This week I find myself thinking about the surprising success of my native plant germination project and the first Toy Story movie. This might seem a bit random at first but bear with me for a minute. Buzz Lightyear's famous proclamation in that film of "To infinity and beyond" is very applicable to my seedling experiment, namely due to the exponential explosion of seedlings that have emerged from my tiny growing area. The possibilities for what one person can do with a grow light and a few seeds is quite literally infinite.
First, the parameters. My entire experiment started with one 3'x3' card table, 3 grow lights, 3 heat mats and one timer connected to an outlet strip. To maximize the chances for successful germination and ultimately plant numbers, under each light were placed a plastic tray which contained either 36 or 200 soil blocks depending on the soil depth required by the seed. (See my blog from 4/12 to learn more about soil blockers.) As the seedlings germinated and grew, they were potted up into larger soil blocks or small plant containers. More and more trays were added to accommodate the larger plants. As the weeks progressed, they took over our sunroom!
All of this, brings me to another quote from Toy Story, this time from one of the aliens who has been chosen by the claw. As he is being lifted up from the crowd, the alien states in an awestruck voice, "Nirvana is coming, The mystic portal awaits". This is exactly how I feel right now. My 3 little trays of native wildflower seed have generated over 300 plants including: swamp milkweed, common milkweed, butterfly weed, lance-leaved coreopsis, echinacea, wild bergamot, native fennel, anise hyssop, catnip, meadow arnica, boneset, calico aster and mountain mint. This abundance is allowing me to plant some in our yard, share with multiple friends and start at pollinator friendly garden at my local meditation center. This certainly feels like Nirvana! Additionally, this little experiment of mine has opened a portal into future native plant seed saving. propagation and ultimately more native wildflower gardens"To infinity and beyond".