Poppies probably planted too deep to pop up properly - Albuquerque Journal

Poppies probably planted too deep to pop up properly

Q: I have never had success planting poppies from seed. I get the spaces turned, scratch rows in the soil, spread the seed, then cover it. I do keep the spots wet, but haven’t gotten many, if any, to grow. What might I be doing wrong? – O.L., Albuquerque

A: I’m thinking that you are, perhaps, planting the tiny poppy seed too deeply.

Think about it. Poppies are typically a wind-sown type of seed. The mother plant grows to fruition and then as the flowers are buffeted by the wind, they let go of the seed. It’s carried off and settles into nooks and crannies on the ground. Some dust, dirt or sand then blows over that cranny and barely covers the seed, holding it in place.

I’m going to suggest that when you are planting tiny seeds like poppies you do go ahead and rough up the soil. Keep in mind that poppies like to grow in soil that drains, so if you have a plot that holds a good amount of water, work some compost and sand into that space to help guarantee drainage.

In a bowl place several good-sized handfuls of clean sand and barely dampen it. Give it a good stir to assure a complete dampening of the sand and pour the poppy seed in that. Again give the contents a good stir to mix thoroughly. Then sprinkle that mixture over the area where you want to grow the poppies. Once the seed/sand mixture is spread, you’ll want to tamp it down. Walk lightly over the space so that mixture gets squashed or tamped down into place.

If the space is a big one, get a flat piece of cardboard and set it over the space then walk on it like you’re ironing the space. Your goal is to press the seed into the soil, not bury it. Once the seed/sand is “ironed” into place, spray the area with a very gentle watering. Think mist.

I believe that you’ve just gotten the tiny seeds planted too deep. So give it yet another whirl, aiming to keep the seed planted very, very shallowly.

Q: I am so ready to put my tropical hibiscus back out onto the patio. They have grown well indoors for me but I want them back outside. What do you think, is it time? – N.S., Albuquerque

A: Like you I am so ready to get my treasures back outdoors. I’m just not convinced the temperatures are being as cooperative as the hibiscus desires.

Granted, the average last frost date here in the Metro, which is April 17, has passed, but Mother Nature is being fickle.

I’m going to hedge my bets and wait a bit longer before subjecting my treasures to the chilly outdoor temperatures. If you can offer protection by tenting or covering the plants if the temperatures plummet, then go for it. I’m going to wait a smidgen longer and continue to be a weather watcher.

Dear readers: The city of Albuquerque has announced the dates for its annual spring green waste collection.

Starting on Monday, May 1, and running through Friday, May 12, you are able to place your collected green waste curbside on your normal trash collection day and it’ll be whisked away to become mulch for ongoing projects where the chipped up green waste can be used. Follow the rules of this service, please.

When placing the green waste – grass clippings, leaves and general plant debris – place them in large garbage bags weighing no more than 40 pounds each. You can put bundles of branches and long twigs out too. Be sure to bundle them and that the tied-up bundles weigh no more than 40 pounds, and are cut into manageable lengths of no more than 4 feet long.

Remember that this service is for green waste only. Don’t place large tree stumps or landscape rocks and expect them to be removed. If it can’t be chipped up, don’t add it to your collections. No rocks, gravel, old automobile parts, used oil, broken patio furniture, construction debris, roofing materials, torn down fencing, paint cans or chemicals in any form.

By offering the green waste you’ve tidied up, two things happen. First, the green stuff won’t become a home for insects and vermin to settle in as the season progresses. Second, it won’t blow around the neighborhood.

By offering this service the city is aiming to keep our spaces healthier and looking better in the long run, so get ready and become a green- recycler.

Happy Diggin’ In!

Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send garden-related questions to Digging In, Albuquerque Journal, 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109, or to features@abqjournal.com.


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