winter sowing, now what?

aisgecko(7b Raleigh)February 21, 2008

I tried winter sowing last year but messed up- don't ask. This year (humbled) I tried just 2 kinds of store bought seeds and 2 collected from the garden. I meant to do a little more but never got to it. So now the 2 store bought seeds are sprouted. They are poppies and foxglove. Of the collected ones my lavendar haven't sprouted and the other (Knautia macedonica?) is sparce enough I'm not worried. but the poppies and foxglove are so densely packed! I think I know I should pluck out some of the seedlings soon so they aren't overcrowded. But it's painful to sacrifice my little babies. Is there any way to split them or are they so tender I'll lose them all. And how long should I wait to do it? What do you all do with overcrowded seedlings? I suppose I could try and pot up the ones I pluck, but I doubt they'd have much success. I have 2 pots of each so I could try and separate one and thin the other so I don't lose them all. Thoughts and experience? -Ais.

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Be brutal. Just go ahead and thin out a lot of the seedlings.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 10:50AM
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Tammy Kennedy

a tip for the next time is to mix the tiny seeds with sand and that way they are much thinner placed. be especially careful with the poppies as they don't like being handled. the foxies will be ok. honestly, when they are super crowded, the easiest way is to snip with manicure scissors to thin out some- that's a whole bunch less disrupting to the remaining babies. cruel, but sometimes you have to be cruel to end up with some healthy ones. i hate thinning and so i try real hard to sow almost too thinly.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 11:09AM
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carla17(Z7 NC)

What kind of poppies do you have? Someone sent me seeds and I have no idea how they look or perform.
Sorry to interrupt!


    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 12:32PM
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Tammy raised a good point -- poppies resent transplanting.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 12:40PM
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Today's lesson is called 'Pricking Out' - I just love it when something tame like gardening uses naughty terms.

The big nursery growers sow seed densely and then bust them into their tiny individual selves after they sprout and transplant into 3 inch pots or trays. Some hate it (the plants I mean) some don't. Most often even the stuff that hate it will tolerate it at this early stage of development rather than later when they are larger.

My complaint is that the timing is crucial, you have to prick them out just after they sprout. If the main root gets too long they really hate being ripped out of the soil. I solve this problem by sowing pinchfuls of seed in 4 inch deep pots. I prune out most of the seedlings when they first emerge and then prune down to just one after they have their first set of true leaves. I find that using deeper soil in trays or pots gives me some slack time - I call it lazyassed gardening (gotta write a book on that!).

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 12:56PM
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rootdiggernc(Z-7A NC)

Ais, if you decide to transplant some of them to 3 or 4 inch pots be sure to handle them by the leaves, not the stems. I break the soil into hunks and then gently tease the roots apart. Again, grasp the leaves and there's less chance of them breaking. I've done tomatoes, peppers, herbs, annuals, perennials and other stuff this way and if putting them into nice fluffy potting soil I just poke a hole in the soil and gently place the seedling into it and then gently close the soil around it. Water with a very gentle mist. I've transplanted seedlings with just their seed leaves and had prety good success with it.

You can also try the "hunk of seedling" method described on the 'winter sowing' forum. Usually when I get tired of transplanting the individual seedlings I add some more soil around the ones left and let them continue growing for a time (at least 4 true leaves)and then break into hunks and plant out where I want them. The strong will survive and as they grow you can use scissors to snip out the weaker ones.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 3:18PM
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aisgecko(7b Raleigh)

Thanks for all the advice! I do know that poppies hate being transplanted, but I had already done the containers. I don't remember what kind they are. Something common I guess. I think I'll thin one pot of each by sacrificing some then see how easily I can separate the other pot. Next time I'll sow thinner. Thanks! -Ais.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 3:52PM
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ashef(coastal NC z8)

I know poppies have a reputation for hating to be transplanted, but I've had near total success transplanting baby Shirley poppy seedlings by using a salad fork, not my fingers, to pry them gently out of the soil. I move them -- still on the fork prongs -- quickly to their new soil. Often I get 4 or 5 seedings on the fork and I separate them all out with my fingers then plant, and still have a very high transplant success rate. Allie

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 4:22PM
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I plant poppies, snaps, other things that get densely crowded in their containers hunk-o-seedlings style - there is a FAQ in the Wintersowing forum about it. Essentially, I split the container into small chunks - usually dime size or so - and plant the little chunks in spots. The theory is that as they grow, Mother Nature selects the strongest one and the rest die - which sometimes happens. To my delight, though, I've found that another possibility (and I haven't done enough scientific observation to know if there's a set of parameters that encourages this) is that most of the seedlings will grow - giving that rich, full look to that particular area that I so love (I don't like space in my garden!).

I have never had any trouble transplanting poppies this way.

BTW, your lavender will typically sprout a bit later. Don't give up on it!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 6:48PM
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