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seedstarting part 2

Since my last post on seedstarting, I have adjusted and readjusted my little seedlings. Indoors, outdoors, closer to the light, sitting out on the porch in part shade. Actually, what I intended to do was get most of them outside because the weather had been so great. Then came the rains–about 2 weeks of rain and totally overcast days. And I could write a whole thing on this. We got more rain than I have ever seen in spring since I moved to Austin.

This lack of sunshine confused my plants, and worst of all the poppies. Unfortunately, I accidentally left my tray of oriental poppies one of those rain-days and the tray (which had no holes on the bottom) filled with rain water and completely drowned the poppies. It appears about 3 out of 40 survived. The rest have laid over and died. Ahhh! my dream of poppies is still going uphill!

The seedlings which seemed to care the least about their environment was the zinnias, which I repotted last week and are doing great. Pretty much ready to plant in the garden. So here’s the update on my seedlings:

Zinnias: outdoors and happy and ready to be planted.

Poppies: down for the count. may get a few out of this tray.

Foxgloves: here are the other plants I dream and dream of having in my somewhat shady garden. They are doing great. They have gotten a little too big for the seedstarting tray (their roots are going out of their cells) but don’t seem big enough to plant outdoors yet. Looks like I have to pot them up to bigger pots but don’t have any on hand yet.

Gayfeather: well, several germinated but then died. I’m not sure what happened here. I may just have to buy some live plants from an online catalog (don’t get me started here… I am scaring the neighbors with all the packages I have delivered from nurseries.)

Cosmos: these are still doing good but leggy. I am sure they will be fine if a bit tall. I planted these in a different type of seed-starting mix. You can get little trays from Home Depot or Lowe’s that contain compressed ‘pellets’ to which you just add warm water. These pellets inflate to a spongy mix which feels and looks sort of needle-like but definitely stays evenly moist. I like it because it doesn’t get too soggy, unless the trays are just sitting in standing water. So I will definitely try them next year.

The other seedstarting mix I got from It is a mix of perlite, vermiculite and sphagnum moss. I went ahead and bought bags of each of these so next year I can make my own without spending lots of money on someone else’s prebagged mix (although it’s a nice mix, and easy to repot and transplant).

I think the most important thing I’ve learned so far is the need for light. Next year I’m building a better shelving-lighting system. The second most important thing is that unless I am using a self-watering system (which is what the zinnias and foxgloves were growing in), the other methods require a lot of attention: constant misting, watering, checking. Fertilizing is also easiest with the self-watering trays. You just put the fertilizer-water mix into the tray bottom, whereas with others you have to keep spraying the fertilizer from the top.

Anyway, all in all, it’s been a lot of extra work but I am going to get some flowers!