We’ve started sowing our seeds and the first succession of lilies are starting to sprout! February in northeast Missouri is pretty bleak, and cloudy with average lows often dipping close to 0°F. For the past two years, we’ve even had lows that have dipped into the negatives. There is not much to do and if there was, you’d probably be iced in anyway. But guess what? Despite all the winter weather, I love February because this is the month that we really amp up our seed starting!
This February we are concentrating on raising healthy transplants that will be our cool flower crop. Cool flowers are cool-season hardy annuals such as stock, snapdragons, and sweet peas. These are the plants that will be the first to go into the beds that we prepared last fall. Transplants that thrive in the cool weather of late winter and early spring will develop a strong root system before they have to compete with weeds and warm weather, ensuring they have the foundation they need to take on all spring and summer throws their way.
For the last two years we have used a mixture of Promix, perlite, and compost to start our seeds. We really like this soil mix as it holds its shape for our soil blocks and retains moisture well. This is especially important since we have to haul each tray from the cooler in the design studio to the sink inside the house twice a week to water them. Yeah, I know the exercise will do me good, but when it’s icy and snowy it’s not very fun. Anyway, the seedlings seem to do well in this mix, so we will continue to use it.
To germinate the seeds, we plant them according to the package directions and place the tray onto a couple warming mats that are 48” x 20.75”. Once most of the seeds have started growing, we move them to the cooler/grow room under grow lights that are on for 16 hours a day. Next, they will move to our little heated greenhouse during the day and then hauled back to the grow room to spend the night.
So far, we have started around 500 ranunculus and sweet peas, around a thousand stock, and loads of snapdragons. These amounts do not include the ranunculus, tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths we planted in the fall or what plugs we have ordered that will be shipped in over the next couple of months. We’re going to be super busy and I’m looking forward to every moment of it!
Until next time, keep spreading joy!