After watching a couple of years of Monty Don on “Gardeners’ World,” one of the differences I noticed was he doesn’t use peat moss in the U.K. He mainly uses a lot of compost, perlite and grit. I’ve also never seen him use fertilizer other than compost which he makes himself.
You would be hard pressed to find this mixture in any nursery or big box store.
What I have found is a mix which seems similar to what Monty Don uses.
SLC Grower’s Mix has a combination of pine bark fines, compost and PBH rice hulls, although they wouldn’t tell me the exact percentages.
When I talked to SLC they did indicate that they would recommend using Osmocote if I was planning to grow from small size to large size in a pot. He recommended using a medium dosage. They do include a small starter nutrition in the mix and a micro-nutrient charge.
The product will be a bit drier since it drains so well. You may have to water more often.
I’m going to be doing some tests with this product versus my standard BX ProMix. The SLC mix is only $6 per 2 cu. ft. bag.
You would obviously be better off buying the mix in bulk, if you have a place to dump it.
The one odd thing about this mix is that it is in bags which say Cotton Blossom Compost.
Here are the results of my seed tests – they will be updated daily.
Seeds From My Garden
- Agastache regular – 6 days
- Agastache Pink Rapp – 5 days
- Blazing Star spicata
- Bronze Fennel – 4 days
- Coreopsis lance leaf – 8 days
- Coreopsis Plains – 4 days – 100%
- Dianthus barbatus – 6 days
- Echinacea – CS
- Echinacea – no CS
- Gaillardia small – 5 days
- Globe Amaranth pink – 3 days – 100%
- Gomphrena Fireworks –
- Helenium amarum – 4 days – 100%
- Maltese Cross – 7 days
- Marigold –
- Partridge Pea –
- Rue –
- Salvia pink – 4 days
- Salvia purple – 6 days
- Tropical milkweed – 6 days
- Verbena hastata –
- Verbena bonareinsis
- Zinnia angustifolia – 3 days
- Zinnia profusion pink –
Seeds I bought for 2018
- Ajuga reptans –
- Alyssum Royal Carpet – 3 days
- Creeping Thyme Magic Carpet – 6 days
- Creeping Thyme Mother of Thyme – 4 days
- Pussytoes Red – 4 days
- Rock Cress Cascading
- Sedum acre – 4 days
- Sedum Dragons Blood – 3 days
- Sedum oreganum – 3 days
- Snow in Summer – 6 days
- Veronica repens – 6 days
If you have leftover seeds from last year or seeds that you collected in the fall, now is a good time to test the seeds for viability.
I prefer to test the seeds through my standard seed starting process.
- I use the 36 per tray plastic cells in a 1020 tray.
- I put this tray in a heavy-duty plastic tray.
- I use my preferred potting mix as a base – BX Pro-Mix with some Osmocote.
- Make sure the mix is well watered before you add the seeds.
- I put 3 or 4 seeds on top of the mix.
- I top the seeds with a light layer of vermiculite.
- I spray the vermiculite with water.
- I label each cell with the date, seed name and number of seeds. I use vinyl blinds that I have taken down. These are easy to cut and label with a pencil.
- I also put in about 1/8 inch of water in the bottom of the tray in case the mix needs to absorb some water.
- I cover the tray with a plastic clear top.
- I lower my shop lights to within 1/2 inch of the plastic top.
- I keep the lights on 24/7 to keep it all warm.
Note – Shaw Nature Reserve uses 3 months Cold Stratification for most natives.
||30 days – Surface
|Asclepias incarnata – Swamp Milkweed
|Asclepias tuberosa – Butterfly Weed
|Blazing Star – Liatris
||0 – 30 days ????
|French Hollyhock – Malva sylvestris
||Not needed – press into soil
|Gomphrena – globe amaranth
|Helenium amarum – Sneezeweed
||Not needed – surface sow tiny seeds
||60 days – Surface Sow
||Not needed – do not cover????
|Salvia – purple perennial
||Not needed???? – needs light to germinate?????
|Verbena hastata – Vervain
||30 days – tiny seeds
If you haven’t already, it’s now time to get those native seeds into the soil.
As you can see in the picture, I clean out the area, put in the seeds and then cover them with potting soil. I use a plastic lawn edging to keep the seeds in place and also make it easier to know in the spring where the new plants are.
I also mark the seeds with stakes to know for sure what is coming up in the spring.
This technique is an easy way to grow your own plants for your own garden or to share with others.
Option #2 – 1020 Daisy Trays
Here is another option I am trying this year.
I am using what is called a 1020 Daisy Tray. Sometimes you can get them for free when you buy a flat of plants, but I bought some from Greenhouse Megastore.
Here’s what they look like below when they are finished.
Theoretically, I could either just let the seeds germinate in the trays over the winter, or I could try bringing in the whole tray inside during March to let them get a head start germinating inside.
While most annual seeds are planted in the spring, many native seeds need to be planted outside in the late fall. They need what is called cold-stratification to break the seeds out of their dormancy. While this can be done artificially, it’s easiest for the home gardener to just do it in an outside garden.
Here’s a technique that I use with good results. I would normally suggest planting the seeds around Thanksgiving. If it is still warm, wait until things cool down.
- Scrape off the top half inch of soil and mulch. You want to get down to the soil level. Set that material off to the side – we won’t use it. If you have weeds in the area, dig them out and put them in your compost.
- You then want to define your seed area so it will be easy to identify in the spring. You can use anything you want – hula hoop, wood, bricks, etc.
- I used a product called Terrace Board which is usually used as a lawn/garden edging. I cut it into twenty foot lengths and then drilled a hole into both ends and used a bolt to connect the overlapping ends. You will probably also need to buy plastic pegs to keep the board in place.
- Another option if you have lots of weeds and/or grass is to lay a couple layers of newspaper to smother the old growth and fill the area with good potting soil.
- I usually also add a half inch layer of compost or potting soil over the soil. We have clay soil in my location and it is not the ideal germinating medium.
- Put in your seeds, cover with another 1/4 inch of potting soil/compost and then water.
- Label the area so you know what seeds you planted.
- The plants you see are Asclepias incarnata – Swamp Milkweed.
- The advantage of this method is that you know that the plants coming up are the ones which are on the label.
I have some milkweed seeds that I’d be glad to share. The seeds are Tropical Milkweed, Asclepias curassavica. Plant the seed so it is slightly covered and keep warm and moist to start. If you start these inside, you can get a a head start on spring. Plant when all danger of frost is gone – usually around May 1st in St. Louis Missouri.
Another option is to plant these in the soil and let them come up naturally.
Send a SASE – Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope to:
Free Milkweed Seeds
9016 Robyn Rd
St. Louis, MO 63126
The best way to start these seeds is with bottom heat.
80 degrees and seeds slightly covered seems to be the best. I did put the plastic top on this to keep in the heat and moisture.
Here’s the procedure I use.