Since the unusually cold weather has kept me indoors again, I thought I’d share a brief seed starting update.
By now, I’m usually out in the garden, “planting my peas on St. Patrick’s Day” and getting the new trellis system installed. But the cold – the cold! UGH! It’s been going into the low 20s at night and yesterday, the temperatures reached the mid-40s. This is January weather here in south central Virginia, not March weather!
Hopefully, by this weekend, the weather will warm up again. We are expecting a little bit more seasonal weather and I’m planning on planting those peas, as well as lettuce and radishes.
In the meantime, my seed starting update is positive.
The tomato seedlings are growing like crazy! I had an old package of “Early Girl” tomato seeds and decided to plant some just to see if they would grow. While older, opened packages of seeds often fail to germinate, not only did these seeds germinate but they seem healthy and vigorous. If I can only figure out how to keep the crows from eating the ripe tomatoes this year, I should have a good harvest.
Last year, I purchased clary sage seeds from Select Seeds. I grew about six or seven plants and gave a few away to friends who love herbs as much as I do. Six plants remain in my garden beds. To my surprise, those growing in the most neglected of the flower gardens – hot, dry, and without supplemental watering – grew the best. Any plant that thrives on neglect finds a place in my garden. I decided to plant the remaining seeds and see what germinated. So far we have about four more plants but it’s early days yet. I am hoping for more clary sage seedlings.
Can you see the tiniest little seed starting project above? Those tiny little plants are about the size of a grain of rice or smaller. This is St. John’s Wort. I purchased the seeds from Strictly Medicinal Seeds and plan to grow this beautiful, useful perennial both for the yellow flowers and for its medicinal properties. Although St. Johns Wort has received much attention as an antidepressant, the flowers can be made into a useful antibacterial/antimicrobial salve and tincture.
My brother photographed mature St. Johns Wort plants in Maine and they were so beautiful I decided to add the plant to my own garden this year. This will go in the new perennial garden area we cleared this winter. The flowers remaining in that garden are all yellow, and I plan on a yellow and blue theme with St. Johns Wort, daylilies, and irises as the yellows and plenty of salvia and sage for the blue-colored flowers.
Here’s a picture of this year’s seed starting tower in my basement. The plants on the bottom shelves are just a few African violets that have been repotted or need repotting. African violets love fluorescent lights and will frequently produce buds and flowers if you move them under brighter lights. I am growing these violets for the Heart of Virginia Master Gardener plant sale this spring, so by May, I hope they are nicely greened up and blooming.
That’s all that’s happening here at Seven Oaks Farm. I had hoped to get outside and put up that new trellis system but it will have to wait until it is warmer out. I hope your seed starting projects are going well. Happy gardening, and keep growing!
Jeanne Grunert is a certified Virginia Master Gardener and the author of several gardening books. Her garden articles, photographs, and interviews have been featured in The Herb Companion, Virginia Gardener, and Cultivate, the magazine of the National Farm Bureau. She is the founder of The Christian Herbalists group and a popular local lecturer on culinary herbs and herbs for health, raised bed gardening, and horticulture therapy.