Seedling update


Sooo, in late November I sowed the seeds I had ordered from Larner Seeds. Here's the list again: 
The photo above is from the cry-for-help post in mid-December, when it was obvious I had far too many seedlings in each pot. Country Mouse rescued me by providing more pots and some soil mix, and I spent some time during the holiday break dividing and repotting the seedlings.


Right before I left for India I prepared 3 posts so it wouldn't look as if noone was home. And a good thing that was, because just at that time the Please Rob Me website  was launched. This site illustrates how easy it can be to determine that someone is not at home. An encouragement to consider privacy issues, which one sometimes forgets. But because Country Mouse published my posts, nicely spaced, everyone thought I was home, if a little slow.

No matter, back to the seedlings. I had also planted about half of the seedlings in the ground. When I returned (February 4), the Clarkia had grown to look like this:

The Clarkia in the ground had been nibbled somewhat, but enough of those seedlings survived to give me hope.

The chinese houses in the pots had grown nicely. 


But I'm sorry to report the chinese houses in the ground were no more. Everything was eaten. I suspect slugs because of the knibble pattern, but for all I know it might have been birds. 

The Phacelia was still relatively small (shown below), and the Gilia was really still very small. I won't sow the Madia until July or August, it's a fall bloomer. 

Then I got busy with other things. I wasn't too worried about the seedlings, it was raining nicely and still early in the year... or was it? Last weekend, I finally had a closer look at my pots, and while I had hoped nature would just sort things out, I found my neglect had not been prudent. 
The chinese houses had all grown to be a tangle of crooked stems. They furthermore had a tendency to grow downwards instead of upwards. 

So, I took them all out of their pots and distributed them in the shadier areas of the garden. For each pot, I separated the roots and tangled tops into 3 or 4 batches, put them in the ground a little distance apart, and then sprinkled some sluggo around each group of plants. No we'll have to see whether the plants can find out which way is up, and bring forth some blossoms (preferably on April 18).

Here's what I'm after (photo from 

The clarkia looked a bit better, well, at least it was straight, but I had not noticed that, because the plants were so crowded, they had become deficient in nutrients and not as green as I would have liked. When I took them out of their pots, they were quite root bound. Here are a few of the newly-planted seedlings next to the first daffodils. 

The plan is that they will look like this (photo from CNPS Santa Clara Valley): 


Finally, the Phacelia had probably the most twisted stems of them all, and all that even though there were only very few plants in each pot (look especially at the plant on the left to see what I mean. 

I'm hoping to plant the Phacelia in the front, so I decided to put them in some 1-gallon pots for now, using the tomato plant treatment and burying the twisted stems in the hope that I'll get stronger and straighter stems. I ended up with 10 new plants.


And I'm hoping for this (Photo St. Mary's College, downloaded from CalPhotos): 

So, what have I learned? Watching the plants is critical. Transplanting into a 1-gallon pot is often a good idea. Seedlings are tasty to many critters, and must be protected diligently.

But altogether, it's pretty amazing how interesting a time I'm having for just a few dollars worth of seeds. In a way, the suspense is hard to bear. Will the slugs get the last of the chinese houses? Will the Clarkia, nutrient starved, stay small and never bloom? Will the Phacelia remain crooked? Stay tuned, with luck, there will be more to tell later this month.


Your seedlings are doing quite well over all. I can't attest much to the Phacelia as I'm also experimenting with it this year, and ours isn't that large yet. I'm sure the kinks will get ironed out in the end. We're trying the Gilia too. Maybe now the weather seems to be improving all of our plants will start growing a little faster. Alright...the sun is shining...I'm heading outside!
NellJean said…
I love this post! Almost as good as being there. None of the plants are things I've grown, but I can relate to the growth.
Anonymous said…
What a good haul, if crowded you have reaped from the sowing. They all look great and thanks for the tip about planting them in groups rather than trying to single out eat plant. Sometimes that is possible, sometimes we have sown too thickly, especially when the seeds are like dust. Your Phacelia are going to be fantastic. We are trying used coffe grounds to deter slugs, read it somewhere. Don't know how it will work, but it smells good. :-)
Christine said…
I had no luck with the Gilia, but sounds like you're getting along famously! Can't wait to see the "after" photos...
Gail said…
I love that we put some seeds in a pot of dirt add water, a bit of sunshine and warmth and we have plants to make our gardens even more beautiful...It's magic~gail
lost said…
I haven't grown any of the species you've started, but I can empathize with the sense of hope that sometimes turns to disappointment when three months' tending turns into a yummy meal for a garden critter. Still it looks like you'll have more than enough flowers to much up for the few losses.
Town Mouse said…
Thanks for the comments everyone. My big question is whether any of the plants will actually bloom. Enough sun? Enough water? Timing just right?

Fortunately, it wasn't that much work. I remember having some seedlings in the oven with the light on, that kind of fussy stuff. No more. Sprinkling a few seeds isn't a problem, transplanting I like. But I need my oven for myself.
Karyl said…
I love the Phacelia! It's one that I am not familiar with. It's nice to see that someone else frets over seedlings as much as I do.
It's so amazing that one can live somewhere where one can sow seeds in December, in non-winter sowing containers!
I'm actually on the look-out for Phacelia, as I understand it's a great food source for native bees. And it produces purple pollen. How cool is that?

I wonder if Annie's Annuals sells it as a plant?

Chinese Houses are truly delicious to slugs and snails. I wonder if mine will bloom, or just get eaten this year?