

Cath


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RE: On patience

Ingrid, it's so hard to believe that you aren't a 30 yr old spring chicken by the looks of your gardens! Good work, you manage to get alot accomplished!

Growing seeds always seemed so slow, but this probably the perfect time to start. I think you just made a convert of me. Ill give it a try. I saw some beautiful coleus last year that was pretty pricey. Maybe I'll try to find some coleus seeds. Where can you find seeds for unusual plants?

Terri


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RE: On patience

Sorry to hear how debilitated you are Ingrid - Mr.Campanula is currently going through many similar processes - he has osteoporosis and Ehlers Danlos syndrome (bendy bones, as it is sometimes called, although obviously, the bones are NOT bending).......so I am working for both of us now. After being a skilled tradesman his whole life, it has been a dreadful blow to be unable to lift, dig, or work at his accustomed pace.....just as we have the woods and all - natch! Although, he has taken over a lot of greenhouse duties, including seed raising - a gentle, refined sort of thing which can be done while sitting down, lifting nothing heavier than a dibber and teaspoon.
Pamela - I definitely know where you are coming from, buying little packs of petunias, lobelias and so forth - I still buy bacopa and the odd nemesia in cheap market packs....but I am not keen on bedding plants and would not really have a place for petunias. The truth is more like Catspa's reasoning - it is not easily possible to get plants I want unless I grow them myself. There are loads of terrific nurseries but factoring in postage costs and buying plants becomes prohibitive unless it is for a little one-off splurge. Even worse, seed varieties ARE diminishing.....and I have sad news to report about Chilterns seeds too. They have changed hands, become glossy, send out lots of e.mails and have reduced their inventory by half. Catspa - take a look at Plant World Seeds - they are cheaper, better and faster than Chiltern and the proprietor, Ray Brown, will happily take the time to offer advice and suggestions, replacing non-germinators.....but mostly, they stock the most varied, unusual seeds - but not your evening primrose (although they had 16 varieties including a few I had never heard about).
As for T&M - pfffttt!
I have bought seeds from all over the world - Chile, US, Lithuania, Mexico, Canada and yes, I also feel a bit like I am keeping a torch alight for some of the rare types (although this would never be a reason for growing them - they MUST be garden worthy).
Florida - when I first started to garden, I started growing seeds as a first principle.....and like you, it has become routine - I do several seed orders a year, along with the spring bulbs and bareroots orders. I would say my seed fails are on a par with some of the reported rose fails.....but I find it far less painful tossing a pot of non-germinators into the 'last chance pit' at the side of the greenhouse, than digging up a dying or miserable plant (it is astonishing how many of these pots suddenly spring into life - a bit like showing a spade to a rose, I guess,.

Gardening is a truly welcoming, egalitarian hobby - there really is something for everyone.


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RE: On patience

I invested in a grow light setup so I could start the pricier annuals from seed. Not being real organized, some years I start too early, some years too late, but I do love the gentle slow unfolding of almost microscopic seedlings into full sized garden plants for almost no money. Plants, like everything else I love, seem to have gotten much more expensive in the past decade or so.


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RE: On patience

I read all this with great interest. For me it is a combination of factors why I don't bother too much with seeds, but lack of time is the main one. I do agree with principle with Camps though and I can imagine how Ingrid feels since I too am in the early stages of arthritic ailment.

Catspa,
Iris attica, lol, it's funny when I hear people jumping through hoops to get their hands on a plant which grows wild on the hill just 5mins from my home. After all, I live in Attica. But it always happens like this, doesn't it? One man's native plant is another man's exotic wish.
Nik


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RE: On patience

I'm very much a grower-from-seed. To me, one of the joys of gardening is growing big display beds of annuals--sometimes unusual or unexpected stuff (a few years, I had my two most publicly prominent beds full of Wheat, edged with Beets), sometimes old favorites (traditional [which is to say "tall"] Sweet Williams were a big hit one year, so much so that I repeated the next year, and right now old fashioned tall single blue Cornflowers are coming into bloom). But my point is that, unusual or familiar, this wouldn't be possible without quite an extensive sowing of seed. Bedding aside, I also crave things (perennials, cacti and other succulents, bulbs) which are very often just not available any way than from seed.

A recent fly in the ointment has been that my starting-from-seed-under-lights set-up was sabotaged a couple of years ago by some sort of change in the nature of the "for-plants" fluorescent tubes such that seeds would (maybe) sprout and would then die as if they weren't receiving the right kind of radiation from the light.

And so, I have a question for you who start seeds under fluorescent bulbs: For you who have success, what specific fluorescent tubes do you use (brand and "model" or whatever)? I have meantime, with heartening success, moved my seed-starting outdoors; but I'd be more confident with seeds such as those of Begonias and the like if I could go back to starting them indoors.

To bring this full circle to "patience": Species cyclamen are one of my interests--and can take a year just to sprout . . .


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RE: On patience

Odinthor,

I use one warm white tube (GE brand F40 CX 30 ECO) and one cool white (GE brand F40 CW C41 ECO) florescent tube in a 4 foot length fixture. This gives the proper spectrum and is adequate. The grow lights are supposed to be a little better but since they are a lot more expensive, I go this route.

Cath


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RE: On patience

  • Posted by catspa NoCA Z9 Sunset 14 (My Page) on
    Wed, Apr 2, 14 at 13:17

Does Plant World Seeds have iris or what? What a great selection of species and Iris kin -- and more Oenothera than you are likely to find anywhere, including some even I haven't tried. Thanks for the tip, Campanula--order being formulated at this very moment, will give them a try. The news about Chiltern is disheartening -- they were the great hope after T&M went totally commercial and banal.

It is funny, isn't it, Nik? When Camps goes on about Nemophila, Phacelia, Clarkia, and such, I always think, "No need to plant them here, I'll just walk the half-mile over to the open space..."

Odinthor, I currently have 2 20-watt Phillips Plant and Aquarium bulbs in my fixture (which, it occurs to me, is now over 35 years old -- practically an antique), but the bulbs are probably at least 3 or 4 years old, so not the newest models. In the past, when short on cash, I've also used one cool white and one warm white bulb in the same fixture successfully. And, speaking of begonias, that's what's under the lights right now: Begonia boliviensis, plus some Agave polianthiflora.


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RE: On patience

I used to use one warm white and one cool white until I realized that the seedlings were so close to the bulbs that they were essentially only getting light from one bulb, and that both sides looked equally equal. Since then it has just been whatever fits in the fixture and is cheap.


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Thanks, all. I believe it's the current crop of Phillips Plant and Aquarium bulbs which I have, and which I blame for my current difficulties (at least, the difficulties started with the older bulbs burned out and I replaced them with Phillips!).


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Cripes, nearly everything is exotic to us Brits - the glaciation cut us off from mainland Europe and left us with a native flora and fauna which is lovely, but limited. Mind, this woodland scenario is turning out to be a period of great education for me - a definite reassessment of wildflowers....it has been years since I sowed such a variety of plants (not vegetables, I always do them - yawn) and I confess to falling in love with this process all over again.........


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RE: On patience

camp, I'm so very sorry to hear about your partner's ailment. How difficult for both of you with the property in the woods to deal with now.

Cath, thanks so much for the tip. I'll be seeing my doctor next week and will be sure to mention Vitamin D.

Terri, I'm so fortunate to have my husband to help. He does all the hard work, and I do the rest as I can. My garden is really a very simple one when you look at it closely, nothing labor-intensive or elaborate at all, just ordinary plants plunked here and there, assuming you consider anything as wonderful as old roses ordinary.

Nik, I'm sorry you're also beginning to experience problems. I suppose it's partly the price we pay for living longer. In the Middle Ages the average life span was about 38 years so there wasn't much time to develop too many debilitating diseases.

Ingrid


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