Home Thuis tuinieren getting organized for seed season, with ken druse

getting organized for seed season, with ken druse

getting organized for seed season, with ken druse

IF YOU THINK nothing’s on the to-do listing in winter, fellow gardeners—that we’re all meant to be dormant, just like the cannas within the cellar and the herbaceous perennials outdoors and the flower beds—effectively, suppose once more.

Most of us in colder zones, particularly, is probably not actively prepping or planting open air in the meanwhile, in fact. However even inside the realm of seed-related actions alone, there’s a lot wanting our consideration.

That’s what Ken Druse and I spotted once we acquired to speaking seeds the opposite day on the cellphone. And one factor led to a different, and although it’s not but full-on seed-starting time, we discovered ourselves with a listing of duties—and no, not simply the duty of seed buying (although he did seek out seed for Eryngium leavenworthii, above).

Ken Druse is an outdated good friend, the creator of 20 gardening books, and my collaborator on our Digital Backyard Membership on-line class sequence. And he’s at present sorting by way of leftover seeds, and in addition a pile of seed catalogs, over at his New Jersey dwelling. Seedy duties for winter days was the topic of our dialog.

Learn alongside as you hearken to the Jan. 15, 2023 version of my public-radio present and podcast utilizing the participant under. You may subscribe to all future editions on Apple Podcasts (iTunes) or Spotify (and browse my archive of podcasts right here).

fascinated about seeds, with ken druse



Margaret Roach: How’s it going over there, Ken?

Ken Druse: Hello, Margaret. Did you get some snow lastly?

Margaret: Oh my goodness, the very first winter day. I suppose we acquired 8 eight or 10 inches.

Ken: Good for you.

Margaret: One thing like that.

Ken: And now it’s 45 levels and the whole lot’s melting.

Margaret: Yeah, it hasn’t warmed fairly that a lot but, however sure. Sure, it can. After which we’re imagined to have excessive winds and no matter. Yay! I feel there’s a stretch of chilly climate coming for a lot of the Northeast after this week, in order that’ll be fascinating to see. So how are you doing together with your seedy duties?

Ken: I believed that there was nothing to do-

Margaret: Proper.

Ken: … this time of 12 months.

Juliet small paste tomatoesMargaret: Proper. And it’s not simply seedy duties, both. It’s like with the bizarre climate that we had been simply talking about for a second, which has principally been unseasonably heat until now, I’m sort of anxious about among the stuff that’s in storage each in my barn and within the cellar. Are you aware what I imply? The temperatures aren’t proper in these locations. And by “proper,” I imply typical in these locations.

Ken: Nicely, I’m glad that we’ve some snow as a result of we haven’t had snow for a few years, measurable snow, and I at all times suppose snow: good. That’s the blanket, the insulating blanket for the crops. They accomplish that a lot better once they have snow. Though it’s melting, I feel we’ll nonetheless have a couple of inches on the bottom, in order that’s good. And I believed, “Nicely, I’m going to develop these fantastic tomatoes that I grew final 12 months.” The ‘Juliet,’ proper, that you just advisable (above). They usually had been so profitable. They’re like big grape tomatoes, or very small or tiny plum tomatoes.

Margaret: Sure.

Ken: So I went to the place I believed the seeds had been from final 12 months as a result of I had a lot left over, and I couldn’t discover them.

Margaret: Oops!

Ken: So I appeared one other place, and one other place, and I ended up with—I don’t know—six jars with seed packets, after which all of the seed packets of issues I had harvested from the backyard in a field in one other place. And I took an image (above), which I feel I despatched you, after which I’ve nonetheless discovered extra since then.

So I’ve acquired to get this below management. I’ve acquired to label the seeds in the event that they’re not labeled, put the date on and perhaps the place they got here from. Positively the date, boy. Particularly on my seeds.

Margaret: Particularly on those you’ve saved your self.

Ken: Yeah, and perhaps the date to sow them, proper on the packet, which I can get out of your calculator.

Margaret: Proper. I’ve the on-line seed-starting calculator.

It’s such as you simply wish to have a look at the brand new catalogs, and there’s that temptation, however… It jogs my memory of the whole lot in life. I wish to… (Laughter.) “Ooh, have a look at, perhaps I’ll get a brand new sweater.” Nicely, what, Margaret? Have a look at the sweater drawer, and the way’s that wanting? ‘Trigger it’s wanting a little bit of a multitude.

And I’m simply making up one instance, however it’s pare down, tidy up, set up, make an evaluation of the standing of what’s readily available in all of these items in our lives. And then act, proper? To complement or pare down, or once more, much more or no matter; decide. However yeah, I’ve some seeds right here or there and all over the place, too, I feel.

Ken: I’ve two units of garments. Garments that match and garments that I hope sometime will match once more.

Margaret: Oh, I see. Two wardrobes. O.Okay. (Laughter.) So that you’ve been doing that. And once more, with the climate and stuff, I maintain considering, “Oh, I must test within the barn.” As a result of I’ve all my Japanese maples on the market and I’ve…

So it isn’t simply the place are my seed packets, and what do I want and never must order once more. But it surely’s additionally simply sort of taking stock of among the resting issues. Proper? Like I went-

Ken: Examine on dormant issues. That’s proper.

Margaret: Yeah, as a result of I went within the cellar and I’ve loads of tubers and various things, bulbs. I’ve all my cannas down there and so forth, and I believed, “It’s not as cool because it normally is; it’s simply not.” And I believed, “Nicely, perhaps I’m going to place a bit of little bit of… Perhaps a fabric excessive of a few of these issues, to maintain a bit of moisture in, so to talk.” And yeah. Have you ever been any of that stuff?

Ken: No (laughter), however perhaps after we discuss. I maintain the Eucomis, the pineapple lilies, of their pots, and I allow them to go utterly dry once they’re dormant. However up to now I’ve had issues go so dry that both they’ve desiccated utterly, which doesn’t occur fairly often, or they get a sluggish begin; they’re small. Nicely, final 12 months among the Eucomis didn’t bloom in any respect, and I feel it’s as a result of they acquired too dry. So I’m simply going to go test. I don’t wish to water them like regular in the summertime in any respect, however it’s only a sprinkle. So the medium is dry, however not desert bone dry.

Margaret: Proper. Proper.

Ken: Which occurs, particularly when the warmth’s on in the home, although they’re in a spot the place there isn’t any supplemental warmth, however it’s nonetheless… Normally it’s 40 levels, and this 12 months it’s 50 levels.

Margaret: So it’s a very good time to do this as effectively. Kind of test that stock as effectively. It’s barely totally different from checking what seeds we’ve readily available. However nonetheless essential, as a result of that is our inventory, and people might be costly to switch, that’s for certain.

Ken: Nicely, we’ve talked about storing… I do know you retailer your Japanese maples, deciduous issues, within the full chilly. And that’s principally so the pots gained’t break, I think about. Nicely, partially for that.

Margaret: Proper. It’s an unheated barn. Sure, precisely.

Ken: However I’ve acquired evergreens.

Margaret: And I’ve a pair additionally in there. Sure.

Ken: Oh, yeah? Good. I’ve a banana shrub, which is Magnolia figo, which is a broadleaf evergreen. And it does so effectively, simply takes a bit of nap. After which I convey it out within the spring and it blooms and the whole lot. It doesn’t even drop the buds. Illicium, are you aware what Illicium is?

Margaret: Yeah. I don’t know what it’s common-

Ken: Hardy anise. Yeah, anise, the spice comes from Illicium and I’ve Illicium parviforum, and it has yellow leaves which are enticing they usually additionally scent nice, the leaves do. So these are a few issues that I’m going to test on.

You’ve gotten a fig tree.

Margaret: Proper. I’ve a minimum of one huge fig in there. After which there’s a conifer or two. And people are tough as a result of these should not awake, however they’ve foliage. So to start with, I place these close to a window within the barn, so that there’s some mild. I imply, clearly it’s not a lot mild, however it’s a bit of mild. And people, I fear in the event that they get a cue from I don’t know what temperature, mild, daylength—who is aware of what—to begin to get up a bit of bit. I fear as a result of they’ve all that foliage on that they might actually dry out badly, get harmed.

Ken: And you may’t let the medium in these pots dry out utterly.

Margaret: No, however I can’t water them, both—totally water them. That’s an issue, too.

So anyway, again to seeds, actually, you’ve form of taken inventory of the whole lot. And are you doing germination exams, or what do you do subsequent?

Ken: Subsequent I clear up the place I’m going to sow those that I sow indoors, and in addition be aware of those which are going to be sown open air. And a few of these can get sown instantly. After which we talked within the final class a bit of bit about winter sowing, and we’re going to speak about that extra.

Margaret: You imply in our Digital Backyard Membership lessons on-line?

Ken: Proper. And I’m doing a little seeds within the empty milk jugs. Nicely, they’re empty till I fill them. I’ve one set on the market already…and label them! You know the way you sow one thing and also you suppose you’re going to recollect what it was?

Margaret: Yeah, yeah. Certain.

Ken: Label, label, label. I never-

Margaret: It’s so essential. So that you mentioned you’re form of getting this spot prepared, your indoor seed-sowing gear, you’re getting that each one prepared. And so are you utilizing the identical germinating combine that you just’ve at all times used, or are you experimenting like so many individuals now with much less peat?

Ken: I’m going to make use of the Johnny’s combine as a result of I’ve some left over from final 12 months, and I’ve saved it closed. And I do know it’s a peat-lite combine, has different issues in it, too. So I’m not going to be experimenting this 12 months. I’ve executed coir. I haven’t tried the one with the paper referred to as PittMoss.

Margaret: PittMoss, proper, a model that’s I feel recycled composted newspaper perhaps, or one thing like that. And yeah, there’s every kind of various issues. Natural Mechanics is one other model that has alternate options, coir and different components in it, that aren’t peat. I’ve a small bag every of a few various things, and I’m tinkering.

So if folks wish to strive, and we at all times warn: Don’t 100% change over if you happen to don’t know what a combination goes to be like, as a result of they’ve totally different properties. And the watering, and the way the seeds reply to them could also be totally different. So don’t lose all of your seeds (laughter) by selecting a combination that doesn’t fit your care routine. So that you’re getting all that prepared and I assume-

Ken: Yeah, so really I’m really sowing for the hardy annuals. And-

Margaret: So that you’re winter sowing some stuff.

Ken: Hardy perennials and hardy biennials. Nicely, perhaps some tender perennials, too. I imply issues like 4 o’clocks, we deal with them as annuals, however they’re perennials, they’re simply not utterly hardy. So-

Margaret: Not the place we’re. Proper.

Ken: Proper. Attempting a few of these. And I do know you might do issues like spinach fairly quickly.

Margaret: Nicely, the very first thing I at all times sow will probably be onions and their family members, leeks, indoors. And that’s not till February normally right here.

However what I discovered when it comes to once I appeared round and had that epiphany, what you had been speaking about the place you discovered seeds all over and I discovered my little stashes right here and there. And I sort of appeared on the dates and noticed, “O.Okay., I’ve loads of this, I’ve loads of that, however I’m going to want this and I’m going to want that as a result of these are too outdated.”

What I discovered is that there have been sure issues that I at all times want would self-sow outdoors. Talking of winter sowing, as a result of the pure model of winter sowing is issues that self-sow very well, like loads of annual poppies do, and Verbena bonariensis does, and I don’t know, larkspur I suppose… I’m considering off the highest of my head of issues.

My angelica, Angelica gigas (above), does and so forth. However generally they don’t sow the place you need them, or within the density the place you need them, proper? They’ve a thoughts of their very own, in fact, from 12 months to 12 months. And also you wish to sort of change that up a bit of bit.

And I believed, “You understand, Margaret, there’s a few these form of areas the place…” I’ve one with the tall verbena, the Verbena bonariensis, and I really need it thickened up. I would like extra crops on this one space that’s between some pavement cracks and crevices. (Beneath, V. bonariensis with a spicebush swallowtail butterfly at Margaret’s.)

And I believed, “Purchase a packet of seats earlier than you overlook.” This was final fall, once I was sort of cleansing up the world, and I used to be considering, “It’s too sparse right here.”

And similar with Nicotiana. I used to be form of considering, “O.Okay., I had lots this 12 months, as I’ve had for 20-something years, self-sowns, however I don’t have sufficient of the darkish colours anymore. And I don’t have sufficient of the actually tall ones.” I imply, a few of them may get to be 6 ft—5 actually, and even sometimes 6, however like 5 ft for certain. And I believed, “You understand what? It’s time to repopulate this a bit of bit, add a bit of little bit of extra genetics into the combo once more, refresh it.” And once more, heavy it up within the areas the place it’s getting sparse. I would like extra of an oomph sort of look. So I purchased some Nicotiana and I purchased some Verbena bonariensis.

When would you sow these? Would you sow these—earlier than a late snow or one thing in late winter or when?

Ken: I’d sow the Nicotiana proper now. And perhaps not all of them. Perhaps do some extra… Do them each three weeks or one thing. I imply Nicotiana goes to be advantageous, as . You had been speaking concerning the Verbena bonariensis, a plant I can not develop. I get these stunted little crops. There’s some sort of… It’s not a illness, it’s some sort of critter that assaults them.

Margaret: Oh, fascinating.

Ken: And ruins the leaves. And I at all times get a few crops from final 12 months’s crops. However I used to be considering, have you ever ever tried the brand new quick ones (like ‘Lollipop’)?

Margaret: I’ve seen that. I’ve seen this new selection that’s a scaled-down model, and I’ve by no means. And I believed, “Nicely, however I like the way it’s…” Nicely, the widespread title is tall verbena.

Ken: They’re like wands, with the flowers.

Margaret: The tall one might be hip peak and even taller, and I actually love that. However perhaps there’s some use for that, the shorter one. Perhaps I would love it, or mix the 2. I don’t know. I haven’t tried it. Perhaps I ought to add that to my order.

However like I mentioned, I actually needed, with Nicotiana, I needed among the darker ones. There’s ‘Sizzling Chocolate’ and ‘Chocolate Chip.’ There’s one referred to as Evening Flight, ‘Choose Evening Flight.’ Choose Seeds had it, and that’s one that may get to be 5 ft or extra. And it has darkish… These all have darkish flowers. (Above, ‘Choose Chocolate Chip’ in picture from Choose Seeds.)

And so we’ll see if the experiment works. Proper? If the place I put them they take, they usually convey again the look that I had 10 years in the past once I had extra of that within the inhabitants. As a result of when issues self-sow, they categorical totally different traits. It’s not like a hybrid the place it’s the identical factor yearly, the place you purchase a pack of seeds yearly and also you get the very same factor. It’s not like that.

Ken: F1, the tomatoes for the primary cross.

Margaret: Have you ever ordered something or are you in search of something the way in which I used to be in search of these two explicit issues?

Ken: Nicely, I noticed a few issues. I noticed one factor this 12 months, which I’ve by no means grown from seed. Which is we used to name it periwinkle, and we used to name it vinca. These widespread names are so nugatory, however it’s Catharanthus (under).

Margaret: Catharanthus. Yeah.

Ken: Catharanthus roseus.

Margaret: So certainly one of its widespread names was vinca, however it’s not a vinca vine in the identical approach. Huh. It’s a lookalike sort of?

Ken: Nicely, it’s shrubby. It’s like a-

Margaret: Does the flower seem like a vinca?

Ken: I suppose it does, I suppose. However I noticed one-

Margaret: What attracted you?

Ken: It’s like the colour of grape jelly, form of. And even blackberries with a bit of white eye and it was… I shouldn’t say it, drop-dead beautiful. That’s what it-

Margaret: Do you bear in mind the place you discovered it?

Ken: Yeah, I noticed it at my good friend’s backyard, she had it in a pot and she or he used to work at a nursery. So I believed, “I’ve acquired to trace this down.” And I did. I tracked it down from seed, so I’m going to strive that.

And final 12 months I noticed one thing that simply knocked me out, which was Eryngium, like a thistle. It’s Eryngium leavenworthii (picture, prime of web page). And it’s an annual, in order that’s all I used to be fascinated about. Oh, it’s an annual and it’s magenta and it’s like a bit of thistle and it’s actually lovely. And then you definately mentioned to me once we had been speaking about it some time again,  “Like Kansas,” and I believed, “It is a native plant and it’s an annual?” ‘Trigger you by no means take into consideration… Nicely, California poppies, however that’s not that chilly. However you don’t take into consideration a plant from a chilly place that’s an annual. I don’t consider that.

Margaret: Yeah, the Eryngium leavenworthii, the leavenworthii tipped me off that it was in all probability from someplace within the center or south of the US. And certain sufficient, it’s all through Texas and elsewhere form of above that. And it’s nice. Now you mentioned magenta—I consider it as sort of like a stunning purplish virtually. I don’t know. It’s actually vivid no matter it’s.

Ken: Vivid is a good phrase for it. Visitors-stopping vivid.

Margaret: And I’m wondering if… Will it self-sow? So that you grew it first time final 12 months, did you say?

Ken: Proper, so I saved seed and I additionally purchased seed. Nicely, that’s one other story. So I couldn’t discover the tomato seeds. I couldn’t discover another seeds in packets. So I believed, “I’ve acquired to get these once more earlier than they’re offered out.” So I ordered ‘Juliet,’ I ordered ‘Solar Gold’ tomato. I ordered a couple of extra issues: $30. After which in fact, the subsequent day I discovered them.

Margaret: In fact you probably did. Sure. It’s sort of like once I discover my glasses ’trigger I used to be on the lookout for them for an hour, however I used to be carrying them (laughter). It’s not normally an hour, it’s normally 5 minutes. However anyway, you get the thought.

Ken: It doesn’t value $30.

Margaret: No, however it’s fairly humorous. It embarrasses me for a minimum of $30 price of embarrassment. So yeah, the Eryngium are nice. I imply, generally they self-sow to a fault. I like… I don’t know if anybody’s ever seen, talking of native ones, Eryngium yuccifolium, the rattlesnake grasp.

Ken: Wow. Sure.

Margaret: Huge, tall and silvery, loopy thistly-like heads. And that sharp foliage, that’s widespread to Eryngium additionally. And that’s actually dramatic and fantastic, extra for a meadow-y state of affairs, sort of a wilder space, I feel, as a result of once more, it’s going to self-sow.

However yeah, I’m stalking seed of tassel flower, Emilia coccinea (above, picture from Choose Seeds).

Ken: Oh, that’s fairly. And that’s self-sows generally, too.

Margaret: I didn’t have any self-sow, however I grew it in an enormous container once I grew it a few years in the past. After which in fact, these are issues that you just’re not going to seek out on the backyard heart, and that’s why we’re mentioning be looking out for seed. As a result of if you happen to simply need common marigolds of a standard selection, and there’s loads of nice ones, or orange zinnias or yellow zinnias, you’re going to have the ability to discover these. So if you happen to don’t get them otherwise you don’t have room to start out them, O.Okay., you’ve a backup on the backyard heart.

However with a few of these stuff you don’t. Just like the annual vines. Numerous occasions they simply don’t have the choice that I would like and the form of extra uncommon ones. However the Emilia, the 12 months I grew that… It has these little, prefer it says, tassel flowers, like fire-engine orange-y crimson. There’s a few totally different varieties and so forth, totally different shades. However this one pot of them, I imply the pearl crescent butterflies had been overlaying it the entire summer time through the bloom time. It was wonderful. And I see that Choose Seeds firm has it. So I’m going to undoubtedly get a packet of that.

Have you ever ever grown calendula? As a result of I miss mine; I used to at all times have calendula self-sowing in my vegetable backyard for a few years. And it’s an edible flower as effectively, in addition to being sort of insect pleasant and so forth.

Ken: Typically they name it pot marigold.

Margaret: Sure, precisely.

Ken: You may add it to soups. And there’s some actually cool, wild ones in sundown colours now, too. Used to simply be… They appeared like marigolds, however now there’s some extra fascinating ones. Sure. Years in the past I grew them and I feel I sowed them open air ’trigger they’re cold-tolerant. They’re hardy annuals, I suppose.

Solar Flashback calendula Wild Garden SeedMargaret: Sure. And they also’re straightforward. And the nice factor is you are able to do a succession. So you are able to do them actually early and have form of spring into early summer time. And then you definately would possibly a second succession of peas, such as you’re going to do fall peas, you might do fall calendula. You would sow extra calendulas and have a second crop. You would do this with loads of annuals. However they’re actually good for that as a result of they like that cooler season, once more. There’s one, once more I feel it’s from Choose Seeds, it’s referred to as ‘Radio,’ and it’s like a cactus-shaped flower. It seems like a cactus flower. What would you say, dahlias are available cactus flowers and a few zinnias, I feel, that cactus-shaped flower.

And it’s brilliant orange and it’s simply so distinctive. And I believed, “Oh wow.” There’s loads of bicolored ones with type, the backs of the petals are a special shade. It’s the Flashback Sequence from Frank Morton at Wild Backyard Seeds. And also you’ll see these in different catalogs as effectively. I imply, there’s loads of actually dramatic ones. (Above, his ‘Photo voltaic Flashback.’)

So within the final couple of minutes, what about… What different issues, anything that you just’re… I used to be Nigella the opposite day. I haven’t grown that in one million years.

Ken: I had Nigella and it was so weedy and there have been so many.

Margaret: It was?

Ken: Yr after 12 months, however after about in all probability 10 years gone, by no means noticed them once more.

Margaret: And that’s what occurred right here, too. I had it for a very long time after which by no means once more. I used to be considering of nasturtiums, too, as a result of you’ll be able to simply sort of direct-sow them after the large frost hazard’s previous, and you can begin them a few weeks forward of time. However there’s sort of trailing ones, the longer trailing ones, what’s it, Tropaeolum majus, I feel is the species. However then there’s the Tropaeolum minus which are extra mounding, which are sort of extra petite.

Ken: I don’t know.

Margaret: They usually’re nice. Like edgers and…

Ken: Edible, too.

Margaret: Edible, too. For the sides of pots, and the colours now are astonishing. So anyway, you might simply get… So that you wish to inform us anything? You’re nonetheless in your to-do listing over there.

Ken: I’m fascinated about what we’ve been speaking about this time of 12 months and a few seed… Nicely, learn the packets, as a result of some seeds… They name it stratification. They want the chilly.

Margaret: To germinate, proper.

Ken: To germinate. So be certain you learn that as a result of perhaps it’s the time of 12 months to sow some seeds and it’ll inform you that on the again of the packet in all probability.

Margaret: Or to pre-chill them by placing them in a no matter it says. Put them in a plastic bag within the fridge. I imply, it’ll inform you among the methods you are able to do it.

Ken: It’s normally not freeze, however usually refrigerate.

Margaret:. Precisely. All proper, so learn our packets. I feel Choose Seeds and I feel Johnny’s, too, each have actually good rising data. Each of these have actually good directions and inform these particulars like that.

desire the podcast model of the present?

MY WEEKLY public-radio present, rated a “top-5 backyard podcast” by “The Guardian” newspaper within the UK, started its 14th 12 months in March 2023. It’s produced at Robin Hood Radio, the smallest NPR station within the nation. Hear domestically within the Hudson Valley (NY)-Berkshires (MA)-Litchfield Hills (CT) Mondays at 8:30 AM Japanese, rerun at 8:30 Saturdays. Or play the Jan. 15, 2023 present utilizing the participant close to the highest of this transcript. You may subscribe to all future editions on iTunes/Apple Podcasts or Spotify (and browse my archive of podcasts right here).


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