OK, a record 2 feet of snow in less than a week? It’ll melt soon and it is time to sow the seeds of 2013’s growing season at Powell Gardens. Powell Gardens’ 8 greenhouses are nearing capacity as the crops for 2013 germinate and grow. Here’s the process of how our seeds are sown.
Yikes, what’s that contraption Greenhouse Production Horticulturist Donna Covell is holding that looks like a baking pan connected to a vacuum? It’s our handy, dandy E Z Seeder! The various pans contains a grid of holes that correspond to a seed flat’s grid of planting plugs. Just place your seeds in the pan, turn on the vacuum and it sucks the seeds to all the grid holes. Place the pan over the corresponding flat, turn off the suction and the seeds fall into place. It’s much easier than planting each plug by hand!
Here are some newly sown flats, you can clearly see the zinnia seeds in the far flat as they look like teeny, tiny yellow bananas. These seeds are ready to be lightly covered with a special seedling soil mix.
Once planted flats are covered with soil (just a few varieties are germinated on the soil’s surface without a covering of soil) the flats are placed on carts — the green cart is destined for our special seedling oven as those varieties will need warmer temperatures to germinate while the cart in the back left is destined for Greenhouse #4 where we position most of our seed flats for germination.
Here’s a Greenhouse #4 bench filled with germinating plug tray seed flats. It sort of reminds me of fields in miniature!
Some seeds are not sown into little plug trays but into little boxes like these germinating begonias. The little seedlings are then carefully pricked from here and planted into larger plug trays for their next stage of growth.
Here are little seedling plugs of Alyssum that are already starting to bloom. Plants at this stage are usually moved into larger containers so that they will be instant specimen plants when we plant them out in the garden. In this case, these little alyssum are destined to be planted in our Living Room conservatory display (Opening March 16th)where live plants adorn all the features of a room from furniture and rugs to topiary pets!
This image of Greenhouse #4 shows newly transplanted seedlings in the foreground to various stages of growth and even bloom in the background. Tiny fields of flowers that will grace our gardens this spring and summer.
The violas are blooming! There is hope for spring and hard to believe these are destined to be planted outdoors in just a couple of weeks! Knowing our manic-depressive climate it will probably be 80F degrees then.
Our crops of leafy greens are also hardy enough to be planted outside in just a couple of weeks. Now doesn’t this scene of lettuces, parsley, mustards and others make your mouth water? We actually grow these edibles for both the Heartland Harvest Garden where it is meant for consumption as well as around the Visitor Center and Kauffman Memorial Gardens where they are used as ornamentals.
We grow (from seed) spectacular cabbages and kales in large gallon containers to produce gorgeous plants for planting out in a couple of weeks. Greenhouse #3 is full of these spectacular and tasty beauties.
This little flowers are Streptocarpus we grew from seed. They will be used in the Conservatory Display here and at the Kauffman Memorial Garden.
Gloxinias are an “old-fashioned” crop you just don’t see anymore and I am glad we grew some for show this year.
These lovely Primrose are Primula obconica we grew from seed. They make a great floral crop for winter with spectacular flowers that last a long time and do well in the season’s light and temperatures. Their only drawback is that many people are sensitive to touching these plants — they sure are pleasing to our eyes and look for these in our conservatory display as well.
Violas are some of our hardiest floral crops and YES, destined for planting outdoors in just a couple weeks once Mother Nature decides it’s spring. Look for these cuties around the Visitor Center and in containers throughout Powell Gardens. Many of our Violas and pansies were planted last fall and survived the winter just fine — ready for a spectacular bloom as soon as the snow melts.
Remember all the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today and Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul (John Muir). We are doing our best at growing a plethora of beautiful and edible plants for Powell Gardens. I hope your experiences at Powell Gardens this next season will be inspired by these glorious plants. Many thanks to our Greenhouse growers who are busy behind the scenes to plant and nurture all these plants as well.