Plant More than Pansies this Fall!

Grow your own plants from seed and you will enter a whole new world of flowers. You and your garden will no longer be limited to what is available at the garden center.

Hardy annuals can be planted in the fall and will thrive through our winters as baby plants to become the first blooms in spring. These plants follow those same tendencies as pansies and can also be planted in very early spring, 6-8 weeks before your last frost date. We call them hardy annuals. Fall and early spring gardens are some of the most rewarding gardens to plant.

Our easy to start seeds, seed starting how-to's and supplies will help you grow your own seedlings. In addition to being economical, this is also a lot of fun!

You can either select seeds that prefer to be planted directly in the ground, or you can choose seeds that favor being started indoors, and then planted outdoors after they are several weeks old. Both ways are easy, surprisingly rewarding and you will have many flowers to choose from.

I have highlighted some of each group below and also offered an overview on the steps for starting seeds indoors and planting seeds directly in the garden. We have a video clip of the soil blocking method on our website, and a more detailed and in-depth Seed Starting DVD available.

We have been planting in the fall since 1998 with tremendous success. You should get in on the best kept secret in gardening!

Save 10% on seed-starting supplies between now and September 30, 2012. Use promotion code #09-2012 during checkout to get your discount.

Remember all orders ship for $5.95!

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Seeds we are Starting Indoors Now:

Click on the name to go to a photo and description. Hit the back button to return to this list. To view the entire list of fall planted seeds click here..

• Sweet William "Sweet" one of the first flowers to bloom in spring.

• Snapdragon Chantilly-the earliest to bloom for us, March!

• Snapdragon Opus- the next snap to begin blooming for us.

• Snapdragon Madame Butterfly- this double bloom looks like a butterfly.

• Snapdragon Rocket- blooms into summer.

• Snapdragon Sonnet-a great landscape snap with a shorter stem.

• Scabiosa- in blue, red, and black, we love it.

• Rudbeckias- Indian Summer, Double Daisy, Goldilocks, click here, and Irish Eyes. These varieties do not reseed heavily unlike the more invasive native type.

• Feverfews- We love Tetra White and the native type.

• False Queen Anne's Lace- The bloom turns from mauve to green and is gorgeous!

Make your own seed-starting blocks!

I have been making my own soil blocks since 1998. It is an easy, cost-effective and space savvy way of growing a healthy transplant.

Soil blocks are free-standing blocks of soil used rather than peat pots or seed flats, and no containers are needed. This method is earth-friendly and we find more successful than other ways of starting seeds.

We find that the transplants are robust, suffer no root shock, establish quickly, and grow into superior plants. The blocking tool is used year after year; just add seeds and blocking mix each season.

Click here to view a seed-starting demonstration.

How-to make the blocks:

To make the soil blocks, just fill a soil blocker with thoroughly moistened blocking mix, set the blocker in a tray and release. With one stroke you'll create multiple soil blocks, each with a small depression in the top for the seed.

We pour our seeds into an aluminum seed pan and use a toothpick moistened with saliva to plant one seed in each block. After planting the seeds, you follow the same steps as with other seed starting methods. Place the trays on a seedling heat mat until they sprout and then move to light.

Blocks are watered by pouring water into the tray. Grow under lights until they reach 4"-5" tall and then move outdoors for 1 to 2 weeks to toughen them up before planting in the garden. We cover transplants with a floating row cover to provide protection from sun, drying winds, rabbits and squirrels.

What you will need:

Soil Blocker: Two sizes: the Mini 20 Blocker makes twenty Ύ" square blocks for most flower seeds and small-seeded vegetables and herbs, and the Large Blocker makes four 2" square blocks for large seeded flowers (Sweet Peas, etc.) and vegetables (Squash, etc.). Note: We use the Mini 20 blocker 99% of the time on our flower farm. Call us if you aren't sure which will work for you.

Blocking Mix: We sell the Blocking Mix in a 5 lb bag that will make 30 sets of the Mini 20 blocker, which equals 600 transplants. We also provide the recipe for the homemade blocking mix with the purchase of a blocker. My advice is to purchase a bag of the pre-made mix your first time so you get the feel of the proper texture, then mix at home in the future if desired.

Container to make blocks in and a mixing tool: Because water is mixed with the blocking mix you need a tub that is water tight and easy to work in. A kitty liner pan is perfect and we find that a potato masher is the perfect mixing tool (a potato masher comes free with the Soil Blocking Kit.)

Blocker trays: The perfect reusable trays are the foam trays that meat comes on from the grocery store. The tray needs to be water tight and small. I advise putting only one type variety of seed on a tray because of the differing germination rates. We sell the trays if you need a few to get started.

Seeds: Having viable seeds is essential for success. Buy only from reliable sources, and store seeds properly to carry over to the next season.

Seed Pan: Using an aluminum Seed Pan prevents static cling. This in combination with the moistened toothpick makes planting the seeds fast and easy.

Organic Fertilizer: We use a Liquid Seaweed and Fish fertilizer on our transplants. Once sprouted, I water them weekly according to the directions on the bottle.

Heat and Light:

A Seedling Heat Mat is the missing component in most folks attempt to start seeds indoors. Ever tried to start seeds indoors and had little to no germination? Or those that did germinate fell over limp after the first couple of days? Cold soil causes these problems. Most seeds varieties germinate between 75 to 85 degrees. Your home's air temperature would have to be over 90 degrees to warm the soil to 75 degrees.

A Seedling Heat Mat has a built-in thermostat that heats to 15-20 degrees warmer than the surrounding room temperature. Warm soil enhances germination. The seeds germinate quicker, and more evenly. In addition, the warmed soil also prevents damping off, the cause of limp seedlings.

The Table Top Grow Light is another of those essentials for easy success. You can place your seedlings on a windowsill, however the plants will be stretching to great lengths to get enough light. This causes your plants to get tall and leggy in little to no time.

A seedling requires 16 hours of light a day to grow into a healthy, short, and well branched transplant. Healthy transplants have more vigor, produce more flowers or fruit and live a healthier disease resistant life. Our grow lights are plugged into a grounded timer to turn them on a 5am and turn them off at 9pm.

Remember you will save 10% on seed-starting supplies between now and September 30, 2012. Use promotion code #09-2012 during checkout to get your discount!

Click here for all seed-starting supplies listed above.

Seeds to Plant Directly in the Garden in the Fall

Click on the name to go to a photo and description. Hit the back button to return to this list.

• Corn Cockle-one of the first bloomers in the garden.

• Green Mist-this is a Queen Anne's Lace look alike, strong reseeder.

• Bupleurum –a great foliage plant with a cluster of little yellow flowers, TGW Favorite!

• Calendula- another early bloomer with a flowers in yellow, orange and ivory.

• Larkspur-another reseeder in the garden when it is happy.

• Nigella-this flower is beautiful in bloom and then develops into a nice pod.

• Poppies-these delicate flowers will reseed themselves when you pick the right spot.

• Sweet Peas - Royal Mix, High Scent, and Knee-Hi Mix produces beautiful and fragrant flowers.

• Bachelor Buttons- Blue Boy and Formula Mix are both old fashion favorites.

• False Queen Anne's Lace TGW favorite! A mauve Queen Anne's Lace.

• Bells of Ireland-never have enough of these flowers in the garden!

How-to Plant Seeds Directly in the Garden:

• Start with a weed free spot. Right before planting your seeds disturb the top 1"-2" of soil to eliminate any in-progress weed germination. This gives your flower seeds the same chance to grow as the weed seeds that live in all soil.

• Using a trowel or your hand, draw a line in the bed or make depressions in the soil with your hand in a grouping pattern or straight line in which plant your seeds in. This line or depression is shaped similar to a "V" like a trough that is approximately 1-2" deep. The seeds will be planted at the bottom of the "V" trough. This helps direct water to the seeds and makes it easy to see where you've planted.

• For small seeds, pick up several between your fingers and sprinkle in the bottom of the trough. Larger seeds can be spaced every 3-4". Cover the seeds according to directions, firming in with a light touch of your hand.

• Mark your seed plantings! Use plastic knives as markers, and write seed names with a Garden Permanent Marker Pen.

• Water in well and keep moist until they have germinated, which can be 4 – 30 days depending on your conditions. Covering with a Floating Row Cover for 10-14 days after planting will enhance germination greatly. This cover helps to retain soil moisture, protects from the hot sun and drying winds, and it keeps rabbits, squirrels and other pests at bay.

• Once a week push back the row cover and remove any sizeable weeds by hand, and run a Hand Hoe or stand-up Garden Hoe over the entire area except where the seeds are planted. This will eliminate any germinating weed seedlings.

• Once a week until winter comes, water with an Organic Liquid Fertilizer according to directions.

• When the plants reach 4-8" tall, remove the row cover, weed and thin to the recommended spacing. Mulch with any organic mulch such as but not limited to: bark, shredded leaves, or pine straw. We apply mulch deeply to prevent weed growth. If mulch settles, top off as needed.

• Your bed should be ready to go to sleep for the winter. We often replace the row cover after mulching just to provide added protection and to get the earliest bloom. The added warmth created by the row cover encourages growth.

Now just wait for spring blooms!

Come learn more about seed starting this fall:

• September 15, Monticello Harvest Festival, Lisa will give the lecture and slide show "Easy Fall-Planted Cut Flowers from Seed" followed by "Easy Seed Starting" in the afternoon. TGW will also be set up as a vendor. Located in Charlottesville, Virginia. Pre-registration is required for the morning session, the afternnon seed-starting class will be at the TGW booth. Click here, scroll down to Saturday 10:15 workshops to register 

• September 20, Guilford Gardening Seminar and Gala, Lisa will give the lecture and slide show "Easy Fall-Planted Cut Flowers from Seed." TGW will also be set up as a vendor. Hosted by the Guilford, North Carolina Master Gardeners in Greensboro, NC.

• September 22, Virginia Living Museum "Members Only Event." Canceled due to flood.

• September 29, Currituck North Carolina Master Gardeners are hosting a fall planting seminar with Lisa. For more information contan Jan at the Currituck County Center, 252-232-2262 .

• October 3, The Fall Flower Festival hosted by the Virginia Beach Garden Club at the Convention Center, VA Beach, VA. Free admission. TGW will be set-up as a vendor with fall-planted seeds, seed starting supplies and gardening items available.

• Oct. 6 York County Horticultural Extravaganza, Easy Seed Starting for Indoors and Outdoors, registration required, call 757-890-4940.

• Oct. 13 Yorktown Market Days Farmer's Market,Lisa will be set-up with all seed starting supplies and demos. Click here for more.

• October 22, Piedmont District Meeting in Richmond, VA. TGW will be set up as a vendor.

• October 23, Talbot County Garden Club in Talbot, Maryland. Lisa will present a fall planting program followed with shopping seeds and gardening supplies. For more information contact Pat Lewers • The Gardener's Workshop