My favourite new metaphor for life and working during winter, as well as a pretty essential phase for successful seed prop. Already we’re hitting lows of minus 6.Minus 6!?… Our luxurious headquarters are no place to be during tea and lunch breaks, being an unheated potting shed. We’ve taken to accumulating in the positively tropical 12 degrees of the bubble-wrapped prop room to defrost our extremities.
The good thing about this cold weather though, is that seeds that need stratification can be well and truly vernalised and since the entire garden was frozen and jobs were limited, I spent the entire day sowing some of our MAHOOSIVE seed list. It surprises some people the amount of seed you can sow now, in fact shit-loads of perennial material can and should be sown from September onwards and need the natural cold of winter in order to be teased into growth once the temperatures rise in Spring. You can mimic the cold by placing trays in a fridge, but I’m very much a believer in trying to recreate natural conditions as much as possible, by sowing things late in the year in a cold greenhouse and allow things to come to life in its own sweet time. It is my mission to try and understand the seed’s indigenous conditions and try and replicate that. This is part of what fascinates me about seed prop, you really get a chance to appreciate the individual characteristics and tendencies of plants. For instance, I’ve noticed, that when growing white coloured cultivars, the plants are often slow to germinate and weak to get away. I’ve noted this in Cobaea scandens, Matthiola incana, Catananche and Echinacea. Also, I’ve learned to NEVER throw out a seed tray. Some stuff is just a complete bastard and provided you can keep the compost pest free and void of moss (the curse of Irish propagators), chances are, even after more than a year, you’ll manage to get something. I have a tray that has just germinated two Rehmannia piasezkii, after 18 months and having been bone dry earlier in the year (after forgetting about it) and then being bunged outside to be rained, hailed, desiccated, covered in detritus and almost given up on.. they decided to show themselves about a month ago, today I decided to bring them into the warmth, before the sub-zero temperature undoes all the good neglect.