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PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2009 6:36 pm 
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Location: Frisco, Tejas
Hi all...

So this year that whole spend $1800 on bedding plants for the Fall idea is out due to my wife's layoff, one successful court battle and one successful but expensive cancer fight.

So I had a choice: Give up having the floral display that brings a smile to my face and those of everyone who passes by in the winter or... find a cheaper solution.

So out in the garage right now we're looking at about 1500 pansy and viola seedlings. I figured this is a 'do more with less' kinda year. Now, I need to start transplanting the oldest seedlings into 4" pots for finish while I wait for the end of my vincas, pentas, begonias and geraniums. My plan is to be able to replace one massive display with another once the frost comes.

Anyone in the North Tejas (Frisco) area planted young viola and pansy plants to overwinter before? I did about 30 flats last year and they were kinda sorta OK until Spring and then they went Little Shop and I had a display that was WAY better than the Spring-planted pansies.

would you hold some in reserve in 4" pots that you could return to the garage if we get a REALLY cold snap?

Any thoughts appreciated, I've never gone the seed route before and thus far I am pretty excited. Got some seedling stretch but each of the three groups of plantings I did is a little more precise with a little better result and soon I hope to be up to my ears in flowers through the winter.

BTW: This is FUN - converting three big shelves into greenhouse space in the garage is definitely my new strategy... expensive seeds (like Wave petunias at 18c) are still dirt cheap compared to buying several flats of bedding plants and the 'more work' argument is kinda dumb to bring up here since if you are a member here, you probably go well out of your way to create more work in the garden. Would love to find other folks who grow flowers from seed to compare notes with.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 11:56 am 
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Are you wanting to hold the 4' pots in reserve in case the ones planted die in the cold?

This sounds like a big project. My experience with potted plants is that the sooner I get them into the ground the happier they are. I would plant them all and simply cover them with floating row cover or a light-weight clear painters drop cloth if it gets really cold. But I'm not entirely sure if that's what you're asking about.

It sounds like a lovely garden. I've seen a lot of pansies being put in now. It isn't too early. I enjoy growing plants from seeds. I don't have huge flower sections of the yard, but I put some cosmos in for the first time this year. It was a packet of "mixed" seeds and I assumed that meant mixed colors (yellow and gold) but it seems also to have meant typical (18") and giant (4'). In the photo there are the small ones to the left, beside the big ones that also came up in the garden. All seeds planted late spring and mid-summer.


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File comment: My mixed cosmos seemed to be typical short and giant stature plants. This is two large shrubs that bloomed later than their smaller cousins.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 10:01 pm 
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Thanks - great picture!

Actually, I am doing the 4" pots for several reasons
1. I like to make things harder than they need to be :-)
2. My current display of Pentas, Geraniums, Begonias, Angelonia and the new 'blueberry' vincas is breathtaking - I don't want to rip them out and move them to the compost bin until we get a freeze. My hope is that when we're expecting a good freeze I will bite the bullet, compost the summer stuff, store the geraniums for Spring and plant the pansies and violets I have growing on the back patio that will be big enough that I go from a full garden to a full garden without the interim 'barren' look. Will try to get a picture tomorrow.
3. I will hold some in reserve - and I will give some to neighbors and since I am enjoying this wayyyyyy too much and growing silly quantities I may see if some of the nurseries nearby will take some of the harder to find stuff in exchange for a credit. Good violas are REALLY hard to find and that baffles me - they are spectacular.

So since I posted the original post I have transplanted about 25 flats worth before I ran out of pots. I had a remarkably productive dumpster dive at my local Calloway's tonight and found about 300 4" pots and 20 or so of those 18-hole 'sheet pot' flats of around the same size so I will be planting this weekend.

Also on tap this weekend - sowing snapdragon seeds along with more pansy and viola seeds :-)

I have a feeling that I will wind up with ridiculous numbers of winter/spring bedding plants seeing as how a shipment of plug trays arrived today so hopefully I will have enough to offer some for forum members to come get once I run out of room to plant. If you have never had violas they will make you lose interest in Pansies - smaller flowers but many more of them and the color combos are awesome.

BTW - I've been dealing with Harris Seeds, they have a huge selection and the service is tremendous... old school service where a sweet motherly sounding woman calls and asks if you got your shipment. They proactively called me to let me know that the 1000 Mammoth Mix Pansies I got were mislabeled and the free replacements were on the way... class.

The transplanted ones (kept them in the shade this week just in case) did better than I expected, did not lose a single seedling and they took off. I wasn't sure how I would do experimenting with seeds but I learned a few tricks and think I have it figured out now. LOL - If you can't find me, check the garage.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 10:22 pm 
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It sounds like you're having a lot of fun with this!

I have a lot of pots stashed in the garage. I just have to get them out and use them!

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2009 7:35 am 
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LOL - yeah - a little overboard but I think it is because I usually dread winter here in Texas. Don't really get snow, just a few sleets and ice storms, cold, windy and everything is gray and dead without even the pretty snow to look at, yuck!

...but we stay warm enough for pansies, violas and a few others to grow and bloom through the winter and rye grass stays nice and green. My wife jokes with the neighbors that I overseeded this year just because I want to cut the grass twice/week while everyone else stays inside where it is warm.

I'm excited to see if I can have my winter garden rival my summer gardens for color this year..


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 13, 2009 9:01 am 
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OK so here's a little more on the project:
Mission: Keep the Summer color going until the last minute, then yank it out, prep the beds and get the pansies and viola in to replace the summer stuff without a month long 'dead period'

First: What we are replacing:
Here's the Geranium bed alongside the alley, the plants are huge so I want to overwinter them in the garage. Not sure if you can tell how many or how large they are but there are over 100 plants and they are very big and strong at this point in the year. This wall is on the northeast corner of my property and gets morning sun only so they survive the Tejas heat from last frost til first hard freeze:
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Here you can see that the Pentas still look great, the Cora Vinca did not like being so wet last month and a few are breaking down. The Angelonia seems to have one more bloom and the Begonias are up to 24" or more... I will experiment with lifting them this winter and see if I can store the roots in peat over the winter for next year
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This is a must have if your spouse is not a gardener... she can drink a glass of wine and read a book or chat with a neighbor while I play in my dirt

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I have rings around the three trees in the yard, the Begonias are so big right now that they are covering the Angelonia near the trunk:
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OK, so here's the replacements: I setup a light stand in the garage, I can get about 5 seedling trays per shelf on 4 shelves so I use a mixture of 50, 72 and 144 hole trays for the seeds. Pansies and violas are not as hard as they are reputed to be. Seeds are new to me and I did learn a few tricks like watering FROM THE BOTTOM and keeping the lights going 16-18 hrs/day. I have 200 'cells' of snapdragons just starting to grow right now, each will have 3-4 plants in it - these are the new trays I am using... 50 hex cells, 4" deep so they will go right into the ground without transplanting hopefully.
Image

The Pansy/viola project is well underway. I planted another 650 violas last night and they are in the dark to germinate for a week. The ones I started in late September are already transplanted and are filling my back patio:
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So right now I am hoping to take a few days off next week to do the swap. I'm afraid we won't have blooming yet but we'll be close. Pansies and Viola start very slow. Once they get about 6 weeks old they start to really take off and are doubling in size each week now as more leaves come out...

Will update with pictures as I replace the Summer stuff. Oh.... there's a lot of dianthus under the vincas and they'll stay. The Alyssum, lobelia and some of my other favorites are already done for the year....


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 13, 2009 10:38 am 
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That's a major operation you have going, but I can see why you don't want to replace what is in the ground yet. And it looks like you're having a lot of fun!

Last year I had some of the red pentas planted next to some of the Victoria blue salvia in my front beds and they were so beautifully striking next to each other. And there is a red salvia that has reseeded itself in that bed this year, so I'll probably just mulch and let those come back in the spring. There's an area in that bed where I've had great luck with winter veggies like chard, and those need to be planted any time now.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 13, 2009 11:24 am 
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Yeah - when you add in my 'labor costs' this is not a cost saver but gardening is cheaper than a pshrink so who's to say?

Blues in the garden are wonderful next to reds. I have had a lot of good luck with Lobelia in the Spring and Fall but August incinerates it.

When we moved in three years ago those flower beds did not exist - just the usual builder bushes. We have a really good and inexpensive 'rock guy' if anyone needs some beds built.

Wife and I are looking at land once my daughter graduates, looking at a nice multi-acre lot in Costa Rica and another in Panama. Give me a winterless environment and there will be one amazing garden.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 11:27 am 
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Update....

well, I planted around 1000 pansies and violas a few weeks ago and have not lost a single transplant to the weather. I see a BIG difference between the stuff I grew from seed and the bedding plants I usually get.

I'm assuming that planting the seedlings in the climate they've been growing in - same photoperiod and weather - and not being trucked from more hospitable climates helps.

The flowering is slow, one variety of Viola has blooms so far, a few buds on the pansies.

For those who might be tempted to try it next year I've found a few things out:
- The 50 cell, hex, 4" deep seedling trays work well, the first batch I did were in the smaller 72 cell trays and transplanting 1000 seedlings is a long job. These 4" deep plugs go right into the ground.
- Get trays to put them in so you can water from the bottom. I found a good deal on the net for 25 of the hex trays and 25 of the liner trays... 25x50 is a lot of seedlings. If you get dry spots at the roots you get dried plants.
- Watering is a concern.... I've begun catching rain water because if you have 10-20 water/dry cycles with tap it builds up a lot of minerals.
- Walmart has a $10 shoplight that uses the high output bulbs (with the bulbs, $20 total) I am using a mixture of the 6500K daylight bulbs and a few of the 'redder' grow bulbs but the 6500K by themselves get you vigorous, dark green growth
- the fertilizer mixture I am using is half strength Hasta Gro Lawn (higher N), a few drops of Superthrive (the vitamin) and the other thrive (Beneficial fungi) every other watering. I'm getting some great roots with Thrive but probably out to do a flat with and one without for comparison sometime. My gut says that it works well.
- I pulled my begonias and my geraniums before the first hard freeze and am drying them out in the garage, we'll see what happens when I wet and replant them in March but they appear to have shut off the green growth and have gone dormant. If my geraniums survive replanting next year I will be a happy guy since they were so stunning this year.

In the garage now I have another 750 pansies and violas ready for transplant this weekend and 200 primrose that I am hoping to get to bloom come march/april. They are a little more challenging but the Danova and Arcit mixes are soooo stunning - will update with pictures.

Next up are some double flowering Dianthus and the tidal wave Petunias. I have 100 double flowering begonia seeds as well and will be getting those started.

If you haven't tried seeds you ought to. gives you a break from the tedium of winter and there is a real satisfaction when you see them bloom. The fact that it is a lot cheaper is nice too - but only if you WANT more garden time in the winter as it requires a bit of work that some may deem tedious - I like it - distraction from work and winter :-)


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2010 12:12 pm 
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Hello CHF3!
I hear ya man I hear ya.. I find a great satisfaction of growing from seed. I am still picking tomatoes from the plant I grew from seed this spring. Almost all my vincas died in the freeze. some are in the process of rebirth, and I see babies around the area.., Most of my marigolds kinda half-froze. I did notice that the things I took extra care to protect did much better than the ones that tried to wing it...
This freezing thing, it just doesn't happen much here in the coastal bend. It dropped icy rain then froze and most green leaves that had ice on them died. It looks like a very sad graveyard out there...
In the past I have grown some flowers just by seed planting directly in the soil or transplants. I am seriously thinking of doing some flowers your way. At the present I have some coleus seeds just starting to sprout in egg cartons. My first time... I can just imagine all that lovely foliage gracing my flower bed...
Would you be so kind as to tell me where you got that good deal online for the seed starter trays? Growing is what keeps me sane, its my relief when my work is too stressful, and being blessed by a nearly year round growing season I am going for it. Well I am going to try.
mamafin :)


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:15 pm 
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Location: Frisco, Tejas
Sure - check these:
http://plasticflowerpots.net/seedstarte ... trays.aspx
And get the trays without holes to match:
http://plasticflowerpots.net/nurserytra ... trays.aspx

You must be further South than I am? I'm in Frisco TX and sadly I was dead on with my prediction of a colder than average winter though it arrived late.
Was going to put out the last 750 pansies and violas this weekend but with the arctic mass headed this way for Thursday (low teens) I am going to wait til next weekend and will probably cover the beds up for a couple days with frost blankets. I don't think 10-12 will kill pansies and violas once acclimated but it will certainly knock them way back.

Sigh, how many days til last frost? I am already disgusted with supermarket tomatoes though my peppers froze well and the flavor is still fabulous! I stuffed some giant jalepenos with a mixture of cheese and chopped habenero for New Year's eve and while a few neighbors reported mild cardiac arrhythmia they are starting to forgive me :-) Talke about your cleanse diet, lol.

For seeds, I have been very impressed with Harris Seeds - they have phenomenal customer service and are more geared toward professionals, their stuff germinates and they are very helpful and friendly and they do customer service like they mean it.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2010 11:40 am 
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Good day to you CHF
Thank you for the info on the trays. I will definitely use them. I have received catalogs from Harris before but I havent ordered yet. I have purchased seeds in the nurserys and at Parks and at Gurneys. I cannot say that I had a memorable experience with them but I dont have a complaint. (cept they sometimes process your order even when they dont have it in stock or send it when they want to..)
I would say yes I am purty far South. Well not in the Valley, but on the coast (Corpus Christi). I live about 3 miles inland but thee soil is still clay-like. SO in my gardening areas I have to put in some organic stuff as often as I can. And I use containers a lot.
So the freeze we had here in the middle of December was not typical. I felt awful after I saw the damage and even tho I did try to protect some of my pots and gardens I lost many and was sad. :cry: I am taking precaution today to move what I can close to the house and in the garage (thats gonna be hard for a pack rat like me). And I am going to lowes today to get new supplies @ as discount!!! Who knows what I may find.
My dear Hubby thinks I just grow too much stuff. do you think thats possible??? (validate me please!!!)
I am going to follow you around here and learn from your tricks my new friend. Take care the arctic front is fast approaching you first than me.
mamafin


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2010 1:14 pm 
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Mama - my wife says I spend a ridiculous amount of time in the yard. I point out various past and present husbands of her friends who had a similar affinity for drinking, gambling or redheads. This usually results in "Need anything from Calloway's while I'm out?".

Gardening is cheaper than a pshrink and homegrown veggies taste great. I also put in the sitting area in the front garden where she can sit and read a book with a glass of wine while I play in the dirt - allowing us each to use our disparate gifts at the same time in close proximity.

Your task is easier, he's your husband, tell him that if you did not garden you'd be bored and you would then be forced to nag him.... We're fairly simple creatures with a strong phobia of annoyed and/or bored women.

I've purchased seeds elsewhere - those were hit and miss. Harris does thiers sealed in foil packets with a germination rate printed right on it. Since I use 50 cell trays and have a math degree it ain't rocket surgery to determine whether they are accurate - typically if they say 92% it is more like 96%, though the other two cells/tray do annoy me :-)

Happy gardening, I hope the freeze down there (or the one you have coming this friday) knocks back those F-16 sized mosquitos you get down there!


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 8:07 pm 
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Update: Well the pansies and Violas are blooming and the lawn is nice and green while the rest of the subdivision is dead. I will take some pics tomorrow but my plan to pretend Winter doesn't exist has gone well.

I potted up the geraniums last week and only lost a few. I was lazy and got busy and just threw them in a pile in the garage which led to some rotting. The ones away from the pile did best so next Fall I will string them up and hang them.

The Begonias I just threw in tubs, lots of shoots on them when I dug through and started potting them today.

So far, so good.

The tulips and hyacinths are up but not blooming yet, the dianthus is about to go crazy with buds and the roses are coming back so I should have serious fireworks in a couple weeks.

Pics coming.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 7:51 am 
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Keep the pictures coming! I need to see some color rght now. :P :P :P

Your flowers and dedication is inspirational.


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