Are those cheap packets of seeds you sometimes see for sale in the spring worth it?
I spent 22 cents for two packets of stock (Matthiola incana) seeds, variety ‘Ten Week’, and sowed them later than I should have, given that they are an early spring flower that will tolerate frost and don’t like warm days.
Those two packets had a lot of seeds in them and I think every one of them germinated, so I ended up with way more seedlings than I ever thought possible.
I planted a few of the stock seedlings out in the vegetable garden in May with no great expectation that they would do much once it got hot. I didn’t want to waste my 22 cent investment!
But surprisingly, the weather hasn’t been that hot, so I got some blooms.
Admittedly, the picture above is a rather poor showing. I assume once more florets open, the flowers will be better looking.
As for scent, which everyone says is the main reason for growing stock, I didn’t detect any scent. Hmmm… too warm for scent but not too warm to bloom?
Anyway, the whole reason I picked up two 11 cent packets of seeds on a whim was because I had just read about stock in The Story of Flowers and how they changed the way we live by Noel Kingsbury, a book sent to me to review. Based on what Kingsbury wrote, stock was “the” flower of the eighteenth century.
How could I not give them a try for that price?
The variety I got, ‘Ten Week,’ even dates back to the 1750s.
In Karen Azoulay’s new book Flowers and Their Meanings, which I recently bought because I got a copy from the library and thought it was too pretty not to own, she says that stock means “lasting beauty” and the variety ‘Ten Week’ means “promptness.”
Stock is in the cabbage family and has edible flowers. I don’t intend to eat mine. I intend to watch them and see how they grow the rest of the summer.
Now back to the original question. Are those cheap packets of seeds worth it?
Yes, sometimes they are, especially if you are an impressionable gardener like I am, who reads something interesting about a plant she’s known about for a long time but never actually grew, and then sees a chance to try them for practically nothing.
For my 22 cents, I got lots of seedlings, a connection to gardeners from the 18th century and earlier, plus a topic for another blog post.
A good investment!
(Note: The packets could have cost me 10 cents each! I bought them at Menards where they regularly offer an 11% rebate on nearly everything, which you get by sending in the rebate receipt with their form. Of course, who’s going to mail in a rebate receipt for a penny? What do stamps costs these days? 63 cents. But I do send in the form for higher amounts as long as I’m going to get back more than the price of the stamp. And then several weeks later, I get my rebate, which is only good on more stuff from Menards… so there’s always a return trip in my future, which might take me past a rack of more seeds…)