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Direct seeding

Starting seeds indoors and transplanting seedlings is not the only way to start seeds. The other, and often easier, option is to direct seed.

The advantages of direct seeding are that you can plant into the soil, let the rain water the seeds, and let nature do its thing. The disadvantage is that you are dependent on rainfall unless you use drip tape and are at the mercy of the weather.

Before you sow

The first step in direct sowing seeds is to examine the seed packet of the seeds you want to plant. Does the seed need light or dark to germinate? Does it need cold or warm weather? Does it need to be planted deeply? Gather this information and use it to help you determine when to plant and how to plant.

Before you sow any seeds, make sure to prepare your soil and flower bed. With the flower bed above, I aerated it with a broadfork, integrated compost, and covered the bed with leaves in the fall. When I was ready to plant, I removed the leaves and used a rake to even out the soil and compost. Then, I created three shallow rows with a collinear hoe. Bonus: happy worms!

Sowing seeds

After you have prepared the soil, keeping in mind the needs of the seeds you are planting, begin to sow the seeds, pressing the seed into the soil or sprinkling it on top. Cover the seeds with soil, as indicated on the seed packet. Remember that spacing is important. If you direct seed and sprinkle seeds along the row, you will need to go back and thin your plants as they grow. You can do this by snipping at the bottom of the shoot. If you pull a seedling out by the root, you risk disrupting the other seedlings you are growing.

I planted another succession of orlaya last week. Orlaya likes cool weather. I kept the seeds in the freezer for a few weeks before planting the seeds. They need a light cover of soil. You can see the first succession at the bottom of the photo with leaves mulched around the plants. My goal is to continue to plant successions of orlaya every two weeks to have it available for market bouquets. Orlaya also self-seeds really well. The existing plants in this picture self-sowed and popped up this fall. I transplanted them to this bed and covered them with frost cloth. They survived the very cold weather we had in late December and have been growing well. You can see orlaya from last year below.

One of the transitions I want to make on my farm is to transition to established beds where flowers can self-sow over years, cutting down the amount of work it takes to start seeds. This would work well with flowers that resist disease.

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