Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

Tag Archive: germination

Ammi Majus – Bishops Flower

I sowed a few of these seeds around the garden earlier in the month and they have already grown some vibrant ferny foliage. Today I have sown a few seeds in a 7″ pot with a view to eventually creating a large mixed container of Ammi and white Cleome and other tall white perennials. At present its just a plan but it’s something to look forward to.

Ammi Majus is among the best white filler-foliage plants available, lacy, elegant and splendid arranged in a great cloud on its own. Ammi is easy for beginners and perfect for attracting bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects. Ammi Majus seed can be sown from March to May or from late August to September. Seed is best sown in deep pots as it has a long taproot which is sensitive to disturbance and can be damaged when transplanting so care must be taken. Sow 6 to 8 weeks before planting out. When first true leaves appear transplant into larger containers. Harden off and plant out after last frost. Alternatively seeds can be sown where they are to flower once temperatures are around 15 to 20°C . Surface sow thinly  around 12″ apart and cover lightly. Keep moist. Germination normally occurs within 7 to 21 days. When large enough to handle thin out 8″ apart and provide support in exposed areas.

 

Germinating Parsnip Seed – Pastinaca sativa


I found this method of germinating parsnip seed online on the Gardeners World site and decided to have a go. Not with all my seed but just twenty as a test. I bought the seed from Seekay in a bag of 250 seeds. They are a variety called Guernsey. Complete disaster. No sign of seeds or seedlings.

Mixing the parsnip seed in the bag of seed compost

Part-fill a plastic bag with moist seed compost and empty your seed packet onto the surface. There is no point in successional sowing as you don’t need to harvest them all in one go. What’s more, parsnip seed stays viable for only one year, so saving seed could lead to wasting it. Mix the seed and compost together so the seed is evenly distributed in the bag. Tie the top of the bag together and place in a dark, warm spot such as your airing cupboard. Leave for around four days. After around four days, remove the bag from the airing cupboard and check on your seeds. They should have germinated, and small seedlings will be poking out of the compost.Make a shallow trench in well-prepared soil with stones removed. Remove the seedlings from the bag and place them 10cm apart in the trench. Cover with a thin layer of soil and water with a watering can with a fine rose attached. The seedlings should continue to grow in their new growing positions.

Parsnips are ancient vegetables that have been cultivated in Europe for over 500 years with the French recording named varieties as far back as 1393.  Guernsey dates back to pre 1826 and, even though the name suggests otherwise originated in France. It has been cultivated in Guernsey for generations where it is considered by farmers to be the most nutritious root known, superior even to the carrot and the potato. 
The roots of this heritage variety are shorter than many of today’s long hybrids, they are often called Guernsey Half Long because of this. The stumpy roots have broad shoulders and attractive smooth white skin and even without the vigour of an F1 hybrid the flavour doubly compensates. They are easy to grow once germinated they need little maintenance and can be left in the soil until ready to use. Plant in early spring, and harvest from autumn to the following spring. The parsnip tops are large and need a good 30cm room in each direction. The more room you give them the larger they will grow. Guernsey is a firm favourite with many. it is considered to be one of the very best roasting varieties, this reliable, sweet root vegetable is making a come back, with crop numbers  increasing all over the country. Info Seedaholic.com.

Well that’s twenty of my new Parsnip seeds completely wasted as there is no sign of anything in the bag. I am so glad I didn’t put them all in. Attempt two was the damp kitchen towel in a plastic box method. Two weeks on and no sign of chitting. Looks like no parsnips this year. Either my methods are rubbish or the seeds are. Either way it is getting too late to sow now.

Cosmos Purity

Sow Cosmos seed from March to May in seed compost and place the seed tray inside a polythene bag. Keep the soil damp but not wet. Do not exclude light as this aids germination which usually takes 7-15 days. When seedlings are large enough to handle transplant into 3″ pots and grow them on in cooler conditions until large enough to plant outdoors. When Cosmos plants are well grown and all risk of frost has passed acclimatise them to outdoor conditions over 7 to 10 days. Transplant outdoors in full sun in any moist, well drained soil 18″ apart. Pinch out the growing tip of each stem when transplanting to encourage stems to branch and produce more flowers. Deadheading will encourage new flowers. Information from T&M.

Today, 11th April, I have sown seeds of this elegant looking Cosmos, Purity onto some damp compost. I have also sprinkled a few seeds directly here and there in the garden so I am hopeful of getting some good results this year.

Sempervivum Hybridum – Hens and Chickens

I wanted to have a go at growing these unusual plants mainly because I can remember them from the garden at our prefab where I lived from the age of six months to twenty one when I left to get married. My mom always referred to them as hens and chickens. I ordered the seeds from Seekay at 99p for 250 seeds. when they came in a tiny plastic tube I was amazed at the size of the seeds. They are miniscule. Like dust. Today, 1st March, I have scattered a few onto a flat tray of sandy compost, not covered them but put the tray into a polythene sleeve and put in on the window ledge. This is another one on my wish list for around the pond. The soil is quite gritty there and I can place a few rocks for them to grow amongst. Update 7th March – Much to my surprise I was excited this morning to find that quite a few of these seeds had germinated. They are very tiny but gave me a bit of a lift this morning. 22nd March and these tiny seedlings haven’t moved on much. I have read that they are hardy plants but I suspect that the process of getting them to that point is a little more tricky.

Sempervivum hybridum is an old-fashioned favourite often seen in planters. Commonly referred to as Hens and Chicks, this perennial plant is unique and forms clusters of fleshy rosettes. The foliage colours can vary from greens to bronze-reds and all shades between. The succulent foliage spreads and produces a mat of foliage. It grows well in full sun to partial shade and prefers well-drained soil. Hens & Chicks ground cover seed can be started either indoors or directly outside. If starting inside, start the seed 6 – 8 weeks before the end of frost season. If starting outdoors, wait until frost danger has passed and soil temperatures have warmed to 70F. Press the seed into the soil but do not cover it. Keep the seed consistently moist until germination occurs which is usually within 21 days. For transplanting into the garden, wait until  after last frost and space the plants about 24 ” apart. Amazon.

Sempervivum means ‘always alive’. Also called houseleeks, Sempervivum are commonly grown in containers but they can thrive in bricks, driftwood and between rocks, due to their ability to grow in very little compost. South-facing rockeries, gravel gardens and vertical walls also make good habitats. They perform best in a sunny position in well-drained compost with sharp horticultural grit added for drainage. A layer of grit added to the surface of the compost further aids drainage.  Houseleeks are most valued for their distinctive rosettes of succulent, spirally patterned foliage, although they also bear attractive flowers from spring to summer. Each rosette is a separate plant and is monocarpic which means that it flowers once and then dies but is soon replaced by other new rosettes called offsets. These offsets can be separated and planted up, and will then grow into new clumps. Sempervivum don’t need feeding, but do benefit from being repotted each year into compost containing slow-release fertiliser. http://www.gardenersworld.com/plants/plant-inspiration/growing-sempervivums/.

Butternut Squash – Cucurbita Moschata

To date I have fifteen Butternut Squash seedlings potted up. These seeds were saved from a shop bought squash, left to dry out and then chitted between damp kitchen towel kept moist in a plastic food box. They germinated really quickly and by the time I potted them up they were already showing secondary root hairs and searching for nutrients. I may pot a couple of these up at home but the majority are destined to go to the allotment. Sown another fifteen germinated seeds today 15th Feb. I can’t see them all reaching maturity but there are still many chitted seeds left. I wish I knew  someone who needed some.

Butternut squash also known as gramma is a winter squash that grows on a vine. It has a sweet, nutty taste similar to that of a pumpkin.  It has tan-yellow skin and orange fleshy pulp with a compartment of seeds in the bottom. When ripe, it turns increasingly deep orange, and becomes sweeter and richer. It is a good source of fibre, magnesium and potassium. It is also a source of vitamins C, A & E.

Cornflower – Centaurea Cyanus

Centaurea cyanus, commonly known as cornflower, is an annual in the family Asteraceae, native to Europe. In the past it often grew as a weed in fields of grain. It is now considered to be endangered in its native habitat by over use of herbicides.  I am very familiar with these flowers but haven’t grown them from seed before. I have sown twenty each of Blue Ball and Black Ball, into a tray of moist compost. They shouldn’t need heat but do need light. These Annuals are usually sown directly into the garden in September but I am trying to start a few now. We shall see. 11th Feb – All of the seeds have germinated already after five days. 16th Feb – All potted on. Update = All of these seedlings have keeled over and died. I shall try direct sowing later.

Arenaria Montana – Mountain Sandwort

Arenaria Montana is a classic little alpine or rock garden plant. The plant has narrow, glossy green leaves that form prostrate mats of foliage that are evergreen. In mid-spring, Mountain Sandwort is blanketed by relatively large, white flowers.  Whilst it does best in full sun to partial shade, it is considered to be drought-tolerant. It is not fussy as to soil type or pH and is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution. Plants will grow to be only 2″ tall at maturity. Its foliage tends to remain low and dense to the ground and is slow growing. Their ground-hugging habit means that this useful plant can be used at the front of the border or, it can be used as a lawn substitute for low foot traffic areas. They are at their loveliest spilling over edges of walls and will quickly fill in spaces between stepping stones or trail down the sides of walls. RHS award 1993.

Sow in spring or in autumn. Prepare pots or trays with good free draining seed compost; moisten by standing in water, then drain. Surface sow two seeds per pot or cell and press them gently down to firm them in. Cover the seed with a fine layer of vermiculite if you have it.  Seal pots in a polythene bag or cover trays with clear plastic lids until after germination. It is important to keep soil slightly moist but not wet. Remove the covering once the first seedlings appear. Germination can take up to 30 days. If seeds do not germinate by 4 weeks remove pots/tray to a cool shaded area. Seedlings are usually large enough to handle after 4 weeks. Transplant the seedlings into 3½” pots. Two seedlings can be planted to one pot. Place the pots in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse to grow on.  Before transplanting outdoors, harden off gradually. They do best in moist but well draining soils.

Arenaria Montana has a shallow root system and can dry out very quickly. Cover substrate with vermiculite or mulch to retain water and keep your eye on small plants until they establish themselves. A relatively low maintenance perennial, simply remove damaged foliage in spring and fertilise with a complete balanced fertiliser, don’t fertilise after mid September. It should only be pruned after flowering to avoid removing any of the current season’s flowers.

Arenaria Montana is native to mountainous regions of south-western Europe from the Pyrenees of France to Portugal.

The genus name Arenaria is taken from the Latin arena meaning sand referring to the sandy habitats of many species. The species name Montana means simply ‘of the mountains’. Arenaria Montana is a member of the Caryophyllaceous family, a cousin of the popular Dianthus genus.

Today, 6th February, I sowed all twenty seeds received from Seekay at a cost of £1.22, I put them two to a module. Now I must wait for thirty days for germination. From past experience I know that Alpines aren’t easy to grow. We are planning on rebuilding the area around our old pond this year and these were  something I thought would be good there. Update 16th Feb – three green shoots showing after ten days.

Cerinthe Major Purpurascens – Honeywort

I haven’t grown these plants before and they first came to my attention whilst watching an episode of Life in a Cottage Garden. Carole Klein was extolling their virtues and showing us how to start them from seed. The plant, fully grown in her own garden, looked enormous but I decided then that I musts give them a try. I have put just two seeds into a little tepid water to soak and plan to sow them tomorrow, 6th February. The individual seeds are quite big. I bought mine from Higgledy at £1.99 for 10 seeds. There were actually 12 in the packet. Germination should be about two weeks. First seedling through after 8 days.

Cerinthe is a beautiful hardy annual. It has oval, fleshy blue-green leaves, mottled with white, and rich purple-blue, tubular flowers held inside sea blue bracts. Bees love it. For early blooms sow in pots indoors in early spring. Alternatively sow outdoors in April. Once introduced into the garden, self-sown seedlings will mean that it rarely disappears. information from BBC site.

Honeydew Melon – Try Try Try Again

Six chitted seeds from a shop bought Honeydew Melon have been placed into a module tray and covered in polythene. Germination was super quick, they had quite a long shoot emerging after two days.  4th Feb. If I can grow them on into a decently strong plant they can be put into the ground at the allotment. Apparently they need three months of growing time after this point. I have tried many times over the years but always directly into the ground. Second batch sown today 7th Feb.

White Cucumber – Cucumis Sativus

This year I am going to try and chit Cucumber seeds. I have put four each of White Wonder from Seekay and Long White from T&M in some damp kitchen towel and into a plastic food box. It is sitting on the computer box for a little warmth. They don’t usually take long to germinate any way, about 7-10 days. I have grown the Long White before and have yet to see a white Cucumber. Last year produced the best plants but they were destroyed following the torrential rain that we had here. I have prepared a 7″ pot of moist compost ready for the germinated seeds. The White Wonder are new seeds. Well, no luck with chitting so I have put them directly into pots. I’m worried now that I may have spoiled the seeds. Hope not as they are quite expensive as seeds go. The T&M Long White were £1.99 for 15 seeds. Seekay White Wonder were 20 for 65p. 10th February – all of the White Wonder are about two inches high but only one of the Long White through yet. (7 days) Having got to the end of April and only two seedlings left I have sown another pot of the long white today. The best plant, the Long White, got killed off by a frost when I put it out too soon and the other two, White Wonder, which are still inside, look very feeble even though one of them is already in flower. Well, at the end of the season we had no harvest from the Long White and though there were two strong looking plants from the White Wonder we only had two very small fruits. I’m not sure that I shall have another go next year. Time will tell.

This Half-hardy Annual, Greenhouse type Cucumber Long White is not just a novelty. The firm flesh is sweet and juicy with a pleasant tang that will add flavour to your salads. The tender, white skins are so thin that they won’t need peeling. This attractive variety is a good cropper when trained against supports in the greenhouse. Height 9′
The White Wonder are described as an excellent variety that produces creamy white fruits that reach approx. 20cm.
http://www.thompson-morgan.com/how-to-grow-cucumbers