We live in a changing world and wouldn’t it be nice to slow it down a bit? I was discussing with someone the other day my old “dumb” (flip) phone. I loved my flip phone because it could fit in my bike shorts pocket when I rode on the river. I never needed a special bag to put on my bike to carry my smartphone. Darn, I miss that old, dumb phone.
I thought the other day; I would still have that “old” flip phone if I did not need to keep in contact with my daughter that lives in Sweden. She reaches me on my Skype app which means I need my smartphone. A few years ago, I made the change. Because I needed to.
Technology changes so rapidly in our world today. You can hold out for a bit, but eventually, you have to give in if your old “things” are not up to the job. However, in the world of plants things can stay the same for years and years and it is the old-fashioned plants that bring the best to us and nature. My historic pansies mix are the ones that bring a smile to my face every time I pass them in the garden. They lift my spirits when I see their faces mingling through my garden beds.
I know there are new fancy pansies with amazing colors, waves and even vining ones which I have tried in our Urban Potager. They just don’t have that pure beauty that captures my attention. Sometimes old is better, and no matter how much you try to make it better it just is not going to happen. Somethings are just best left alone, don’t you think?
I have been growing old-fashioned pansies for about 7 yrs. I start them inside during the early part of January. I was low on seed this year since I never did get a chance to save some seed from my Urban Potager last year. I went online to my usual source to get a mix, and the company no longer carried this flower. I found some old seed I had stored in my freezer downstairs for situations like this, so I grabbed them and started them right after New Years Day. I went online the other day and found only one source for this delightful old-fashioned pansy mix of those that seedsman Kees Sahin put together to resemble those grown 150 years ago.
I practice Bio-intensive/French intensive which means I garden rather close in our garden beds and some things just disappear between seasonal plantings. I usually place my old-fashioned pansies in the garden early spring with other cold season vegetable crops. I love putting flowers in my spring salads. It has become a tradition around our Urban Potager to share spring salads with family, friends, and neighbors when we have them over for dinner.
Since our new construction or tear down of our front garden beds, I have been thinking about putting a herb garden in my area outside the front door. I figure that is a sheltered area which often times, they claim, pansies will return. I will give it a go this year since I am worried that I won’t be able to get these little beauties next year.
I did find them at Seed Savers Exchange which is located up in Deborah, Iowa about 4 hours away from where we live. I figure I better save some seed this late summer, just in case someone else forgets to save the seed. They have the most unusual colors and old-fashioned faces on their petals. They make me smile.
I have often written about historic panises over the years, but this year I am going to teach you how to start them yourselves. This is the approach I have found works for me, but I do not claim to be an expert on growing pansy from seed.I start mine in the dark. Yep, it is the only approach I have used over the years to get excellent germination results. I seed them in sterile, organic coir. I cover them with a blanket or light cloth to keep them in the dark, using a sprayer to moisten the soil as they germinate. Once about a quarter to half is spouting, I place them under the growing lights.I wait for them to develop their first set of true leaves. Not all of the seeds germinate at once, but I find the goal is just to get a good number of them germinating. I then place the tray back under the lights. Once the tray is filled with many small seedlings, I scoop them out of the tray gently and place them in a 50 count cell tray with seed starting mix. I have found this the best way to start pansies and it saves a lot of money when you grow your own from seed.
They tolerate frigid temps compared to other flowers. This makes them ideal for spring color in your planters and garden beds when there is not much color in the Urban Potager. I suggest we all start saving seed from this old-fashioned panises that Kees Sahin saved years ago. The great seedsman passed away in 2006, and the company he started was sold. If you live in Europe, the only company I found that sells his old seed was at Chiltern Seeds which they called historic florist pansy mix. You can find it (here) if you are unable to get it from a USA company. I hope you give these panises a try in your garden this year and if you do, don’t forget to sprinkle some on your salads. They make the most beautiful salad you will ever eat!