Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Seed-planting Day at Turtle Haven

The little strip of lakeshore next to "Boone's Dock" here at the Duckworthy Estate is called Turtle Haven. There are some floating trunks of dead trees a few feet from the shore, offering a perfect tanning salon for the local turtles.  This morning as I was completing the task of planting my daylily seeds, I noticed that the turtles had decided my non-standing position was non-threatening, and so they mounted the logs as well as each other!

It was a perfect Spring morning in the garden.  The temperature was in the low sixties and there was no wind.

I fired up my small tiller and mixed some leaf mold into the never-before-planted clay soil, deep enough to start seeds, and raked the bed smooth.

Then I fetched my trowel, kneeling pad, and short length of plywood, put some extra wooden plant labels in my pocket, and carried everything down to the seedling bed.

The seeds were arranged alphabetically in a cardboard carton that I removed from the refrigerator.  They have been under refrigeration following spring rehydration for four weeks.

I'm trying a new planting method, new for me, that I saw in use at Daylily World (the garden of David Kirchhoff and Mort Morss in Lawrence, Kentucky) last July.

Seeds are placed very close together in a four-inch wide row, about an inch deep.  They'll germinate over the next couple of weeks and grow as tiny seedlings until late summer, when they will have two pair of leaves and enough of a root system to tolerate transplanting in August.

At that point I will move the seedlings to four-inch spacing in rows eight or nine inches apart in a hundred linear feet of seedling bed five feet wide.  The advantage of this method is that there will be no wasted space in the final bed.  Heretofore, I've planted seeds in four-inch spacing, only to witness big gaps where lots of seeds failed to germinate.

Last year I had 381 seedlings growing in a space designed for about 2,000.  That's a lot of wasted space!

The wooden labels are disposable in August.  When I move the young seedlings to their development bed, I'll insert metal EON labels to mark the position of each cross.

After the phenomenal rain delays of the past six weeks, getting these seeds into the ground was a milestone to match the accomplishment of moving and planting the 381 seedlings last Thursday and Friday.

Tomorrow we expect to form up the berms for trees in the front of the property, so next week at this time I hope to have the redbuds and dogwoods in their places.  Once the berms are formed and planted I can begin planting daylilies in the beds near the berms.


Anonymous said...

Be careful with the Popsicle sticks with markers. They fad quickly as I found out, leaving them impossible to read. Try cut up alum cans & emboss the names into it.
Good luck!
Pat Sturdevant
Madison, WI

Jim Elliott said...

Michael i would put some wire cloth over the seed beds to keep digging varment out. Also if you live that close to any water the turtles will come to your beds and lay their eggs, just thinking from our experience. Jim Elliott