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Joshua Whiting



Planting Seeds on New Year's Day

Front yard perennial pollinator native sustainable grass replacement project - Update 2024-01-01

I planted seeds as the sun set on the first evening of the new year. (Not to be overly dramatic about it or anything, this is just what happened.)

New Year’s Day 2024 Seed Planting -02

Continuing my belligerent contrarianism to neighborhood lawn and garden norms by planting pollinator-friendly native drought-resistant perennial wildflower seeds all over my front yard. The yard that I didn’t once water in 2023, and that I woodchipped over a couple of months ago. The yard where this summer I let a volunteer/“weed” yarrow grow large and bloom in the middle of the “grass” rather than mow it down. That yarrow showed me what the yard actually wanted to do, so I am helping it actualize that now. (Note to self: I should have gotten some yarrow seeds to give it companions; I wonder if I can find some today…)

I feel like I probably shouldn’t be able to do this in January, but it’s 40 degrees, the ground is bare of snow, the chips are not frozen together. It is supposed to get colder any day now, and snow significantly, so this won’t last. These are seeds that can/should be planted in fall so that they can cold stratify over the winter, then sprout in spring and summer. Seems much better to have them do this in the ground than in a moist paper towel in a freezer bag or something, since I still can.

My method is digging holes in the chips (which have started composting beneath the surface but after just a month or two aren’t there yet), filling each hole with two scoops of organic planting soil I purchased, then planting a recommended group of seeds in that soil. My thought is that I’m basically mimicking seed starters or pots, but while the seeds are stratifying the composting chips will at the same time be improving the soil under and around their immediate little soil spot. Or the composting could burn up the seeds, too, I guess.

Have no idea if this will work or at what scale, but I feel it’s worth a try. I don’t have much to lose but an afternoon’s time and the cost of some seed packets and soil. And the earth is maybe going to burn us off anyway if more people don’t start doing more stuff like this, so might as well try.

Types of seeds planted or that I will plant soon:

From seed packets purchased at Millcreek Gardens a month or two ago:

  • Showy Milkweed
  • Butterfly Flower Milkweed
  • Echinacea (Coneflowers)

From a seed packet purchased via mail from Plants of the Southwest a couple of years ago

  • Rocky Mountain Penstemon
  • Chokecherries

From paper and plastic bags of seeds I harvested from sheep ranch and national forest land around my wife’s family’s cabin in upper Weber Canyon:

  • Arrow leaf Balsamroot and/or Mules Ears Wyethia (I harvested these in the same bag)
  • some kind of lavender fleabane daisies or asters that I really like
  • shrubby cinquefoil
  • two kinds of sagebrush

New Year’s Day 2024 Seed Planting -03

New Year’s Day 2024 Seed Planting -01

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Last Updated:
Format / Genre: updates
Places: my backyard
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Topics: gardening seeds
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