Thursday, April 10, 2014
Starting seeds = Spring
Planting seeds is a sure sign of Spring. Luckily here in Horticultural Science, there is no lack of seed starting happening. My Master Gardener friends, who work on campus, and I started seeds for the 2014 annual seed trials in the greenhouses. The trials are in their 32nd year (I think) and this year, over 100 people are participating by planting and growing out the seeds in their home garden, school gardens, community gardens, and demonstration gardens. On campus, our seed trials can be found in the Department's Display and Trial Garden located at the corner of Gortner and Folwell Avenues on the U of MN St. Paul campus. Trials this year include six herbs for tea, and six varieties of container tomatoes, bull horn peppers, spinach, yellow squash, carrots, shasta daisy, and alyssum. Seed trial results are published each year in the spring issue of Northern Gardener magazine.
I also started some seeds for the Gopher Adventures garden. GA is a day camp for kids here at the U. Kids ages 5-13 can choose to do all sorts of activities at the U from computers to rock climbing to art and dance to - yep - gardening. Master Gardeners and I plant a children's garden on the west end of the display garden. Edible plants, flowers, trees, monarch way station, plants for pollinators - even a miniature garden called "Little Goldy's Garden" complete with a very small golden gopher (it's a magnet on a stick). Last year we had straw bale gardens and pallet gardens. The seeds I started for GA are in my office on a heat mat under a grow light. I used a tray with fifty Earth plugs from Seeds of Change. I used my own seeds from home and planted a couple kinds of peppers, nasturtiums, Salvia, Echinacea, basil, teddy bear sunflowers, and even a mystery seed that will hopefully emerge (and I can identify). This year, we'll be planting Smart Snacks - an Arboretum educational program about plants that are good snacks for people and pollinators.
Seeds are amazing. Everything needed to grow a plant (water and soil not withstanding) are encapsulated in a seed. Everyone should plant a few seeds and feel a little amazed at the result!