Friday, April 29, 2005

Planting Out Seedlings – Too Early?

I finished planting out the last of my seedlings today, apart from the Scarlet O’Hara morning glory I started a week ago. (I started most of them under fluorescents in my basement at the end of February). It’s a bit early by the calendar, but the 10-day forecast shows no frosts. The forecast also shows a lot of cloudiness and rain (as we have been getting for the past week and a half), and so conditions are quite favorable for transplants to recover without a lot of coddling -- to be honest, without any hardening off process.

Fingers were crossed, for I would have preferred to make the move later and more gradually but for an infestation of tiny flies in my basement. This infestation seemed hardly dented by my spraying pyrethrin, something I felt less than comfortable doing given the product’s warning that it might damage young seedlings. (Are those spots on the Papaver due to insects, insufficient light or fertilizer, or the pyrethrin? Now I have made the point moot.)

It’s been a strange spring, although I know, as the immortal Henry Mitchell has reminded us, that the perfectly average spring would be the truly strange one. In April we went from snow-covered, frozen, saturated earth to too-dry-to-allow-burning conditions in just 10 to 14 days of unusually dry, sunny and warm weather.

These conditions compressed bloom times on our early bulbs. In fact, my Crocus and Chionodoxa started bloomed before my snowdrops (Galanthus). And while snowdrops have a delicate beauty to them once you get down on your knees, no one bothers to do so when there are relatively large, colorful flowers in the same view.

After the area’s out-of-control brush fires peaked on Boston Marathon / Patriot’s Day (April 18th this year, for those of you not blessed with this Massachusetts holiday, which often grants us a 1-day reprieve on our federal taxes), Nature followed with 10 days alternating between, on the one hand, overcast days, and on the other hand, overcast rainy days. So I was able to have my 4 brush fires, the product of my messy, overgrown wooded strip, and I have been able to plant my 3 to 4 inch seedlings with some prospect of success.

What did I plant?

Rudbeckia ‘Irish Eyes’ (although I’ve had second thoughts on these “green-eyed susans”)

Rudbeckia Morveno (an orangish, generally annual form)

‘Lavender Lady’

Celosia ‘Red Velvet’ (annual)

Yarrow (Achillea) ‘Summer Pastels’

Poppy (red and white annuals)

Most went into the 42’ bed I’ve shown below, or into the slope behind this bed. This slope still has many living stumps of brambles and poison ivy, so I will now have to use a surgeon’s delicacy in killing them with loppers and chemicals, while coddling my transplants from any turn to sunny weather.

3 comments:

Paul Lamble said...

I love your blog and will now visit it daily.

Here in Kansas City I have always held to the policy that I won't put in any bedding plants until May. Many of my neighbors had put in their impatiens two weeks ago when we had 70 degree days, but the last week has given us cold nights, and last night there was even a frost.

On my morning walk I found many impatiens shriveled and battered (though I think they will survive), but the plants in beds under trees looked much better. Well, tomorrow is May, and the wife has plans for me, so I guess I'll cast my fortune and take my chances.

DWPittelli said...

After planting, I talked to my neighbor who said that the last frost here is usually in the full moon of May. I said I thought it was absurd that the moon could make it colder, but he stuck to his guns, saying that his own records generally confirm the wisdom passed down to him by his grandmother. We'll see...

DWPittelli said...

Note that everything worked out great except that all of the Celosia ‘Red Velvet’ (annual) died rather quickly. It didn't have a chance, given my neglect (no hardening-off period, no protection at night), but everything else survived under the same regimen.