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The Sunday Snatch featuring Firecracker Penstemon Seeds

I want to give a quick update on the curtain that goes with the trampoline shade structure:

 

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Thanks guys.  So much for having cool stuff.

 

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Alright, I’m gonna go ahead and admit that I found myself unprepared for today’s snatch.  So I just went into the yard and zoned out until I came up with a plan for how to get more of these next spring, because they are delightful:

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Firecracker penstemon, Penstemon eatoniiis native to a huge portion of the West, though it’s most common from 3,000 to 8,000 feet elevation.  Mine do well with a few extra sips of water now and again, but I know other people who totally neglect theirs and the plants are still happy.

After they’re done blooming the flower stalks dry up, like so:

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This is the perfect time to grab up the seeds, especially because the birds will eat a good portion of them in the next few weeks as they drop (I’m all for sharing, but I’m pretty sure the number of mourning doves in the yard doubles by the day and they seem to eat 24/7).  The harvesting portion of this snatch is very basic: grab some scissors, cut the stalks, try not to shake them around too much while you’re cutting them or a lot of the seeds will spill out.

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Then, when you’ve got them on a work surface, shake like crazy until you end up with a big pile.

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After you’ve got your seeds ready to go, you can try multiple approaches to getting them to germinate.  I tried:

1) planting them in old potting soil in a handy Ikea seed tray (going to get new soil sounded like a lot of work on this 95 degree Sunday afternoon), which I will water twice a day for many weeks.

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2) Sticking them in Jiffy Peat Pellets (I broke the greenhouse portion long ago, but I think it’s too hot for that by now anyway), which I can get away with watering more like once a day for a few weeks.

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3) Cold stratifying them in a damp paper towel in the refrigerator, which will carry on for a couple months until I take the seeds out and put them in the remaining Jiffy Pellets.

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4) Taking the dried stalks and placing them directly in a mulched basin.

5) Gathering a baggy full of seeds and saving them for the first winter rain.

Next year I hope to have ten times as many of these plants.  I’ll update you as to whether any of these methods work!  Crossing my fingers.

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