Archive for Sunday, July 30, 2000

Farm club

Former KU baseball coach succeeds with seeds

July 30, 2000

Advertisement

For years, Floyd Temple was a successful baseball coach at Kansas University. Starting in 1953 he managed many winning teams. Since his retirement from KU eight years ago, he has created a champion garden in the place he and his wife have called home for decades.

Floyd Temple, former Kansas University baseball coach, trims some
hibiscus in his back yard. Temple took up gardening during his
retirement and is especially proud of the results his seed-starting
efforts.

Floyd Temple, former Kansas University baseball coach, trims some hibiscus in his back yard. Temple took up gardening during his retirement and is especially proud of the results his seed-starting efforts.

The garden has a few mature perennials and trees. Yet, the true beauty comes from the colorful annuals -- all of which Temple starts from seeds.

"After I retired, I was looking for something to do," he said.

Temple found gardening to be a pleasurable way to fill in the gap between golf games with his buddies, a way to nurture the creative side in him as well. The bonus is a beautiful garden filled with bushy impatiens, vibrant zinnias, 6-foot-tall cleomes, healthy petunias and bright marigolds.

"At one time we had mostly perennials," he said. "They're fine. But if you want color, plant annuals."

Although annuals take more attention than perennials, Temple has allocated his time wisely. Every winter, he studies the Park Seed Company mail order catalog in preparation for the garden he will plant the following spring.

"I've been using them for eight years now," he said.

Temple has been satisfied with the quality of the seeds he has received and pleased with the instructions that accompany the seed packets. The instructions have been helpful, especially when he first began growing annuals from seed.

The bonus is a beautiful garden filled with busy impatiens, vibrant zinnias, 6-foot-tall cleomes, healthy petunias and bright marigolds.

Garden in winter

He begins his seed-growing project in late winter. He consults the notebooks he keeps, which have documented the performances of his seeds from previous years. They also guide him to know when to start the seed growing process.

"Petunias and impatiens take the longest to germinate," Temple noted.

Those seeds are started around Feb. 20. Other seeds, such as zinnias and marigolds, are planted around the last of March. Planting them too early causes them to become too straggly before they can be moved outside.

Flat trays holding 15 to 20 cells are sterilized with a bleach mixture, using 1 cup of bleach to 5 cups of water. After the trays soak for a few minutes, Temple rinses them off and they are ready to receive the growth medium and seeds. After the seeds germinate and develop three or four true leaves, they are transplanted into larger cells.

Zinnias and marigolds can be sown directly into six-pack or nine-pack plastic containers, where they grow until they are ready to be transplanted into the ground.

One of Temple's experiments is to sterilize the soil around his
tomatoes. He's created a bed in which he rotates tomato crops. A
portion of the bed lays fallow and is covered by a sheet of
plastic, then soda pop containers and another layer of plastic. The
layering creates a solar-oven effect that sterilizes the soil for
next year's tomatoes.

One of Temple's experiments is to sterilize the soil around his tomatoes. He's created a bed in which he rotates tomato crops. A portion of the bed lays fallow and is covered by a sheet of plastic, then soda pop containers and another layer of plastic. The layering creates a solar-oven effect that sterilizes the soil for next year's tomatoes.

The seed-filled trays are placed under 4-foot-long fluorescent lights. Typically, the young plants receive 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. The germination process and the task of manipulating the lights takes a certain amount of learning.

"Once you get the idea of how to do and when to do it, once you go through it, it's nice," he admitted.

Shedding light

Temple said that some plants are more difficult to germinate than others. For example, of the 100 cleome seeds planted, he had a yield of only six plants. Yet, in the garden he has volunteer cleomes.

"I'm thinking about planting the seeds directly into the garden," he said.

Even though the process might sound complicated, at least the seed growing room needn't be elaborate. Temple uses a small basement room that shares space with his exercise bike and other workout equipment to grow his seeds. He has attached seven light fixtures to the walls; the trays rest on a simple wooden shelf directly below the lights.

The plants are watered from the bottom to avoid disturbing the seed. Temple does not fuss with humidity or ventilation.

"I've never had damping-off 'til this year, with impatiens," he confessed.

Damping-off is a condition where seedlings wilt and die just after they emerge from the soil. Fungi that live on the surface of the soil accompanied by overcrowding and high humidity are thought to be responsible for this fatal condition.

Something new

Zinnias grown from seed are an inexpensive and colorful addition to
the garden.

Zinnias grown from seed are an inexpensive and colorful addition to the garden.

The garden is ever changing.

"I try something new every year," Temple said.

This year, he has cardinal climber vines growing up two trellises. Still, he does have some favorites.

"I really love Wave petunias," he said. "You don't have to do anything but water them."

All in all, the seed growing process is heartening for Temple.

"You look at that seed. You take care of it like a baby," he said. "Two months later, you've got flowers. It's a very interesting experience."
























Here are some mail-order seed catalogs:Park Seed Company1 Parkton Avenue, Greenwood, SC 29647-0001Orders: (800) 845-3369; office: (864) 223-8555info@parkseed.com/Shepherd's Garden Seeds30 Irene St.Torrington, CT 06790-6658(860) 482-3638www.shepherdseeds.comTerritorial Seed CompanyP.O. Box 157Cottage Grove, OR 97424-0061(541) 942-9547www.territorial-seed.comThompson & Morgan Inc.P.O. Box 1308Jackson, NJ 08527-0308800-274-7333www.thompson-morgan.com

Commenting has been disabled for this item.