Baby Makin’: Germinating Pines, Joshua Trees, and California Poppies

I didn’t put on any Luther Vandross or Barry White. But, maybe I should. What I did do, however, was to get out my Germination Station (Note: that link is to Amazon, but, at least right now, I don’t get anything for referring you to it. I’m linking it for information, though.) and fill it with some Black Gold seedling mix so I could sow some seeds and give it a try. As I mentioned in a previous post, I will be putting together a vegetable and herb garden bed. To grow those plants from seed, I got these items to increase my chances at success. The germination station comes with a heating pad and a cover to keep the seeds warm and moist. Also, this way, I should know if the seedling is a plant I’m growing or a weed.

To practice, I filled the 72 cells with the soil mix and sowed seeds for pine trees, Joshua trees, and California poppies. I got all of these seeds from a store in Julian, CA called the Julian Candy Basket when we visited this summer. It was a whim. I had bought California Poppies seeds last year but I lost the packets. These were seed packets that were inside of postcards. The were less than $3 each so I thought, “What the heck!” I like Joshua Trees and would like to have a couple in the corner of my yard. I had been wanting poppies, and the post card said it contained Blue Spruce, Bristle Cone Pine, Douglas Fir, Pinyon Pine, and White Pine. But, once I opened the card and got out the seed envelope it listed White Spruce, Norway Spruce, and Black Hills Spruce.

Seriously?! None of these seeds are what the card said they would be!

Come on, man!

I only bought it because it said it was seeds for a “Grand Canyon Pine Forest.” I am trying to have a California Native garden. Although I would like to be a purist and only grow plants that are native to my home state, I’ve already made a few concessions. I have some succulents that I’m not familiar with at all and I never see them on any of native plant sites. I also have a Gambel Oak which is, theoretically, suitable for this climate, but is actually native to Colorado. I have enjoyed visiting the Grand Canyon and I really like Pinyon pines. So, if I got a couple of those, I would have been perfectly happy. Even a Douglas Fir would be cool because it could be a Christmas tree one day.

But, no. All Spruces. Ugh.

Anyway, I’m just practicing. So, it’s fine. Maybe if they grow, I will put them in little 1 gallon pots and give them as Christmas gifts next year. That might be fun. You know, if growing trees is fun to you. The Black Hills and the Norway Spruce trees are pretty, at least, and the White Spruce grows fast. Maybe I will use them in the back yard on the western side of the north yard on the other side of the pool. They could act as screen for the street. I could, I suppose plant them in the front yard, too. We’ll see what happens.

In case you’re interested (and if you’re not, I will remind you that you voluntarily came to this blog to read this), I’ll briefly describe my process for sowing the seeds. If nothing else, this will serve as notes for me in case it doesn’t work so I might be able to figure out what I did wrong.

My germination station. That’s baby makin’ goin’ on right there.

First, I dropped the soil into the little cells in the tray that came with the germination station. I filled them to the top but I didn’t pack the soil down. I would drop the soil and then slide my hand across the top to scoop it into the cells, kind of like I was leveling it out. Then, I took the seeds and tried to drop one in per cell. In a couple cases, with the pines and poppies, I got two or even three in a single cell. Those seeds were small. The Joshua tree seeds were much larger, a little more than 1/4 inch wide, but thin. So, each of those cells got one.

There are six rows vertically and 12 across. On the right side, I sowed the first two rows with Joshua trees. So, 12 of those. On the left side, I sowed three rows of pines. So, 18 pines. The rest are California poppies, all in the middle. I did it that way so I could remember which was which.

After I placed the seeds, I went through and covered them. Next time I will get a little stick or something to make a hole about 1/8th of an inch deep to drop the seed in. We’ll see how this goes. Maybe I did it wrong. So, then I put the tray inside the station’s tray and watered the soil. I used a water bottle, like people drink out of, and poked holes in the lid to make a little sprinkler. I watered enough to saturate the soil but not so much to leave water standing in the bottom of the station. I put the lid on the tray, plugged in the heating pad and then set up the lights.

Now it’s up to the seeds to do their thing.

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