Sunday, March 10, 2013

My Macedon annual bed & the dangers of over thinking in the garden

“You may delay, but time will not”
- Benjamin Franklin 

Sometimes I find myself thinking and thinking about the best way to do things. Then realize that the time I've spent thinking and planning together with a dash of procrastination has meant that an opportunity has been let slip. This good old routine is one that I find can apply to my own garden at home if I let it. You can plan and think then plan some more and before you know it the season has changed and you've left your run too late. Then sometimes somebody will show you a more simple method and its like a revelation even though it seems so simple you feel idiotic for not trying it in the first place.


Anyway enough of the life advice what I'm referring to is sowing seeds and the timing involved. When faced with a small project eg (my annual bed at home) I used to sit down, look through books and look on the Internet for what was good in terms of timing the planting. I would then go buy the seeds (or even worse order them online creating more waiting time). Gather the packets and stare at them whilst considering where to plant them. I would then go buy some seed sowing mix. Sow the seeds. Then transplant them into larger pots after waiting for them to develop true leaves..... I think you get the picture, there was lots of planning, dreaming and waiting and not much action.

Below is my annual bed in Macedon. The Hollyhocks, pansies and Amaranthus are all at the end of their life. I'm leaving them in there until the new seedlings are ready to go. This will suppress weeds and hopefully make the old annuals drop a whole lot of seed so some will emerge next spring. I have already sneaked some Nasturtiums in there (sown directly in place).

  • Go to the store and choose some seeds (If I don't know I just check the sow time on the back of the pack), then come home and dump half a pack in a 6 or 10 inch plastic pot filled with regular potting mix. 
  • I then water them in and its all done. I can get it all done in a matter of an hour if I'm rushing. Then whilst waiting for them to shoot I dream of where they will be planted out. 
  • When it comes to timing when to plant them out I just wait for the seedlings to develop true leaves then wait maybe another week or so. I then know they can photosynthesize and grow.
  • I then plant out about 2 thirds of the seedlings and leave the rest in the pot. Any that die after planting out can be replaced by the remaining 1 third of seedlings left in the pot as backup plants.

  • Planting them in regular potting mix means that if you do end up leaving them a bit too long they have the nutrients of the potting mix to keep them alive (seed raising mix isn't nutrient rich and serves only as a growing medium up to the point of the plant developing its first true leaves).
  • You inevitably spend less time waiting and procrastinating.
  • You save money. Instead of paying $5 for a single small punnet of annual flowers you can get hundreds for about half that price and that includes the price of the potting mix. You also eliminate the cost of buying seed raising mix.
  • You get a planted out garden bed instead of a patch of dirt.

Below are what will become hundred of seedling of annual flowers (double cornflowers, giant pansies, larkspurs, poppys and giant asters). I planted them about one and a half weeks ago. The packets cost only about $2 each.


Planning is necessary and even the way I approach this now does involve some planning in selecting the plants and planting location. For example I bought some tall plants for the back of the bed and some smaller ones for the front. I also tried to get a mix of shapes and colours because I'm aiming for a bit of variety as opposed to uniformity. If you are an incredible disciplined gardener who can keep to a schedule no matter what then maybe this method will not help you. I suppose this can all be summarized (maybe a little too simply) in the old adages 'We don't need a thinker we need a doer' and 'The time for planning is over it's now time for action'. If you are a bit of a dreamer who's tendency for over planning and perfectionism sometimes outweighs the need for action then maybe this will help you to no end. I know it definitely helps me. Now go plant some seeds :)

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