I’ve tried to leave the computer and get outside to plant some wildflower seeds this morning. I’ve had the seeds since last year. It’s been hard to get outside because I’ve been distracted by website problems and successes. Backyard Hencam (for chicken lovers) is still having its share of problems with cameras but Garden with Chickens (don’t click it, you’re on it) is picking up readers (probably due to interest in spring gardening). I was excited this morning to get a comment from Lorilee in Texas. I seldom get comments. It is so nice to know that someone “out there” reads what I put on this site. If you want to leave a comment for me just click on “Comment” at the top of the post.
Now, about those wildflower seeds. I bought them last year when the garden club was selling them as a fundraiser. The seed mix is a combination of natives of the west coast and English wildflowers. There are bachelor button, wallflower, cosmos, California poppy, flax, alyssum, arroyo lupin, Shirley poppy, and nasturtium in the mix. Some of them, like bachelor button, poppies, alyssum, and wallflower did well last year, but I didn’t see “hide nor hare” of lupin and flax plants. I have good success with wildflowers only when I do the following: clear soil of weeds, lightly amend soil with compost, rough up soil to the depth of 3 inches, sprinkle seeds, rake to cover, and keep damp until they sprout. Even though these are wildflowers, I don’t leave it up to Mother Nature.
Some will tell you to throw out leftover seeds at the end of each season. But, the fact is, if stored properly, seeds are good for many years. Research says that they lose viability (ability to sprout) at about 10% a year. Seeds that are three years old will still germinate at about a 70% rate. You can test old seeds. Take a damp paper towel. Put 10 seeds on it. Fold the paper towel. Put into a plastic bag (don’t seal). Keep damp and at room temperature. In about a week, carefully unfold the towel and check the seeds. Some should be sprouting. If 5 sprout, you have a 50% germination. Leave it for another few days and check again. You can plant according to the germination rate. Remember the old American saying, “One for the rock, one for the crow, one for the cutworm, and one to grow.”