Replay of 80: Lisa Ziegler Returns | Flower Farmer and Author of Cool Flowers | Newport News, VA

Cool Flowers Cover by Lisa Ziegler

Cool FlowersLisa Mason Ziegler who wrote the book Cool Flowers: How to Grow and Enjoy Long-Blooming Hardy Annual Flowers Using Cool Weather Techniques is back with us today, she was my guest number 2 back in February when I very first started recording and I was probably so nervous I think I spent the whole time looking at Garage Band saying I hope it’s still going! So over the summer I bought the book and read it and asked Lisa to come back on. I learned a ton and I don’t think I picked up when we were talking is this is maybe the time to do fall planting, and especially one of my listeners asked me about fall plantings. 

Sure great! I’d love to talk about all this good stuff with you! It really depends on where you are, and your winter hardiness, limited planting in the fall up in Zone 3 & 4, but there are still a couple of things, and other options also. I’d love to discuss them all with you!

I think that we’re zone 4 or 5 on the border there. I still think I’m gonna try to plant some things. One thing that inspires me is so much stuff that comes back! Is that a good sign?

Exactly. For things that reseed themselves and those seeds come back the next year in fact, that is an excellent sign. I’ve learned so much about flowers and even vegetables, that really are hardy annuals, meaning they’ll reseed themselves, survive the winter because of the way they’ve performed in my garden, there’s really no documentation to back it up. But you’re exactly right, if they’re coming back on their own in your garden, it’s a go for it! In my book!

So then the other questions I am wondering is when they go to seed, is that when I should try to put fresh seeds in? So the thing I have the most of is calendulas. So if I  is was going to try to actually seed some calendula where I actually want them to grow on purpose, is that when I do it, when they go to seed on there own?

So really taking your cues from mother nature and of when you start seeing these little seedlings pop up in your garden. Now I would be very surprised if calendula would winter over for you, if I don’t select my spot. Im in Zone 7. If I don’t place our calendula in a semi-protected spot and then we have tough winter, which we have had the last 2 years, we’ll lose calendula. Typically here’s what happens when your plant in the fall.  The whole point of fall planting is to plant the seed in time for the little seed to germinate and become a teeny transplant in the ground so it will go through the winter and survive, that will harbor this great root system, that has a head start when spring comes next year! 

So if you were to plant those calendulas when you’ve seen calendual reseed in your garden – do you actually see actually plants, little transplants show their heads in fall or do you see those in spring?

IDK, I haven’t paid attention yet, I’ll have to look this fall.

There are some things that you need to look for. So there are some things that you can plant in fall, that will germinate that will winter through, they really are winter hardy even up to zone 4. Some even, a couple even to zone 3. So that’s the kind of stuff you need to start taking note of. Looking around your garden now, in  Cool Flowers we do show photos that the different plants, there’s 30 hardy annuals, what the baby plant looks like. So you can go out in your garden, root around looking to see if you have any of these guys that you have planted in the past. If in fact you do have some receded, then you’ll have to wait and see are they still there in the spring, did they make it through the winter?

It was tough for me when I was researching this book, I practiced this for over 20 years,  here on our flower farm, but when it came time for me to have back up documentation to put it in a book. I started researching, hardy annuals, well I had to go to books that were published before the 1950s most often, to find books that actually talked about doing what I talking about in this book. I didn’t discover this great way of gardening our grandmothers did it. I just kind of rekindled the idea. There’s not a lot of back up documentation, there’s probably 2-3 times, as many hardy annuals that will do what I talk about in  Cool Flowers so that’s what we’re working on now

that we just don’t have documentation.

We’re trying to find more and more

that will flow this practice

I’m thinking that if any listeners have any documentation or they have been recorded


Sure if you have any experience with something, go to my website and shoot me an email. There’s a lack of information out there! You know the best book, I actually bought at a garage sale The Better Homes and Garden Garden Book published in 1951. And it talks about sewing sweet peas in December and Larkspur! It’s what we’ve been doing here on our farm, it was great to have confirmation, yes in fact what we’re doing has been done before and was widely practice by people! I was not raised in garden home, they had a landscape, but they didn’t garden. Folks that came from Moms and Grandmas and Grandpas that had them out in the garden as little kids, saw a lot of this. Those people have been doing this. Those of us that are just coming on to gardening, perhaps maybe have missed out could be perhaps what I consider the greatest part of gardening is the spring bloomers! They’re just wonderful and beautiful.

Tell us some more about your place then:

Sure, what I am I’m on the coast of Virginia, not on the coast, we live on a peninsula, I’m in Newport News, VA. It’s a great region, we have 4 seasons here, our winters aren’t anything like yours up in Montana! We do fall down to single digits in the winter time, we do get a little bit of snow not much. That’s what makes growing hardy annuals sometimes for us growing hardy annuals a little difficult. Snow is actually a layer of insulation, so if you plant stuff out in your garden that’s hardy and you get snow, and keep snow  they’re kind of insulated.

I have 9 degrees blowing wind with no protection! So our winters are tough here but we also have very hot and humid summers! Many of the flowers that are in Cool Flowers, a lot  of those of us that live in the bottom half of the country, where we do have these heat events in the summer, think we can’t even grow these flowers. Those are the folks that are living in Zones 6,7, & 8 that really benefit from the fall planting, because we can’t grow these flowers typically in our region without fall planting. I want to say here, just in case I get away from it, the really big benefit to folks who are up where you are zone 4,5 and even the  colder reasons of zone 6, while there are some things you can plant in the fall, the real bonus all of the plants in Cool Flowers, all the Hardy annuals can be planted in very early spring, that is about 6-8 weeks before your last frost date. When is your last frost date?

Ours is like June first I think.

So you have to wait a really long time, to start planting summer annuals. You have to wait along time to plant those zinnias.

Flowers that are in Cool Flowers can actually be planted before that June first date!

While people are standing, I often use the example, all your friends are standing at the door, clutching their zinnia packets which can’t be planted until it warms up. You’re out enjoying planting hardy annuals! These are the flowers you can be planting in April and May, while it’s still cold! There might even be snow on the ground, so everyone can be planting then! These really give you something to go! We plant here where I am, fall and spring.

My farm is located in the middle of the city, I’m the last farmer in our city. I have 200,000, I call them watchers … residents! That’s how big our city is, it’s me and the rest of them. That creates some challenges, but it also gives me a lot of benefits. I’ve been farming since 1998, so we have worked out all those types of kinks! We sell our flowers. My farm is only 3 acres. My garden is only 1 1/2 acre and we produce about 10 – 15,000 stems a week during our high season, which is about 5 months out of the year. You can grow a lot in a very small space! We’re totally organic, not certified but we follow organic practices.

We sell all of our flowers to florists. I don’t know if you are familiar with Colonial Williamsburg, which is a huge historical tourists spot here.  We sell to a couple of supermarkets. It keeps us really, really busy. Out of season I write books, and travel, and lecture. My sister and I do a lot of garden, master gardener events, garden club events. We also have an


online garden store! That keeps us busy year-round! They can visit our website. There’s lots of how-to videos, blogs, our  store where you can buy seeds, and cool flowers! We have our fingers in a lot of pie, but that’s what keeps it fun for us!

I was thinking I don’t know how you do everything that you do! You’re just so busy!

I have to tell you about that picture. That was the cover of our catalog for 2015! Every year we think we gotta get a great catalog picture! We’re always trying and trying. That particular day it was like 100 degrees and Suzanne was sitting on the tractor and the other person is Bobo who has worked with us for years and years and he’s a long time friend! We were getting ready to bring that trailer of flowers into the building and I said “Look how beautiful that trailer is! Quick! Lets’ take a photo!” My sister, we set up the tripod! took the picture! And I dive onto the ground, and Suzanne hits the button and runs and jumps on the tractor and there you go and that’s kinda fun!

It looks great!! That’s on the cover to your seed catalog? People can buy tools there?

We don’t sell a huge variety of tools and supplies. We strictly sell the tools and supplies that we use. We do not save seeds, but when I buy seeds from the seed house and hybridizers, we buy extra and package them, and are able to put our own instructions on the seed packets. We find, and it’s getting much better, but often times seed packets are a little vague in their instructions on how to actually get the seeds to germinate, so we try to provide that information. So we package seeds, the same ones that we plant on our farm, primarily cut flower seeds, my books, and dvds, and all that type of stuff, and a lot of supplies you don’t find out on the open market. Stuff that flower farmers use that make gardening just easier! We mail our catalog once a year, it usually goes out in late January/early February. If any of your listeners want to get our catalog and get on our mailing list, they can just go to The Gardener’s and sign up.  Our email address is in the top right hand corner, just put in the subject line: catalog list, so you can get added to our catalog list, and add your name and address and I’d be more then happy to mail them our catalog.

We already have the cover 2016! It’s a good one! It’s really good!

So that was the cover for last year, so the cover for next year is a surprise!

I find me personally, that if you go to shop for something, and you have 15 choices and they all do the same kind of job, you don’t know which one you want to buy. So we have held true to our commitment to really just sell, the things that we use. Like we sell one type of stand up hoe, and one hand hoe, because those are the two tools. The way that we start seeds those are what we use. Our most popular tools and those are what we use here on our farm. People really appreciate that. We feel like it helps them out immensely!

That’s what I was going to say is that when I was reading the Cool Flowers this morning, and reviewing the notes from when I read it this summer, and my husband’s been bugging me to get him the floating row cover for years, and when I went on a Farm Tour down at the Lower Valley Farm in Kalispell I actually saw some but your book actually tells what weight that you use and explained it! I appreciated that part. The other think I was reading back here, I liked was the part about the Christmas presents, I’m one of those people who in September, if you want to make presents for people I’m sure if there are other crafters out there, I’m sure they’re thinking, quilters, other crafters, etc, the part about reseeding, is to share seed-heads and you talked about writing the instructions on writing the instructions on a brown paper bag and tying a ribbon around it!

So many of us in this gardening world, we have groups that we’re a part of. How fun would that be to be able to give every person in your gardening club or master gardener group?

A brown paper bag, with maybe you put a picture on the ribbon, so they know what they’re getting, and to have something that they can go home and sow, or save it for spring. Some of the best flowers that I grow were given to me that way a hundred years ago!

Plus if they’re local, it’s more likely to grow! I’m of course I’m already thinking I’m gonna put them in the mail too, for friends and relatives.

I feel we become so, so let’s just say I live in the south, I mean, Virginia is the south, those of us, particularly people who are south of me, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, there are things people have told us forever that we can’t grow those things, because of where we live. It’s not that we can’t grow them. It’s that we have always planted them at the improper time. At the wrong time. 

It’s all about timing!

There are very few things, it’s a little different in the deep south, like the tip of florida, where they just get no cool weather what so ever. But the rest of us you just have to figure out the proper time to plant, for you. It’s obviously not the same for me as it is for you. because we are

it’s very different because our seasons are different.

Once you wrap your head around that, it’s like OK, if I want to grow, I’ll tell you the classic people tell me, we can’t grow are sweet peas! Sweet Peas are that one flower that is so fragrant it stirs up memories in people from their childhood. Stirs up memories because their Grandmother’s grew them! I just wrote an article this morning. It just moves people, when they see and smell sweet peas it reminds them about their grandparents.

Floret Farms

Here’s an article from Floret Farms a unique flower company in Washington State about someone following Lisa’s advice on growing Sweet Peas.

Everywhere I go and lecture, and they say how did you grow those sweet peas here? You can’t grow sweet peas if you plant them in the spring, but when we plant them in the fall, we grow sweet peas like weeds now! You can barely control them, not the invasive perennial people are familiar with, I’m talking about the beautiful fragrant sweet peas that we want to grow! The only difference between what I was doing and all these people who are experienced gardeners is the timing of when we planted them!Timing is what it’s all about. It’s gonna open an the door for people to rethink things.

It will change your gardening life!

I can hear peoples minds spinning already! I talked to another guest Bob Quinn on episode 77 who is also very forward thinking and a visionary growing wheat. There’s solutions out there.

You just have to figure it out. I think the number one reason this group of flowers, a hardy annual is a pansy. That’s the most recognized flower that people know. They’re just very very common. A pansy is a hardy annual. This group of flowers, includes snapdragons, sweet peas, Belles of Ireland, Queen Annes Lace, calendulas, all these wonderful flowers, because they’re planting time does not fall into the busy retail cycle, they kind of fell off the map. You shouldn’t be buying them when we’re all storming the stores. I’m sure that the month of May is the hart of garden season heaven.  That’s too late for the hardy annuals, and so the retailers don’t offer this group. That’s why they have really fallen off the map. It is perhaps the most beautiful group of flowers! There are also vegetables that fall under the same practice. So we miss them, we miss out on them because we don’t plant them at the proper time.

Do you want to share any vegetables? Your husband does most of the vegetables at your house right?

All the cool season stuff, we winter over here, of course I don’t have the documentation in front of me, what vegetables winter over for what zone. Often times all those vegetables that you know enjoy cool weather. Lettuces, kales, radishes, onions, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, all of those are also cool lovers!

Here for us in zone 7 we plant those in the fall, if we don’t get them all harvested, we keep them covered. We use low tunnels to cover with that same light weight row cover and they winter over and rejuvenate in spring and we harvest them again.


In very early spring you need to experiment with them. I’m glad to hear that you saw some row cover! I again with you that most often the practical application information is missing most often, with a lot of these supplies that you hear about but you don’t know how to make it work in your place. We try to offer that. Row cover, I can’t believe you don’t have row covers, I almost want to send you some.

I told my husband this morning, we have amazon prime this month, I’m gonna order it, and he said where are we gonna store it, and we figured out a place.

It’s amazing! It will change your gardening life! It is reusable if you take care of it. Don’t leave it piled up out in the garden because UV rays can break it down. It’s certainly not as heavy duty as it used to be. I used to get it to last 10 years, but people underestimate the power of a row cover.

We use AG19 is a 4 degree protection! What’s even more important is the wind protection it provides.

Wait can you back up just a second what do you mean 4˚ protection?

So if it’s gonna be 32˚ tonight and you put a row cover on it, it means your plants are only gonna be feeling 36˚. So this is what I do, because there are some plants, some hardy annuals that aren’t supposed to winter over that aren’t supposed to winter over here for me, but I plant them in the fall anyway. So I have to give them added protection. The way that I do that is so in addition to covering them once, I double it, 2 layers makes it 2xs as protective so that makes it twice as protective. That way I don’t have to buy a bunch of different weight row covers! The one that we use AG19 which is the 4˚ 85% of air water and light pass through that cloth. So you can leave it on during the day. We hoop it, just use some simple wire or some flexible 1/2 inch pvc, throw row cover over it,use some rocks to hold it down to weight it down and you have this mini green house going for the most inexpensive way you can do it! It’s amazing what it will do for your garden! Virtually all the cost is the cost of the row cove and it’s all you have to invest! IT’s amazing what it will do for your garden!

I’ve learned a ton since I started this podcast. I know my husband knows a lot but for me I’ve learned a ton.

It’s all about learning, a row cover is just one of those tools that you can use to extend your garden season both early and later into the fall. We use those low tunnels all winter long. Just leave them up. It lets plants exist without having to face brutal elements of winter, so you get blooms earlier or fruit earlier. I would definitely try to winter over some lettuce up there where you are and kale, with row cover and hoops, I bet you could eat it all winter long. Do you get a ton of snow up there?

You never know. I think we have as many brown Christmases as white Christmases I think, maybe a few more, but other years we have a ton of snow. Our season, I was thinking about when you were talking is that what I’ve learned is if we can get a huge dump of snow in late October or early November before the ground freezes hard. If the ground freezes hard before we get that first dump of snow our spring is just so much harsher, the roads are frozen and it takes forever to thaw and it’s way icier and longer before you can get in the ground. So to me the big difference is if we can get that big dump of snow late Oct early Nov before the ground freezes, then is soaks into the ground in the spring so nicely instead of running off. This year’s been so crazy because it practically thawed in February and had dirt in March. It’s been unprecedented. We’re having one of the worst wildfire seasons ever, and you can barely breathe. It’s a miracle that we have rain today. there’s a whole camp of over 200 firefighters, its like a little city of amazing people working so hard to save our forests and homes etc. Kavita Bay who was a guest back on episode 14  had to evacuate and move her horses and bees and everything. And some other people where I taught had to evacuate on the other side of the mountains. You could tell back in February, it just started out dry, we never got any rain. In June we never had rain, we had100 degrees and it’s just been unheard of. We’re hoping for an early fall!

The other key thing fro folks who want to try that very early spring planting, which is really outlined in Cool Flowers is

You’re not gonna be able to get out there and dig in very early spring, usually the ground is wet, still cold, it’s not very easy to work soil, it’s in that condition. What we do, is right now we go out and were preparing beds that we cover with mulch for the winter, that  we’ll be able to go out there next year 6-8 weeks before that last frost date. This year was a great example, we prepared our beds for spring planting, a year ago for us, last fall for us to have snow in March is unusual. We had like 12 inches of snow at the first of March. So all of our beds were out there ready in May, so as soon as the snow started melting a little bit we were able to push the snow off the beds and plant our transplants right into the snow and then it would melt to water them! We had some of the best crops of hardy annuals that were planted under those circumstances. However if we haven’t prepared the fall before that, like now, for next spring, we would never be able to do that. 

I know it’s dry, so it’s tough to do, we’re fighting that same problem here. It’s hard to get out there and dig when it’s a dustbowl and prepare, but the reward next early spring is you get to pull back, push the snow aside or pull your mulch back if there is not any snow load, and plant these plants that thrive in cool weather, cold soil circumstances!


Do you plant sunflowers?

Sunflowers are tender annuals, just like tomatoes, cucumbers, hardy annuals survive cold, tender annuals have to have it warm. Which sunflowers are.

We plants 1000 a sunflowers a week for 26 weeks here! They’re a big crop for us as cut flowers.  So yes we plant them on a regular basis here. 

Do you let those go to seed and collect those seeds?

That’s just is a whole other industry. Collecting seeds is just a whole other industry.

We do grow a lot of hybrids, like I was gonna sa the sunflower that we go is called pro-cuts. The reason we plant pro-cuts is it’s from seed to bloom is only 55 to 60 days which is really quick. It’s a pollen-less variety which means it lasts a lot longer in a vase, however it does still produce nectar, so it still feeds our tons of bees here.

Do you have some tips for cutting flowers because I noticed my sunflowers didn’t last like 3 days. Maybe I cut them too late?

A lot of things can attribute to that, one might be the variety you’re growing. Unless your buying pollen-less seeds, like we do and sell, they typically don’t have a very long vase life.

So variety selection is important if you are trying to cut flowers and use them as cut flowers and also we cut them just as they start to open! So the quality of bloom is better and it doesn’t get wind blown and dry out so the petals fall off prematurely. So variety selection and the stage that you cut them in make a huge difference.

Cut Flower Tips

  • Variety
  • Cutting stage

A pollen-less sunflower will typically last  couple of weeks in a vase, easily. So we just love pro-cuts. There’s a lot of great cut flower sunflowers out there, but we have so far for several years, grown them, they’re quick, stiff necks, they’re beautiful quick, they last long in the vase.

We have a Facebook Page Gardener’s Workshop Flower Farm

My sister named me a Champion Facebook poster. Because I do post a lot of pictures.  Of course I have a smart phone in my pocket. I’m constantly taking photographs. We’re strong pollinator people here, we have tons of native bees, plus we have19 hives next door who are always in garden! So I’m always posting back a couple of weeks, I

posted one of our pollen-less sunflowers and you never saw so many bees on one sunflower.

loaded with bumble bees and

we let some go to seed for finches

Can I ask you a question about taking pictures on your phone. My biggest problem is running out of storage, now granted 90% of my storage probably goes to podcasting? But pictures too? What do you do, do you download them every night? 

That used to be a problem for me, now you’re looking at someone that has a phone with a 128 gig sd card in it! I have a Samsung, a droid phone. I too had that storage problem, at first I bought I think most come with a 8 gig card and you can fill that up in the blink of an eye! If you take pictures like I do and videos. ‘m constantly taking little short videos. In addition to our Gardener’s Workshop Farm FB page, we also have our Farm Dog Babs FB page. Which is our famous golden retriever who has such a following of people she had to have her own page because she was clogging up our farm page with her pictures. She’s in Cool Flowers like page 6 or something in there. I’m constantly taking pictures and little short videos of her. Since I put that 128 GB card that now allows me to take gobs of photos. You have to keep young people around in your operation so they can tell you how to do this stuff, so now I know how to put my sd card into my desktop to empty it, and start over again. Yes, that is really a big problem, you just have to get your storage issue, you want it to save to sd card not to your phone and that way you can take it out, put it in your desktop and download it, clean it off, and put it back in your phone. I only have to do it about once a month cause I have so much storage.

Nice, that was worth it! I’ll bet listeners like that tip too. 

And I am not a computer persons it’s cause I just keep young people around, they just tell me what I have to do. Great photo ops when you have that phone in your pocket all the time!

I’ve been recently posting beneficial insect videos

Ohh cool!

I got assasin bugs. These guys could have a movie! They’re so weird looking and so anyway it’s great to be able to do that. We love taking photos here.

Awww I almost welled up thinking you are such a great educator. And you are so on it! If I hear one more person say podcaster say Native Facebook Video, post native Facebook video out there! And of course you’re doing it! Posting beneficial insect pictures because people don’t know and what a great way to teach everybody! Everybody go to Lisa’s Facebook pages! 

So I just post it and say what is this? And we have all these great master gardeners chime right in and tell you the latin name and what they do and how they do it! And it benefits everybody! And you’re right people don’t understand there is a reason there are movies made about bugs!  It is a fascinating world out there and what is going on! I won’t bore you with the projects I’m working on now, but there are stories and books to be written about the creatures in the garden and how they relate to one another! It’s just fascinating to me! I wish I’d been an entomologist, but I’d love to be a bugologist! I wish I could go back 20 years. I enjoy insects and creatures and wildlife! We’re really challenged here, as I said I’m in the middle of the city, there’s nowhere for them to go! So we take great pride and joy in providing a place for a lot of these guys, birds right on down to micro-organisms to live.

I’ve been hearing from a lot of urban gardeners, so I think they will like this a lot. I was going to tell you a lot of my listeners is California. I think the majority are in Montana, and the second state is California and then they are all over.

We ship to a lot of customers in California!

It is a big state with a lot of people.

We were in the newspaper that went on the associated press that went out there. California is very similar to us in Virginia and what our weather is. and certain areas of it so Cool Flowers really opens the doors for folks, the most common

I do a lot of speaking to flower growers I get these replies from growers saying I am rethinking everything now!

That’s the biggest thing

It’s not that you can grow

I love every flower I’m with, I’m very fickle! Snapdragons! Snapdragons are the mot underestimated hardy annual. They would probably grow for you.

I’m not surprised because they come up all over.

to learn that you just have to stop thinking like a retail cycle! Stop thinking when you see the flowers for sale

Once you wrap your noggin around that. I’m telling you there’s nothing we can’t grow! Of ourse you can grow them up north!

In the south they tell us we can’t grow delphiniums, but in the south we can grow amazing delphinium, which is a perennial for you, but when we treat it as a hardy annual we can grow them. We know that August is going to choke it to death and kill it! So we plant it in the fall, it winters over. It blooms like crazy in June and July. Then we know we’re gonna just pull it out, not let it die a slow death in August, just pull it out and move on and plant it again in Sept or October. Just have to think outside your box! It just changes the world of gardening!

You’re winter for those folks in California, they’re like us. We spend all winter at the window watching everything freeze and be cold and maybe have snow on it, just wondering if those plants are gonna fall are gonna survive. Wondering and Waiting! The anticipation that ramps up in your body because of that just makes spring even more explosive! It’s just amazing really!

I haven’t done that.

You should try some snaps. You have to have plants to plant 6-8 weeks before your frost date, so it’s too late I think for you, unless you can go out and buy some plants, but I doubt highly you can do that. Think of that for next fall, think of a spot, and the quality and benefit of doing that is they bloom earlier, bloom longer, and the quality of the plants, of the stems, they’re taller, less maintenance need because they’re well established!

I’m too late already?!

Well you’re first frost is right around the corner right?!

Yeah! It could be!

If you planted seeds inside in 4-6 weeks when they’re ready to plant you’d probably be in deep cold right?

Yeah. Yeah.

So just think about if you had started 6 weeks ago, though the suffering of this hot and dry summer. You know seeds are started indoors, it gives you a great activity to do. Who wants to go outside in the middle of August? Nobody because it’s a 100 degrees! Starting seeds indoors to start to plant once Sept and Oct come for us! But for you you need to back it up a bit more.

Why do have to start them indoors in the summer?

There’s a whole chapter on seed starting in Cool Flowers and the basic concept of seed starting is there are 3 groups of seeds in my opinion:

Seed Starting

  • Seeds to start indoors
  • Seeds to start outdoors
  • Seeds that you can start either way

There are those seeds that you really have to start inside that just don’t do well when you start outdoors. It’s a small group and snapdragons are in that group. The 2nd group are those seeds that prefer to be started outdoors and the 3rd group can go either way.

We always start seeds indoors for the first group and the third group. It’s easier to get a better stand of plants when you walk out to the garden and put starts in the ground versus putting seeds in the ground.

We always start seeds indoors. On our website there’s a how-to area, and there’s a video clip of how to start seeds called soil blocking?

It’s made for home gardeners. It’s so much easier, you’ll be more successful, its’ the way I’ve started seeds for 20 years. It will revolutionize seed starting life! If you’re using peat pots or flats and not having good luck, you’re a member of the majority of people. Those are not conducive vehicles to do great seed starting in. Soil blocks don’t have any container, you just have a little tool that makes them. You’ll be a success! It’s what happened to me 20 years ago. It’s Amazing! It’s the number one thing I teach on is seed starting now. So many people want to do it and have failed, in clouding commercial growers. Just learning a few facts really clears that up and lets you be successful!

So by going out to garden planting pants you have more success then planing seeds overall. In the commercial world we always choose transplants because of that. So there is an easy way to start seeds. 

Ill have to reread that chapter. I hope everyone buys your book Cool Flowers it’s really worth every penny!

It’s focused on hardy annuals but we also reocomned how to start your garden organically, getting your soil ready, starting seeds, how to set it up for low maintenance and all of those chapters can be applied to every kind of flower or vegetable or herb that you are growing. So it is more universal in that area. Another really big part that a lot of people miss, I’m getting ready to go do a lectures in Pennsylvania and North Carolina that’s based on Cool Flowers, but it’s contribution that Cool Flowers makes in restoring pollinators. Because when are pollinators most desperate? In early spring when there are very little flowers for them to live off of. So that’s what Cool Flowers addresses.

So practicing Cool Flowers in your garden will bring pollinators and beneficial insects into your garden earlier in the season. And will create an environment where they will want to stay and have babies and raise their families in your garden. If you’re vegetable gardener and you don’t designate 20% of your space to your flowers you’re gonna wonder why you don’t have pollinators in your garden? Why would pollinators come to your garden if you’re not growing what they need to live and raise a family in?

I’m doing Mother Earth News up in Pennsylvania in a couple of weeks and Monticello in a week. And that’s what we are talking about. How to get good bugs in early and Cool Flowers is the red carpet you can roll out for them. That’s one of the big ones a lot of people miss. No chemicals, no pesticides and give them flowers and you will be overrun with bumble bees, native bees, moths, wasps, and all these good guys that we want in our gardens.

I have to say we’ve had so many more bees, even though we got honey bees, I’m seeing way more bumble bees and other bees, Mike’s always saying that’s not one of my bees! We do see his bees, but you can see there’s tons of different bees with all the extra flowers we’ve planted this year!

Well good!


It’s a pleasure and an honor to talk with you. We can talk another time about organic gardening, cut flowers or summer gardening! I’d love to talk to you some more!

How do we connect with you?

Cool Flowers

Cool Flowers: How to Grow and Enjoy Long-Blooming Hardy Annual Flowers Using Cool Weather Techniques


The Easy Cut-Flower Garden

OGP is dedicated to encouraging gardeners and people who want to grow food and flowers to choose an organic approach

organic gardening, gardening, growing your own food, growing food, organic vegetables, organic fruit, organic flowers, flower gardening, vegetable gardening, herb gardening, organic herbs, organic houseplants, worm vericomposting, permaculture, fruit tree pruning, organic succulents and bromeliads, organic CSA, organic seeds, heirloom seeds, open pollinated seeds, organic hemp, organic wine, organic viticulture, organic viniculture, organic gourmet cooking

The Organic Gardener Podcast is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to


If you like what you heard on the Organic Gardener Podcast we’d love it if you’d give us review and hopefully a 5 star rating on iTunes so other gardeners can find us and listen to. Just click on the link here:

If you have any comments, questions, guests you’d like to see, or topics you’d like us to cover please send us any feedback positive or negative. We’re here to serve our audience and we can only improve with your help!!! Thanks for visiting Mike’s Green Garden changing the world one garden at a time.


About the author, Jackie Marie

I'm an artist and educator. I live at the "Organic Oasis" with my husband Mike where we practice earth friendly techniques in our garden nestled in the mountains of Montana.

Leave a Comment