Sunday, 8 February 2015

Cold sowing time.

If you haven't already done so now is the time to get on with making cold sowings of hardy perennials, biennials, trees and shrubs. Last year I said never again, where can I put them all? and almost true to my word only raised a few plants from home collected seed. This year I have again surrendered to the pleasures and frustrations that can be had from raising plants from seed so have raided the society seed lists. The feeling of satisfaction one gets when you see seedlings emerging from seed which may have been sown three years before is indescribable, the whole process acts as a drug, you build up a backlog of "work in progress" over the years so there is always something new popping up whether it be current or from several years earlier.

All are sown in a screened general purpose compost with some added peat and vermiculite which I happened to have around, and then either watered into or covered with grit. The pots have not been sterilised but wiped out with an old rag before filling, I can't see the point of taking any special precautions unless you are in an environment such as a heated sterilised glasshouse. I do have a propagator but do not use it for these types of plant preferring to let nature to take its course.

Much has been said about society seed and I have had some disappointments over the years, not particularly with germination but with the seed not being as described on the tin, I know many people put in a great deal of effort to mange the seed-lists for which I am eternally grateful but results do vary. If you are interested in the types of plants I grow then I recommend the Scottish Rock Garden Club list for quality and accuracy, if you are going to a seed merchant try Plant World Seeds.  

There are four trays shown or 60 separate sowings and this isn't all! These are left on the bench of a cold poly-tunnel.They are in trays temporarily to stop inquisitive squirrels from knocking them off the staging.

The first sowings went in on January 1st. and the weather so far has been perfect with prolonged freezing temperatures which definitely help with the germination of many species, I have found that a mild winter can cause some to misfire and not germinate for a further twelve months. The key is of course fresh seed, no good buying seed of difficult to germinate genera from your local garden center as this will normally lead to disappointment.

I always have a bit of a "lucky dip" selection but notice this year's are predominantly bulb or corm seeds so these will be going under the bench along with any others that haven't germinated in early summer. 
Here is a selection of the seeds that have gone in this year:

Meconopsis(s) wallichii, staintonii, punicea, grandis, quintuplinervia.
Anemonopsis machrophylla.
Primula(s) stenodonta, miyabeana, forestii, daonensis, gemmifera zambalensis, tschuktschorum.
Aquilegia(s) bertolonii, fragrans.
Succisella inflexa Frosted Pearls.
Hylomecon japonica.
Phytolacca japonica.
Ammi majus.
Asarum caudatum.
Cryptotaenia japonica var. atropurpurea.
Geum montanum.
Jeffersonia dubia.
Lachenalia pustulata.
Lilium(s) davidii, oxypetalum insigne, pyrenaicum.
Cyclamen graecum × hederifolium.
Crocus speciosus.
Paeonia obovata alba.
With the cost of heating any form of outside protection having rocketed in recent years, it's not so much the actual germination but the growing on, cold sowing using society seed is an enjoyable and inexpensive way of either increasing your plant stock or just getting a few specimens of something which is not readily available and remember in some cases you are never quite sure what you are going to get, anything may emerge, which adds to the fun!