Over the last two weeks many fellow garden bloggers wrote about their almost uncontrollable desire to start sowing seeds in January! Sharpen Your Spades, The Propagator and Life at No.27 to name just a few. It was named a gardening itch and involves lots of pots, hundreds of seeds and one impatient gardener. I bravely resisted the temptation by not sowing my chillies, cape gooseberries and tomatoes until February but still fell victim of the gardening itch by starting hardy perennials, flowers, ornamental grasses and salad leaves.
Seeds to sow in January
Hardy perennials Achillea Cassis and Astrantia Ruby Cloud. I was kindly given three Astrantia “Alba” plants last July while volunteering at the Zoflora & Caudwell Children’s wild garden at RHS Hampton court flower show. Pure white of Alba is a bit lost in the borders and I would like to add some rich ruby red for an interesting colour mix. Astrantia is known to be a “difficult” plant to grow from seed and needs a cold period to germinate so we will see how it goes!
Snapdragon Frosted Flames – for vibrant colours and attractive variegated foliage.
Sweet pea Maloy. New variety in Mr Fothergills range and according to Roger Parson, who holds National Collection of Sweet Peas, a great sweet pea for cutting with pretty coral, apricot pink flowers.
Verbena Bonariensis and Pheasant’s tail grass were creating an airy, calm, dream like display at my office car park last summer and I collected some seeds to try to replicate this naturalistic planting effect in the wildlife area near the pond. Grasses also provide a sheltered habitat for dragonflies as roosting sites and hunting areas with lots of small flying insects to catch.
Pitcher plant, Sarracenia species (alata x flava x leucoph.x purp.). My top recommendation in January seed sowing! Seriously, this plant is so alien looking with scarlet veins running up tall pale green pitcher leaves and it captures its own food. I am super excited to grow a pitcher plant even if seeds might take up to a year to germinate.
Biophytum Sensitivum. Sowed seeds from my little tree plant, read more about it in my recent post on the indoor plants.
I am conducting a scientific experiment on the seed sowing methods this month. Seeds which volunteered to participate are Achillea, Astrantia, Verbena Bonariensis, Pheasant’s tail grass, Pitcher plant and Biophytum. The first method involves conventional sowing in pots and the second is germination in wet coffee paper stored in a cold place. You can find more about this method on Charlotte’s website. In the spring I will compare germination rates and report on my progress.
Salad greens on the windowsill:
Reine Des Glaces. I discovered this variety in the Real Seed catalogue and it is definitely my favourite salad; crisp and crunchy and winter proof. Even now, in January, in the cold and wet British climate, Queen of Ices salad is growing outside without cloche. I only have three plants in the garden so starting more on the windowsill.
Mustard Red, Basil and Pea Meteor (for green shoots). While I am writing this post, little green heads of Pea Meteor and Red Mustard have already appeared in the pots. Only took them 6 days, quicker than it takes me to write an article on London Plantology! 🙂
There are also a few cuttings and seedlings in my mini greenhouse which were started last October.
Medjool Dates from Israel.
Back in May I went for an Aikido seminar in Tel Aviv and in the Sensei’s house we were offered the most delicious dates from the Ramat HaSharon neighbourhood. I saved some seeds and am now growing Medjool dates mostly for fun and potentially exotic look as there is no way to tell if 4 plants raised are males or females. Maybe I will be lucky and have both!
Clematis cuttings: Cirrhosa Freckles and Montana Rubens. After watching Carol Klein on the Gardeners’ World programme explaining how easy it is to propagate clematis from the internodal cuttings, I was fired up to give it a go.
It was indeed dead easy! All cuttings developed nice roots and had new leaves emerging until December, when, the Montana Rubens clematis lost all leaves but Cirrhosa Freckles is still doing well. I wonder if this is because clematis Montana is not evergreen.
In the photo Cirrhosa clematis is flowering by my front door. I enjoy seeing its unusual speckled flowers in the winter when not much else is going on in the garden.
Scabiosa Tall Double mixed. Learning from experience, sowing Scabiosa in the autumn for early flowering plants. I have a dozen healthy seedlings, which will go in the ground in mid April if weather allows.
Honesty and Hollyhocks, seeds collected on various garden visits. This feeling of collecting plant seeds yourself, patiently waiting for little seedlings to appear, trying to figure what they will be, looking forward to flowers and getting surprised by them, is very special. For me this is where all the fun of being a gardener is. The most precious seed is always the one you save!
Foxgloves Dalmatian mixed, seeds from Mr Fothergills. Seedlings are still small and a bit slow to develop, but the germination rate is great – 10 out of 12! This variety is supposed to flower in the first year, fingers crossed. Foxglove plants are also referred to as Bee Catchers and together with hollyhocks should be a winning combination to attract bees in the garden.
Sweet pea Scented mix. Some fragrant sweet peas, which I will be growing in addition to sweet pea “Maloy”, sown in autumn and, probably not realising it is winter, have multiple green shoots popping out everywhere. I wish they had waited till spring!
Primula Noverna Deep Blue. Read a story about this delicate silver purple primula in my blog post here. I will also be trying a new variety, Primula Florindae Apricot Shades from Special Plants nursery. I think deep blue and orange will look stunning together but mostly I am excited about growing primula from seed again!
Broad bean Aguadulce. My first attempt to grow broad beans and they are getting impressively huge. I will pinch out their tops with two leaves attached and will use them in the kitchen as a leaf vegetable. Nutty and beanzzzy flavour, yummy!
Broccoli rabe and turnips for micro greens. Some spicy leaves to add to the winter salads.
Are you planning to sow some seeds this month? Let me know in the comments below.