Over the years, I’ve tried several times to grow Purple Coneflower (Echinacea) and have not found it as easy as the seed catalogs claim. That’s Car Dealer Syndrome for you – make wild claims that can’t possibly be fulfilled if it will make a sale.

a really big bug – about 1-1/2 inches

In 2011, I planted numerous packages of seed, either Burpee or Ferry-Morse, all in one round clay pot. I got one plant to live which died back over the winter as perennials tend to do.

In 2012, it came back as an unbelievably huge plant. I wish I had photographed it. I separated it into four plants and, for some reason that escapes me now, planted two on either side of the pot. I’m embarrassed to admit to such a landscaping design as it makes me look like a total idiot, even worse than “stoopit.” I can handle stoopit. I’ve gotten so used to hearing it from friends and family, I think of it as a term of endearment. Idiot, however, is several notches up from stoopit so it pains me to think that I might have some DNA in the Idiot Department.

Encouraged by my success with the one-plant-divided-into-four, I bought countless packages of Purple Coneflower and planted all but one of them. I started them in those plastic clam-boxes for strawberries in the grocery store. I used a combination of commercial garden soil and seed starting mix. After they became crowded, I potted them up in anything that was handy. Here are the results:

Spring Seeds Are In!

It’s time to get serious about planning your spring garden plot. You bug averse, chicken-livered non-gardeners need to get with the veggie gardening program, too, because fresh veggie prices are projected to increase 3.5% to 4.5% in 2012 according to the experts at USDA’s Economic Research Service. You think I’m making this up? Fine, check out this chart with your own eyeballs: ers.usda.gov/Briefing/CPIFoodAndExpenditures/Data/CPIForecasts.htm.

Spring seeds have arrived! Your on-the-hoof researcher has the following to report:

Wal-Mart’s Ferry-Morse seeds underwent a design change in the package artwork (a red band across the top and white background below) plus a change in price structure. Some of the dollar packages dropped to 97 cents while others went up to $1.19.  Herbs went up from $1.00 to $1.39. Wal-Mart also brought in $2.00 organic packages from Seeds of Change. Home Depot brought back their $1.00 Burpee and Ferry-Morse seeds, among others. I could find no seeds under $1.57 at Lowes. Still, Lowes is my favorite big box home improvement emporium because they have the Down-and-Out-but-Not-Quite-Dead table in the Gardening Department. Just the other day, I bought a large Bush Daisy in a decorative plastic pot for $2.00. Makes me soooooo happy.

I like to get some of my basic seeds from among the dollar seed packages and then mail order the slightly strange and down right weird stuff brought back from Ichtheeluwookistan by the adventurous seed seekers.