Mill Pond Flower Farm

Beautiful flowers grown in the Scottish Borders


When to Plant Seeds

Posted on 28 December, 2017 at 14:35


How to Ignore all Sensible Advice

In the run up to Christmas, there's always plenty to do, last minute shopping, presents to wrap, Christmas cake to decorate, seeds to sow. Of that little list, guess which one got done? Yes, it's the seed sowing. The Christmas cake is still bare and looks a bit like a very large mushroom, iced on the top half and maripan only from half way down the sides.

Any book, seed packet or expert will tell you to plant flower seeds in the Spring, starting around March, or waiting until the soil is nicely warm. They might also add that some can be attempted in September, but not a single resource will advise planting in late December. So why on earth was I planting cornflowers when I should have been turning icing into snow peaks and creating patterns with silver balls?

While growing flowers for sale for a number of years I've been watching and noting how nature does it. There is an unwritten law in flower farming that states the strongest plants are the ones that are self seeded, the ones that pop up in late spring and do so much better than the ones we carefully plant, cosset and nurture, protecting from winds and hailstones. The 'volunteers' just appear, grow away and flower beautifully. I usually find them in sheltered spots in late march, already with a few months growth behind them and unbothered by the cold and wet of a Scottish winter, so I'm working on imitating nature, to grow the earliest and strongest hardy flowers possible.

A carefully selected clutch of seeds were gathered, sown into seed compost and placed into the heated propogator. The criteria for the choice of seeds is 

  • those that will happily self seed outside - very hardy annuals such as godetia, cornflower, nigella
  • tricky germinators that often take a long time to appear - orlaya, bells of Ireland, larkspur
  • hardy perennials needing a period of cold - astrantia, delphinium, helenium
After 3 days the first ones were through and have been moved into the polytunnel. The key is to make sure they stay cool once germinated so there is no chance for leggy or weak growth. Slowly does it, with plenty of opportunity to develop strong roots and the plants are ready to shoot off at the first sign of Spring. The 2018 season is already under way here at Mill Pond Flower Farm!

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