After all the seed catalogue browsing on dark winter evenings, the careful choosing, list refining & ordering, the week has finally arrived when I begin sowing our cut flowers in earnest.
My fingers have been itching for weeks to start, of course - it's so tempting as all those packets of potential arrive by post!
In January, I sowed only more Sweet Peas (so my early Brides can enjoy them in bouquets), plus Antirrhinum & Cleome (these take ages to germinate).
But experience has taught me to begin sowing cut flower seed before Valentines's Day (February 14th) is reckless. It's an arbitrary, easy to remember date, nothing magical happens on that date. Just that the days are getting a little longer, light levels & the temperature is rising. I still sow these early seeds under cover, often using the gentle heat of a propogator.
My main seed sowing effort is in March & April. It'll be mid-March before I risk sowing seed in the ground. To do so earlier would waste the time & money - it'll simply rot. Still far too wet & cold here in South West Scotland.
It's not that seed sown earlier under cover wouldn't germinate - treated well they should. But apart from the toughies (like Sweet Peas) the tiny plants need cossetting for so long before they can safely be planted outside.
And for most of us, there simply isn't enough space to protect growing young plants well. Windowsills, greenhouse, polytunnel & cold frame space is at a premium in these early months of the year. In this house, even the bathroom shelves & airing cupboard are used for little trays of germinating seeds...
But it's easier to provide warmth & protection from the wind than the good light essential to grow strong plants. Without this, seedlings stretch towards the light, growing on weak stems. It may seem frustrating to wait when we really want to get started. However, seed sown later frequently overtakes brethren from the same packet, sown earlier. The growing conditions are so much better, they romp away strongly.
So begin with a few this week & build up into the coming months. I'll post some suggestions for what to sow & how in the coming weeks. But for now, preparing the space for the seed sowing frenzy is a good task for a cold, blowy day like this one. Wash up your trays, pots & propogator lids, wash down the greenhouse windows to let the light in.
And for Valentine's Day tomorrow? Fingers crossed my beloved knows the way to my heart would be a gift of some extra greenhouse lights than a mass of Columbian grown red roses!
Rosie Gray of Galloway Flowers. Artisan Florist & Cut Flower Farmer near Castle Douglas, in South West Scotland. Using 100% Flowers & Foliage grown in British Isles, all year round.