Welcome to the first Sowing & Growing Update of the new cut flower season. As the weather gets colder and the days get shorter I am really enjoying sowing seeds now that I can look forward to cutting in the spring. In August and September we've sown lots of hardy annuals which I hope will be robust enough to plant out into our cut flower patches before the first frost of the year, creating space in our greenhouses, cold frames, polytunnels etc. for the half-hardy plants that'll need shelter from the winter weather.
For those who are new to The Cut Flower Patch, each month I put together this blog to give our growers an idea of my sowing and growing progress (or lack of progress, as sometimes is the case). The information is grouped by the month the seeds were included in our seed boxes. For the purposes of comparison, for each plant I specify the number of weeks since sowing as I am aware that not everyone is sowing their seeds at exactly the same time. The photographs were taken on the day of writing this blog.
The August Seed Box - Corncockle, Cornflower, Iceland Poppy, Nigella, Larkspur
Corncockle - Week 8
My cut flower season seems to have got off to a good start, firstly my corncockle germinated within a week of sowing, I then took off the plastic cover and moved the modular seed tray into the greenhouse so the seedlings could benefit from light and air circulation. If you don't have a greenhouse there are lots of other low-cost alternatives https://www.thecutflowerpatch.co.uk/post/do-i-need-a-greenhouse
After around 3 weeks my corncockle had it's first set of true leaves and so I pricked them out into 9cm pots. If you haven't pricked out seedlings before this blog will help
Corncockle is a hardy annual and therefore can cope with cold temperatures and frost, and because my plants have now reached a good size (around the size of my fist) I am going to plant them out into my cut flower patch around 6 weeks before the predicted first frost in our area. I find this interactive map really useful for working out first and last frost dates.
So looking at our predicted first frost date I will be planting out my corncockle around 10th October and in order to get them ready outdoor conditions I'll harden them off for a week or so beforehand. Which means I'll be taking them out of the greenhouse during the day and then putting them back in at night.
Corncockle doesn't need to be pinched out.
Cornflower - Week 8
The cornflower is pretty much a repeat of the corncockle (other than the slugs helped themselves to a fair few and, because cornflower is one of my very favourite cut flowers, I sowed a second tray to be on the safe side).
The seeds germinated within days, had their first set of true leaves at around 3 weeks and are now robust enough to plant out into my cut flower patch about 6 weeks before the first frost.
The one notable difference to corncockle is that cornflowers will benefit from being pinched out once they are around 15cm tall.
Iceland Poppy - Week 8
My Iceland poppies were a little slower to germinate than the corncockle and cornflower but after around 4 weeks, even they were still very small, I pricked them out and as you can see they are doing fine. Even though Iceland poppies are hardy annuals the advice is to overwinter them in a greenhouse, cold frame or polytunnel.
Iceland poppies do not need to be pinched out.
Nigella - Week 8
The nigella seeds took a couple of weeks to germinate and another 2 weeks to get their first set of true leaves. Again, the seedlings were fairly small when I pricked them out but as you can they're doing fine.
I am going to plant out 5 or so nigella plants into my cut flower patch along with the cornflower and corncockle which will be around 6 weeks before our first frost.
I'll overwinter the rest of the plants in the greenhouse so they are ready to plant out in the spring.
It's not necessary to pinch out nigella.
Larkspur - Week 4.5
Wow, that was quick. The larkspur was sowed a few weeks after the other August seeds because it was in the freezer going though the stratification process. The seeds germinated at around 10 days at which point I took off the cover and put them in the greenhouse. Yesterday I pricked them out.
Slugs are very partial to larkspur so I am going to over winter them in the greenhouse to make sure they are a decent size before planting them out in the spring.
Larkspur will benefit from being pinched out when they are around 10cm tall.
The September Seed Box - Scabiosa, Snapdragon, Ammi Majus, Calendula, Orlaya
Scabiosa - Week 4
The scabiosa seeds germinated within a week, I then took off the plastic cover and moved the modular seed tray into the greenhouse so the seedlings could benefit from light and air circulation. If you don't have a greenhouse there are lots of other low-cost alternatives https://www.thecutflowerpatch.co.uk/post/do-i-need-a-greenhouse
As soon as the first set of true leaves (true leaves are essentially the second set of leaves to grow, the first set being the seed leaves) appear I'll prick them out into 9cm pots.
Scabiosa is a hardy annual so in a few weeks I'll see if they are large enough to plant out into my cut flower patch...watch this space.
Scabiosa doesn't need to be pinched out.
Snapdragon - Week 4
Within the last few days the true leaves have appeared on some or my snapdragon, although quite small, I've pricked out those ones leaving space in the original tray for the remainder to grow.
Snapdragons are half-hardy annuals so can't tolerate cold temperatures and will need to stay in the greenhouse, cold frame or polytunnel until the spring.
Snapdragon will benefit from being pinched out when it has four sets of true leaves.
Ammi Majus - Week 4
The ammi majus took me a bit by surprise, in theory they can be a little slow to germinate so I sowed them in a modular tray with another seed that takes 21 days or so to germinate, orlaya. However I came home after a few days away and the ammi had not only germinated it was starting to get a bit leggy. So I pricked them out even though they hadn't yet got their first set of true leaves.
It's not necessary to pinch out ammi majus.
Calendula - Week 4
Another one that took me a little by surprise, it germinated within days and started to look leggy very quickly so, as with the ammi, I pricked it out early. Depending on how much the seedlings grow in the next few weeks I may plant some out before our first frost...will keep you posted. .
Orlaya - Week 4
Still no sign of germination, it is a slow one, but am hoping to see a few shoots in the forthcoming days.
That's all for now and until the next time...happy sowing & growing.