Friday, March 14, 2014

Wild & Wonderful WV Sprouts Journal 1 - Shirley Poppy, Lobelia siphilitica and Cleome hasslerriana

We are starting to get the hang of blogging!  And also getting the hang of growing our seeds!  Lots of excitement within the committee as we share photos and learn to post and start online journals.  I went back and counted today - at least 58 emails back and forth getting this going!

We will be posting general blog entries - like An Adventure Starts, Getting Started, Sowing Our Seeds, Scintillating "S" Words, IC Sprouts UC Sprouts and so forth.  But we will now be adding each individual Contributor's online journal.  These will appear as posts, but will be linked to the section on the lower right side bar titled "Follow Posts by Individual Sprouts".  Blondie Sprout has started her journal and so has Symphony Sprout.  Here you will be able to follow one individual sprout all the way through her experience.  We will make comments and comparisons as we go through this process. is my journal.  Already I've learned I missed some good watering advice during the workshop.  Too busy taking photographs I guess.  But, my sprouts survived regardless and are growing.  Have decided this is like a Jr. High Science School project with all of us doing slight variations on the main theme.  Trying to make it fun - which is most definitely is - and trying to make it easy and user-friendly and demystify how to start your own seeds, get them growing and then harvesting! 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014
First seed sowing workshop with the Hort committee.  Instructions from Blondie Sprout and mamsprout.  Off to the garage to plant.  All the supplies are ready (See Sowing Our Seeds).

I chose Shirley Poppy (Papaver rhoeas) and Spiderflower (Cleome hasslerriana). 

Wasn't listening well - did not bottom water my seed trays again before I got home.  But the soil was nice and moist and well prepared by mamsprouts at the workshop so not a problem!  I put my two flats of seeds on my island with the zip loc bags tightly zipped and waited.  My island - shown also in Sowing Our Seeds - is in a white, bright kitchen.  Skylight off to one side providing indirect light, ovens providing additional warmth when used. 

Island location in my kitchen.  Nice light reflecting from white walls & cabinets. 
Some additional warmth from oven when in use.  Indirect light from skylight above. 
Right where I can see them every day, along with my left over amaryllis bulbs.

Rain forest tent!
 Great moisture provided from properly moistened soil during our seed
 sowing workshop.   Zip loc baggie nice and tight and awaiting the big day!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Wow!  Much faster than I expected - although these are poppies:  Papaver rhoeas and Papaver somniferum.  Less than a week - 5 days to be exact!  How exciting and are the phone calls and emails flying again.  I opened my tent slightly, checked the moisture - still plenty there and left.  For the next several days I would alternately open and close my tent as I wanted to expose them gradually to the open air.  Plus I didn't have time for the next few days to water, get the lights going, etc.

Friday, March 14, 2014
Aah - a day to work on my seeds, plus I want to plant some additional varieties.

First I pulled my seed trays out from the partially opened baggies.  Took an old cake pan and filled with warm water, enough to cover the holes in the bottom of the seed trays.  Remembering that one of the watering suggestions said go by the weight of your tray to judge if you have watered enough, I put my seed tray in the cake pan.  Meanwhile I put the other seed tray in my hand to get a feel for the weight on one that had not been watered.  I have not added any water to my trays since the 5th and they are doing fine - that is 9 days!  But a couple of the small squares within the seed tray are looking dry.  So, about 5 minutes in the cake pan and I lifted the first tray - could feel the difference in weight, plus the soil appears to be wetter.  So, out with the first seed tray and soaked the second for about the same time.

My 6 pack seed tray in an old cake pan with enough water
to cover the bottom holes.

Then moved my OTT light to the island, plugged it in.  I also found an old plastic tray in the basement.  Set my newly watered seed trays (which I drained well before putting in) on the island, positioned my OTT light and ready to go.

OTT light angled over my poppy sprouts.
Have put my first two seed trays in a plastic pan - but they are well drained, just
put them there for protection and getting bumped or tipped on my island.
Note bag of Cleome in the background, still zipped tightly
and waiting for germination.

Now to tackle planting some more new seeds.  But first off to help kitty sprout get her first post up.

It's been an up and down week since the 14th.  I think I watered too early.  My seeds flattened out and I thought I would lose them all.  The seed trays seemed fairly wet, so at mamsprouts suggestion I took them out and put them on a paper towel.  That helped pull out some of the excess water.  We talked about watering in another blog and the dangers of over watering.  I read an interesting blog yesterday that I wish I could find again and how the water takes all the oxygen away from the roots. 

I elevated the tray shown above on two cake pans, lowered the angle of my lights to about 5" and hoped for the best.  Within 2-3 days the seeds were looking better.  Some did die, but plenty left as I have not yet done any thinning. 

Saturday - March 22, 2014.
Not out of danger, but upright.  Close examination shows a set of tiny leaves trying to appear on a few of the plants.  Going to try to take the tweezers and get some of the dead ones out. 

Improving - over seeded in several trays, under seeded in others
But still lots alive.

Sunday - March 30, 2014
The poppies are struggling still, but there are some left upright and managing to survive.  As someone else said in their blog "survival of the fittest!" 

Thinned out, bottom watered again and added a little
seedless soil mix to the top to cover some of the exposed roots.

I've been doing a little more reading on the Cleome and not sure my seeds are going to sprout.  From what I have read if they haven't come up in a few weeks, they are likely not to.  Most sites also suggest that bottom warmth is needed.  Temperatures should be 65 at night and closer to 85 during the day.  And I never stratified this set.

As I left church this morning and was getting into our car to head home, I looked next to the sidewalk and there was cleome still left from last fall peeking through the fence.  Very well dried and with lots of seed heads just reaching out to me - an opportunity!  I pulled off several pods which were splitting apart, the seeds just dropping into my hand.  Carried the seeds home and decided to try the "living lettuce" container method again.  The seeds were in their new home within the hour.  Will try to keep them in a warmer spot and see what happens with these - I know they have had plenty of cold and should be ready to germinate as they have been outside in our very cold winter! They are not seeds that I brought home from Shirley Meniece, but if successful they will be seeds that can go to Shirley Meniece in the fall.

Newly planted Cleome seeds - second try!

Sunday, April 6, 2014. 
Updating all my posts.  Poppies are still pretty week.  No luck on the new Cleome seeds either. is hard to be patient when the seeds are in the kitchen and you walk by them at least 50 times a day!

Sunday, April 13, 2014
About to house clean my seed trays that had not shown any growth since the very beginning.  Opened the Lobelia siphilitica. ... blue cardinal flower tent and to my amazement tiny sprouts!  They are smaller than a pinhead but they are there.  So, never give up!  I'm going to keep them in their tent indefinitely after learning my lesson with the poppies.  But it's exciting and I share this so you won't get discouraged.  This project definitely takes patience.

I don't think you can see much from the photo below.  But you can see how tiny - that's a toothpick stuck into one of the cells for size comparison.  I've circled the two tiny spots to help.  There are probably at least a dozen or so tiny seedlings.  How these little guys survive during self seeding is pretty amazing.
Not much to see now but about 4 pale green seedlings
in this cell.  More in the others. 

April 22, 2014
Trying something new with the poppies.  Ordered some new Shirley poppy seeds after reading a blog on Shirley Poppies.  Ordered the same variety that we received from Shirley Meniece - 'Falling in Love".  After reading the blog Growing with Plants I decided to sow directly outdoors.  I'm close to past the time to do this but first had to prepare a new raised bed.  Have been meaning to do this for a while and so now very motivated.  Also will add some tomatoes; more about this soon as my sister started some heirloom tomato seeds received at Shirley Meniece that will go in this bed as well as some other vegetables.  Finally the bed is ready and the Shirley poppies have their new home.  I have two small areas where I am putting plant stakes over top of the seeded area and leaving completely undisturbed as the blog suggests.  Sowed, covered very lightly, turned on the sprinkler for a nice shower and will hope for the best.  Also trying a couple of new deer products around this bed as it is almost directly in line with the deer path past my house.  See the tube socks - a recent suggestion from a gardening friend was to soak the tube socks in smelly deer repellant and lay around the garden.  The smell will linger quite a while and eventually the socks will become dirty and blend right in.  The smell might keep me away, too!

Shirley Poppies are sown under the cage so they will grow up into it.
Will lower the cage some as it will take quite a while to reach that height.
Notice the tube socks in the background that are soaked with deer repellant.

May 1, 2014
8 days later and success!  Very tiny little sprouts emerging.  It has been very wet the last three days and I was afraid they might wash away, but they are here.  The weather is fairly warm.  Can't wait to see if these make it.
Look closely!  They really are there and lots of them.

Running my cleome journal along with the poppies.  The cleome that was seeded on March 5 has finally sprouted.  I copied Tee Sprout and moved my "greenhouse" to some bright light - in fact it was receiving direct sun through my dining room window.  The container was located on the dining room table, about 4-5' in from the window and received western afternoon sun.  Exactly what they needed as they have sprouted.  Not a lot, but they are there.  Also have some seeds that I am waiting to sow directly into the ground when it warms up a little more outside.  But, it's a good feeling to know that we found the right way to get the cleome started indoors.  Now to keep them alive.

Cleome seeds have sprouted.  Definitely reaching towards the light
and wanting some heat and sunshine. 

May 24, 2014
I have been on vacation for two weeks visiting sons in Colorado and Utah.  Left my plants with kamsprout and mamsprout.  They did a great job!  My plants are all growing nicely.
Below are photos of the lobelia that now fills the seed trays.  Still too early to do anything, but I have removed them from their plastic baggie tent and have on my kitchen counter in bright light.  I gave UC Sprout one of the plastic sections as she has good growing conditions for them - woodland area.  Hopefully they will make it.

Also, my cleome is now doing well.  Not big enough to transplant but definitely standing on their own and growing well.

Lobelia on the top filling their seed starting cells.
Cleome on the bottom.  New sets of leaves emerging and stems sturdy enough to support them.

And not to forget my "second chance" Shirley poppies - they are continuing to do well.  Lots of seedlings and will need to thin out sometime I know, but right now just enjoying that they are growing and they will make a splash in my vegetable garden.
June 21, 2014
Happy Birthday West Virginia - June 20 - yesterday!  151 years old.  Lots of celebrations around Charleston.
Tending to my plants today.  First the lobelia which is struggling in its original tiny seed starting cells.  Starting to lose a few so need to do something, but have a busy day ahead.  So, last night I filled a small clay pot with a mixture of seed starting soil and potting soil.  Let it stand moistened overnight.  This morning I just take the small clumps in each cell and space around the pot.  They are still so small and such fragile roots that I hate to mess with them.  Spaced out some in the new pot and put outside on my front porch under a window box where they can have shelter from the gulley washers we have had lately, yet get some natural daylight and warm weather.  Morning sun here, afternoon shade and I can control the water.  Will have to watch to make sure they don't get scorched.
Baby blue lobelias in a new pot.  Not the best, but will have to do for now.
Next the cleome which is also ready to get out the baby bed.  I do the same thing with it - but in a much larger pot.  These seedlings are tall and straggly with very thin roots.  The first real set of leaves is starting but not much growth and they are curling up, so definitely  need moved.  These seedlings are stronger, so I can individually space these around the same pot.  Put them in the same location as the lobelia for now so that I can watch them carefully. Eventually they will need a sunnier spot, but not for now.  Stay tuned! 
The cleome are doing better but still need some space, light and fresh air.
Finally - my Shirley Poppies.  They are not liking the rain that we have had, but are still managing to hang on.
July 21, 2014
Back from a great beach vacation.  Looks like all my plants did well.  Below is a photo of the cleome which is outgrowing the small pot.  Need to try to find a sunny, semi protected (from dogs & people feet) in the yard and put them in the ground.  They have a good start now and hardy stems and can go in the ground.  Will do another update when I get them in the ground.
A nice full pot of cleome - sturdy stems, nice leaf development.
Going to find a place to put these directly into the ground now.
August 23, 2014
Neither the Lobelia or the Shirley poppies made it.  I think the Shirley poppies were crowded out by the vegetables - I sowed the seeds too close and as the vegetables grew, there was too much shade.  Plus I think the soil was too rich.  Will try again next year on those.  We have also managed to save some of the seed from the opium poppy and since members are having luck with that, maybe it is a better one for our climate.  The lobelia never made it out of the seed trays. 
I have had great luck with the cleome.  Last week I took it out of the pot above where I continued to let it grow until they were close to 12" high and lots of strong stems.  I have not put it into the ground and marked it so that I won't absent mindedly pull it up when weeding.  I have separated and put into three different areas in hopes that it makes it.  I'm not sure whether it will flower or not this year. We tend to have hot, dry autumns here, so that could bring good news.  We are experiencing low temperatures and lots of rain though, so that is the bad news.  I am hoping that by waiting and keeping the plants protected the stems will be strong enough now to support the strong thunderstorms.  Although there will not be seeds ready for Shirley Meniece this year, I will collect a pretty pink and white variety from a neighbor and try to send.
One of the plantings of cleome.  Still small but healthy!
Rain - go away!!
October 21, 2014
I thought it doubtful that I would have flowers on the cleome since they did not go in the ground until late August.  But a warm and fairly dry September-October on a south-facing hillside has produced lots of growth, and finally flowers!  The cleome area  lovely pure pink.  There will definitely be seeds soon.  Shirley Meniece has come and gone this year, but I will start some of these seeds this spring and hopefully have seeds to send back to Shirley Meniece Conference next year.  One of our plants will succeed in going full circle!


  1. New update on WV Sprouts Journal 1, too. Unfortunately not much new to report. Patience is required!

  2. I have lobelia sprouts - almost threw out the tray but then looked closely and sprouts coming up all over - this is after a month! They are tinier than the poppies. So, don't despair, hang on to your trays as there may still be things germinating!

  3. Shirley poppies sown outside today. Something new to try for the deer - tube socks soaked in deer repellant.

  4. New updates today on both the Shirley poppy seeds (sowed direct 8 days ago) and the cleome (indoors on March 5).

  5. New updates on lobelia and cleome. Thanks mamsprout and kamsprout for babysitting while I was on vacation. And good luck to UC Sprout who took a section. Anyone else want some? They need longer in the seed starters before transplanting and then a nice woodland site - they came from Carter's house so that will give you an indication of growing location.

  6. Did a little bit of work this morning on my lobelia and cleome, so updates there. Just not enough time right now to tend to these properly! But they are alive and SLOWLY growing.

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  8. Finally - flowers on the cleome and seeds soon! Too late to send to Shirley Meniece Conference this year, but will try again earlier next year. This plant will make it full circle back to the conference - 2013-2015!