Greetings and salutations everyone; yes, once again it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, here to tell you all about my day in the garden. You may remember me from such delightful and astonishing posts as “Mister Always Right” (the one about whether or not Claude Barr had a telephone) and “The Two Of Us” (the one with me and my mommy together in the garden).
Here I am in a characteristic pose.Today’s post will be a didactic one, which to me means boring, but maybe starting off with an excellent picture of me will make it okay. In fact, I’m watching the guy I live with do what he did today. It was a really nice day, so I could sit outside and just watch.
He’s kind of a procrastinator. He didn’t used to be, but now, having nothing really important to do for weeks on end, he puts stuff off. He said yesterday that he had been putting off sowing seed and that he’d better get his act together pretty soon, so today he did. What needed sowing, he said, was seed of the bitterroot, Lewisia rediviva.
According to the guy I live with, bitterroot seeds should be sown at this time of year, or even a little earlier, because some of the seed will germinate when the temperature is below freezing and the little seedlings will be fine. The leaves of bitterroot, in the garden, come up about now, and he spent some time looking for the tiny green leaves, but couldn’t find them. He might have been looking in the wrong place.
Anyway, he started out with a mix of potting soil (peat free) and sand and some pumice. He says it doesn’t make much difference what you use so long as there isn’t too much organic matter. Otherwise things rot.
Then he got out his trusty B.E.F. Grower’s Pots, which cost twenty-five cents each about twenty-five years ago, and which you can’t get any more.
They’ve been outside ever since and have still retained their flexibility.
The pots are filled with the soil-less mix and set in the dish pan.
The dish pan is then filled with water, and he waits until the soil-less mix has absorbed the water, and then sows the seed.
Sometimes, the guy I live with has a helper.
I don’t help, because my job is watching.
Once the seed is sown, by sprinkling the seed on top, gently tapping the open packet with a finger, the pots are topped off with squeegee. I don’t know why they call it squeegee, but they do; it’s smaller than pea gravel. He ran it through a sieve first, but only because he has horticultural sieves and felt like it.
All the pots are labeled and ready to be set out into the frames. He says to make sure I say that this process is called vernalization, and not stratification. With stratification the seeds go into the refrigerator. Here, we just wait until spring, and “stuff comes up”, he says. And the seedlings emerge into the same conditions in which they’ll be planted later.
Then, and this is the part that I find hard to believe, he carries the dish pan full of pots to the frame, so carefully and painstakingly slowly that it makes me think he turns into a different person. Maybe he does.
The guy I live with has been doing this for so long, about a quarter century, that it was unsettling, the times he didn’t do it, but there was a reason for that, and now, he says he has to be like a shark, always going forward, with seeds and plants and stuff. We don’t have sharks in Colorado, and I think I’m glad, but then, I don’t go swimming. When I was little and snuck up on my buddy Slipper, who would just be lying on the couch or something minding his own business, and I’d pounce on him, my mommy called me a “rug shark”, but I think that was something different. I don’t really know.
Well, that was my day. Mostly watching the guy I live with sow seeds. I hope you enjoyed this, in spite of that.
Until next time, then.