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Re: Early germination, what to do?

Well, Chris, think it's time for the old temporary cold frame bit for
these guys.  I don't like overwintering woodies inside, myself.  They
wake up way too early, even in a cool to cold room, and then need a
lot of light.

If the seeds were outside, maybe this species normally germinates in
late fall?  Anyway, I'd go get myself some bales of straw, a nice
roll of clear plastic to line the inside and make a cover - you might
need a couple three 2x4s to help support it.  and start making a cold
frame...might need a few wood stakes to keep the bales in place:-)

You can wrap the plastic around the 2x4s and staple it on so it
doesn't blow.  If you nail them as a frame, you can easily move it. 
I have a notched 2x4 that fit under the lid of my cold frame so I
could open the frame a little or a lot...stuck one end of the 2x4 in
the ground.  You will also need numerous bags of sand to create a
plunge for the pots of seedlings.

If you can place this up against the house on the leeward side to
shelter it from winter wind, so much the better.

I can't remember if I mentioned to you that I used to cover my
in-ground cold frame with old rugs and 6 mil black (not clear; it
heats up the frame too much) plastic once weather got too cold to
leave it open...everything, evergreens included, came through just
fine - always amazed me, but they did.  You'd want to leave it open,
at least a crack, until it gets really cold - like the temps are
staying below freezing.  If the sand is moist, it should stay moist
until you uncover it in early spring.  You'd want to do that before
the plants in there would normally wake up and then leave it open a
crack.  IMO, sand works better than mulch for this tho' you can use
mulch.  Sand seems to insulate the pots better and retain moisture
around them.  I plunge pots so that the soil in the pot is level with
or slightly below the surface of the sand.

You could do that with these babies.  I think they'd be better off
outside than in, myself, even tho' your winters are much harsher than
mine.  You'd be creating similar conditions to an unheated hoop house
and Ellen Hornig (Seneca Hill Nursery) keeps all her cyclamen babies
in one of those in upstate NY.  

I find it quite interesting just how much protection from rain and
snow does to help pull potted stuff through winter. I think it
prevents heaving for one thing and keeps excess moisture from around
stems and crowns, which tends to kill a lot of plants that are
otherwise cold hardy.

One year, I just draped plastic over a rough 'A' frame made out of my
tomato cage sides (they were wood frames that came apart for winter)
propped up on a 3' wire garden fence; secured the plastic with rocks
on the ground.  Left the ends open most of the winter.  Everything
did fine; only problem with that was watering, since things dried out
under the clear plastic and I couldn't get in there easily.  None of
these pots were plunged.  Think I may have stuffed some leaves around
them, but that was all they got.  

You could try an open plunge bed, but after I lost a lot of pots in
one the winter we had a really bad ice storm, I gave that up for most
things.  What happened that year is that the mulch froze the pots
into it and the ice filled them up, then we had some warmer days
which melted the ice in the top of the pots, but the soil in the
bottom was frozen so it couldn't drain out.  I couldn't get them out
of the frozen mulch to dump them.  The plants did not like sitting in
icewater and let me know by rotting and departing.  I was not

If the temp. cold frame is just not possible, then you'd best get
some shoplights and a timer and rig up a situation where they get
light for x hours and dark the rest of the time in as cool a spot as
you can find...and I totally agree about the fan.  I'd keep one on
all the time, myself...you have to watch pots drying out, but you can

Marge Talt, zone 7 Maryland
Shadyside Garden Designs

> From: Christopher P. Lindsey <lindsey@mallorn.com>
> > I don't think you have enough time for them this year
> > to ever be hardy enough to be outdoors. You are going
> > to have to get them indoors with a lot of light and
> > let them grow all winter. I would also mock nature a
> > few times down the road and turn a fan on them so they
> > get used to being windblown for a stronger stucture.
> The problem with overwintering them indoors is that some species
> stop their growth for the remaining season once they realize and
> daylight length isn't right.  So then you have to provide
> lighting to rival the real thing all winter long.
> My main concern is getting these guys lignified so that they can 
> tolerate cold to provide some dormancy.
> > Where were you planning on overwintering them next
> > year at? That is listed as a zone 6 tree. (or am I
> > thinking of the wrong one again) 
> I don't know if you'd be familiar with this tree as it's fairly
> in these parts, although I think it makes a great shade or specimen
> It's kind of open, but in a graceful way.  And its fast growth rate
> it a much better choice than some of the other plants that people
> for instant gratification.
> It's definitely hardy here.  These seeds were collected from the
> trial plots at the U of I campus from two trees planted in 1981 and
> Chris
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