Friday, March 16, 2012

Herbs From Seed: Rosemary

~ rosemary seedling ~
I sometimes do things the 'hard' way - ok - I do ALOT of things the 'hard' way... Meaning, I like to grow things from seed.

I like the process. Starting with sterile seed medium, clean pots, packages of teeny, tiny seed. Carefully putting a few seeds in each & then waiting-waiting-waiting for them to sprout & then caring for them til they are large enough to be transplanted.

I grow all my herbs from seed.

Rosemary is a tough herb to grow out here on the wet coast. It prefers drier & warmer winter conditions than we have. Many years we can safely grow it in the ground or in pots outside without too many worries. But if we have a particularly cold winter with freezing conditions that last longer than a few days, many people will loose their plants.

I've had moderate luck keeping my rosemary in planters up on the deck on the south-facing wall. Seems to keep the plants warm enough during the cold days of winter & it's got a bit of protection from the onslaught of rains - unless they are the side-ways rains, than nothing is safe!

When I start my seeds, I put 2 or 3 of those teeny, tiny seeds in each small pot & just press them into the moist soil. I then put a cover over them to retain humidity & this year, I have put the flats on my heated bathroom floor - which cycles between 18 to 28 degrees Celsius through-out the day. Once the seeds have germinated, they are moved into the front room where it is cooler (between 15 to 20 degrees Celsius) & are put under a grow light (albeit a very wimpy & short lighting system).

The package said that rosemary is notoriously slow in germinating - it might take up to 21 days for them to sprout. Well, half my pots sprouted in only 7 days! Just shows that bottom heat is key. I've got my fingers crossed that the other half will sprout in the next few days as well.

Once the seedlings are large enough - will probably take a few months, I'll transplant them to large pots & have them live in the greenhouse. They will probably remain in small'ish pots for at least a full year before I move them into planter boxes or just leave them in pots in the greenhouse.

I've never had success with taking cuttings & rooting them, or else I would be doing that instead of hedging my bets with a package of teeny, tiny seeds. Some things work well for others & not for me. Go figure.

~ kale ~
 Other Seedlings:
I am suffering from kale withdrawal. None of my seeds sprouted last year - most likely because I planted them in the veggie beds too early & we got nailed by a very wet spring. This year I started my Russian kale & Lacinato kale indoors at the end of February. They sprouted within 3 days & are looking very healthy.

~ marigolds ~
I can never have enough marigolds in my gardens. I love their colour, their foliage & strangely enough, their scent. Most people don't. I saved seeds from last year's monster plants (4 feet tall!!) and have a few pots on the go. I want to plant several flats & this was the germination test. My own seeds are viable! But then again, flower seeds are pretty easy to collect & grow. These seeds sprouted in only 5 days & are now just over 2 weeks old.

It's time I get my greenhouse in order so that I can start moving things in there & get more seeds going in the house. I will try a few flats in the greenhouse, but might wait a few more weeks as we are still having rather cold & unpredictable weather & the greenhouse is draughty.

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