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The Seedy Gardener: Marigolds on My Windowsill

Updated: Apr 9

As mentioned in my Milk Jug Marigolds blog, we are embarking on an experiment to answer the question:  what is the best or easiest way to grow French marigolds?  The group, consisting of Master Gardner (MG) trainees and MG observers of the propagation lab, will be divided into three groups:  sowing seeds directly into the garden, using milk jugs outdoors, and starting seeds indoors.  The last procedure is the focus of this blog.  Our end goal is to have marigolds to offer for sale at the RAMGA plant sale on May 11th.  I will also be planting using each technique and hope that we can guide each other through this experiment.

 

The Seed

I harvested seeds from French marigolds (Tagetes patula) during the summer and fall of 2023.  They were stored in a dry, dark cabinet at room temperature and will be distributed to the group during the propagation lab in February. 

 

The Windowsill

Despite the name of this method, the windowsill isn’t usually the best place to start seeds.  Getting adequate light is usually the biggest challenge of starting seeds indoors but the windowsill often has widely fluctuating temperatures and direct sun beating down through glass will usually fry little seedlings.  For help in meeting this challenge, I refer you to a nice article by University of Minnesota Extension:  https://extension.umn.edu/planting-and-growing-guides/lighting-indoor-plants#types-of-grow-lights-2651610.

 

We will be following the steps outlined in the RAMGA article: “How to Sow Seeds Indoors: A Step-by-Step Guide”.  Here is the link:

We will utilize seed starting mix purchased from Gardener’s Supply Company in used plastic produce containers, burying seed to approximately ¼” depth.  We will use ProMix purchased from Augusta County Coop when it is time to prick out or pot up the seedlings.

 

Start Date

In order to have plants ready for the sale, and allow adequate time for germination, growth, and hardening off, we will need to start no later than March 16th.

 

Good luck!  Please post a comment to this blog if you have any questions.


February 25, 2024


I went ahead and planted my marigolds and they are resting on the heat mat without supplemental light. I'll check them daily to make sure the seed mix remains moist, but not wet. I added a label inside the container in case I forget which container holds the marigolds.


April 9, 2024


Looking pretty good and already hardened off on my front porch. Fingers crossed, I'll get a bloom by the time of the sale.

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March 12, 2024

I pricked out a few of the larger plants this morning.

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February 29, 2024

Marigolds sprouted yesterday after only 3 days! Germination rate seems very low, so I suggest you sow heavily. I have removed the lid and moved under my grow light.



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Actually, the germination was better than I thought. Over the next days to weeks, seeds continued to germinate.


So I have thinned them a bit



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