The Starting Seeds Outside Fiasco


Carol @ May Dreams Gardens had a hoe down once and I participated. This is a picture of my only hoe. I’ve never needed but that one. She has many and they are posted at her website if you care to see her lot of them. It is an education to read about all her hoes and their uses.

I want to tell you what not to do when planting new seed. Do not sow the seed in new beds if you think weeds may still surface.  I made many mistakes this year that I won’t be repeating next season. I have new beds and amended them at the same time the seeds were planted in the ground. I directly sowed them and carefully covered each seed to the desired depth. Most of them came up and so did the weeds. It got so bad that I had to pull many of the seed varieties up with the weeds. They all sprouted at the same time and were too intertwined to separate. It was a disaster and I knew all was lost this season.

There were a few varieties that made it like the Zinnias, cosmos, sunflowers, and vegetables. They have larger stems and survived pulling the weeds around them. I will direct sow those again.   

My problem was in the horse manure delivered to my house and worked in to these beds. It was too fresh and sprouted a million weeds and grasses. It was almost overwhelming and I cried losing all those seedlings in the process of pulling weeds. I wasn’t home the day they delivered the manure and worked it in or I would have halted the process. We didn’t own the house yet. I had to rework the beds after the landscapers were done making of mess of things. They clearly did not know what they were doing. If I had put any plants in my beds they would have died in this clay.

If you are going to directly sow seed, make sure your beds were weed free the previous year. If you add amendments, make sure it is at least a yr old and from a reputable source. I won’t be adding any more manure like that. I’ll be adding the stuff that says it’s 99% weed free. I’ll probably sow many of the varieties in pots first. The chipmunks had a wonderful time chowing down on the seedlings. They don’t bother plants that are several inches high.

The moral of this story and I knew better, I just assumed the landscapers knew too—-don’t put down fresh manure, don’t sow where you think weeds may still come up, and tender varieties may survive being directly sowed but may not survive the chipmunks so plant indoors.

Please forgive me for not responding these couple of days—I’ve got some kind of stomach virus.

12 Comments Add yours

  1. Oh Anna, I love this post, I’m glad you reposted! Your pink crocks make me smile 🙂
    ** I got lots of crocs–hehehehe. I use to work for a cute plant shop and I matched my crocs to my shirts. I thought it helped me sell more plants. It added to the atmosphere.


  2. I’m so sorry about your seedlings. All that hard work for nothing. I always thought you didn’t want fresh horse manure because it would burn plants. Ending up with tons of weed seedlings is even worse. From seeing all the damage that wreak at my mom’s house, I’ve learned that too often, “landscaping” crews have no clue.
    *** Isn’t it the truth and they don’t care either. They sure took the check and ran fast with it. I don’t even care a thing about hiring another crew. You can’t get people to do good work these days.


  3. Sweetie says:

    Your blooms are beautiful. I have learned a few new things this year; however, I am just an amatuer garden. I am already planning for next year. This is my first visit to your blog and it is lovely. I’ll be back.
    *** I’m so glad you stopped by and thank you.


  4. shirley says:

    Poor Anna,
    You learned your lesson. Thanks for passing it on.
    ** Yes, I’m 50 years old and still learning. When I die, I’ll stop. I’ve been meaning to get over and see your trip to Maui series. But the stomach bug kept me from going any further than the bathroom. I’ll be over in a bit.


  5. Gail says:

    Anna, those aren’t cheap seeds from a big box store either! I only direct sow zinnias…I let plants sow themselves, too! You’ve seen the Rudbeckia! When we expanded the garden the contractor brought in a topsoil I was so excited until I realized I had to make it healthy! They brought me more clay soil! Not loamy clay either! I had already written the check! Hoping you’re recovered! Gail
    ***You noticed…they are expensive seeds and they really did germinate well. I had such grand hopes. Then came what the horse had eaten and worked through his system. Must have been a lush meadow cause I had lots of weeds.

    I guess that will teach us to write the check before we inspect. I actually did come look at it–just didn’t bring my shovel. On the surface, it appeared to be a pretty good job. Well, about an inch down, that all changed. I was later to discover very fresh manure piles added in. I even took it out of my vege garden area as not to promote diseases in my tomatoes. Raw sewage of any kind spells trouble in the garden if you plan on eating it.

    Your gardens are grand now. I’m glad you can get back out there and work them. Your back gardens have a ton of potential and I love the walkway meandering in and about. I do love Rudbekias–and it’s on my list. Thanks for noticing my expensive seed loss:(


  6. Robin says:

    Sorry you’ve been under the weather. I learned some lessons this year too. I sowed most of my seedling indoors or wintered sowed them. Unfortunately, I didn’t use sterile seed starting mix and nurtured weeds all winter. I’ll never do that again! Live and learn.
    *** I’m better today but getting ready to take a nap. So we can add sterile seed mix to our list of musts for next year. I wouldn’t have thought of that either. I do remember that you planted a good bit of seeds. Thank goodness we got other plants we can depend on or I might go through flower withdrawal.


  7. Barbee' says:

    Hi Anna, I read all the way to the bottom of the page, but came back up here to leave my comment. Sorry about the arthritic bunny, maybe he needs to retire and let those new ones from The Last Straw take over the dangerous jobs. Food: wow, you make everything look and sound so good! And you make your enviroment so, so pretty. Yep! Martha would be proud of you.
    *** Thank you Barbee and it’s good to see you in my garden today. My husband put arthritic bunny back together this weekend and you just might see a post about him. You can come for dinner anytime. I’ve always got lots.


  8. Sylvia says:

    Anna, I do hope you are feeling better soon. I do very little direct sowing for just the reasons you gave, plus I like to watch my seedlings grow!

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)
    *** You can count me in….. the starting seeds early in pots gang. That was a costly mistake. The seeds all came up beautifully and I’ll purchase again from this company. It wasn’t their fault I planted my seeds with weeds. I wish you could of seen the prarie grasses and clover type mess I had. I weeded those beds more times than I can count to finally get them weed free. My back beds suffered the most as they got put on hold while I made the front of the house look most presentable.

    You know though—I’m looking forward to next year. It wasn’t all that discouraging when it really comes down to it. Maybe because I’ve been gardening for 40 years and every year something goes haywire. It’s just part of a gardeners life. So I’m going to get back out there and do it better next time.


  9. linda says:

    p.s. Sorry to hear you’ve been sick. I hope you’re feeling much better soon.
    *** Thanks and I’m finally able to venture in to the getting dressed stages.


  10. linda says:

    Anna, I may never cease to be amazed at the cluelessness of many landscaping firms and the messes they often leave behind after those big checks get cashed.

    You would die if you saw the landscape plan for our shade garden, drawn up for the previous owners of the house. It’s a perfectly lovely garden for moist shade. Only problem is the garden is cited under two shallow-rooted maples and is decidedly dry, not moist shade. It’s no surprise that everything they planted has long been dead with the exception of a few remaining hostas. They did other dumb things too, like placing shrubs that get 25 feet tall in the foundation plantings, creating a constant maintenance headache.

    I’m sorry about the seed-starting fiasco, and hope things work out much better next year!
    ** OH yes..we do live and learn to throw money in a more productive manner by not repeating past mistakes. I like sowing some seeds as you can’t find those varieties in the nurseries but I’ll do them in starter pots next year.

    Good thing my landscaper wasn’t around when I had to reamend the beds. My neighbor came over who is a gardener and he told me that the landscapers only skimmed the surface of the dirt with their tiller. My neighbor saw the tiller hopping and jumping across the top of the dirt. Cost me a fortune to have them do such a bad job. So never trust the landscaper unless you are there to see the work done. Makes me ill to think about it.


  11. Cindy T. says:

    Anna, I suspect we all could tell tales about seed sowing fiascos. You’re in good company! Hope you’re feeling better and the virus is now just an unpleasant memory.
    *** I’m on the mend today and doing the dreaded housecleaning thing. I’m craving a mater samich and goodness knows…I’ve got lots of maters.


  12. Cinj says:

    I tried to direct sow in my garden too. It didn’t work. I won’t do that again. The poor little seedlings!
    *** It is sad to see them die like that and especially when they are being chocked out by weeds. So sorry I didn’t comment earlier but I’ve had that awful stomach virus…so much fun. I will sew some directly next year but they will be the varieties with very sturdy stems.


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