Califonia Bountiful

Gardening Q&A

July/August 2017 California Bountiful magazine

As a California Bountiful reader, you have the opportunity to get your seasonal gardening questions answered by gardening expert Pat Rubin. Here are a few questions from our readers.

I want to have a garden full of perennials such as coreopsis, columbine, foxgloves and all of those wonderful flowers you hear about in cottage gardens, but I am on a tight budget. Can I plant them from seed?

Absolutely. And now is the time to plant seeds of those plants so you have nice, healthy starts to put in the garden this fall. There are two ways to go about this. First, you could buy a few of the plants you desire and let them go to seed. Either collect the seed as it ripens (the plant will be your guide) or let it fall where it may for new plants for next year. The second option is something I enjoy every year: browsing through seed catalogs. I do my ordering online, but find the most enjoyment in having a hard copy of a catalog and a cup of tea while it is stormy outside. Some of my favorites include Seeds of Change, Johnny's Selected Seeds, Abundant Life Seed Foundation, Seed Savers Exchange and J.L. Hudson. Also, don't forget the seed rack at your local nursery.

When you plant your seeds, use a good planting mix, keep the soil damp but not waterlogged and make sure the seedlings get plenty of sun once they germinate. Too little sun and they will be leggy; too much and they will burn. Morning sun is best. If you have sown them in flats, you'll have to pot them into larger containers once they get their first set of true leaves. If you have potted them in larger containers, they can stay there until it is time to put them in the ground.

What kind of soil do I use for a window box?

Choose a planting mix that has plenty of compost in it. Avoid sterile mixes. Because a window box is like a pot and every time you water you are washing nutrients away, I'd add a time-release fertilizer to the mix.

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