Saturday, April 12, 2008

Shepherd's Scabiosa...

So one of the few perennials I am growing from seeds this year is Shepherd's Scabiosa. I bought the seeds from Wal-mart or Canadian Tire or somewhere like that one day on a whim because I thought they looked pretty. So far they have been a bit of a pain, because just after they germinated a whitish-yellow powdery mould covered the surface of the soil in the entire tray of plants. That seems to have dissipated since I transplanted them, and they finally seem to be taking off. I planted them 5 weeks ago - and this is what they look like now.

In case anyone is interested - here is my process for germinating/growing shepherd's scabiosa:
1 - I made newspaper pots and filled them with seed starter mix (not potting soil) (also, I think the newspaper pots may be where my mould problem came from.
2 - The seeds were TINY so I just sprinkled them across the surface of the soil and then sprinkled them with a little bit of starter mix.
3 - I put the pots in a tray and filled the tray up with water so they would be watered from the bottom - so I didn't disturb the seeds.
4 - The seeds germinated 1 week later.
5 - About a week later, they looked like this. I was worried that they were going to contaminate my other plants, so I separated them to a different room. But none of the new seedlings died like I was expecting them too. The tray and pots just got really really gross.
6 - I did some reading on mould and damping off. To finally get rid of it - I sprayed them really heavily with no-damp, sprinkled the surface with cinnamon (which I think actually worked), and then I transplanted them into clean pots with clean dirt. Some of them I "pricked out" separately and planted them. After I was tired of this I just transplanted a clump of healthy looking ones into a new pot. This seems to have helped get rid of the mould - as I haven't seen any for several weeks now.
7 - I've been fertilizing the seedlings once a week with a seed-starting fertilizer. I think I need to change pretty quick to a flower fertilizer.
8 - Since transplanting, they seem to have taken off and are growing quite rapidly. They still are quite tiny, and I am not sure how big they will be before I have to plant them outside - but the package says they grow up to 40 cm high, and 16 cm wide - which is pretty big - they still seem very tiny and fragile to me. I am also going to have to give a bunch away, because I have way too many!


Amy said...

That mould can be such a pain after all the hard work. Glad yours seems to have disappeared for good! I've got healthy green moss growing in some of my pots. I'm not sure why, but it doesn't seem to affect the plants in any way.

Gardenista said...

How fantastic to see another northern Canadian gardener! My dream is to see a magazine actually dedicated to the zone 1-3 gardeners!

Yes, sometimes I plant way too many seeds in my germinating pots, but transplanting clumps of seedlings (rather than individual seedlings) is okay too. It's usually easy to prick them out into individual pots later.

Blue Fox said...

The white mould you describe is harmless to plants, it is one that is called a sapphrophyte, that lives on organic matter in your soil - so your plants are safe. The cinnamon sounds like a great idea though, I'll have to try that. I also sprinkle turkey grit over seeds to a) hold them down, and b) prevent moss, lungwort and algae growth. I would make sure to keep your babies indoors until your weather is really settled, as they won't be hardened off enough to be outside. Make a cold frame to protect them, and then plant them in their final destination in the fall.