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Noon Edition

Bill Larkin's Seeds

Bill Larkin's annuals

There were so many flowers in Bill Larkin's yard that it dazzled my eyes. Because the garden floods during periods of heavy rain, all of the annual plants on his quarter acre lot are in pots or raised beds. Bill averages about six-and-a-half hours each day with a hose in his hand, as daily watering is needed when plants are in containers in hot weather.

Bill told me that he grows most of his flowering annuals from seed. He collects the small green seed pods from the impatiens in shallow cake pans and then lets them dry out in the sun. Then he puts them in a colander and separates the seeds, almost as small as grains of sand, from the pods and stores them for use the following year.

Sometimes in late summer when his pots of wave petunias are leggy and flowering is waning, he sprinkles some impatiens seeds into the pots with them to provide more flowers in fall.

Petunias also have seed pods that become visible as the plant dies back in late fall. Bill crushes the spent petunia plants back into their pots, lets them overwinter outdoors and waits to see new plants come up in the pots the following spring when the seeds have germinated. He says that he finds zinnias and marigolds are the easiest to grow, as he just cuts off some of their spent flower heads each year and then shreds them to get the seeds to keep until the following spring.

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