There is no annual tradition of annuals in my family. My mother is a great rosarian and can talk hybrid teas and aged steer manure till the cows come home, but springtime seed trays were not a regular feature of my upbringing.
Should I be starting from seeds or not? I cannot rely on adopted lineage for guidance, as two of my favorite garden experts go opposite ways. Henry Mitchell waxed poetic about sowing seeds indoors (but this was a man who could make painting garden stakes in the basement sound like a numinous experience).
The alternate point of view is from Dianne Benson, who draws a line in the sandy loam and refuses to cross over into propagation land. And she has a point--the trays, the lights, the schedules, the hassle. It's enough to make you wait until May and pay $10.95 for a moonflower in a one-gallon pot.
Also, there's the whole process of thinning that is so blithely discussed. Call me a wimp, but I think it's rather unkind to pull up a lot of plants just because they're smaller than their peers. A few weeks earlier one had prepared new abodes for them, invited them in, encouraged their growth with light and water--now if they lag behind a bit, YANK, they're dead.
Seems a bit harsh.
But that is, in fact, how all those one-gallon moonflowers at the nursery were raised. And complaining about thinning them myself is like the time my 6 year-old granddaughter saw a fisherman with a live fish on his line and cried out, That's so mean! Why doesn't he just buy fish at the grocery store?
You can see the end of the story, can't you? I'll space the moonflower seeds far apart so I don't have to thin them, get them all safely into pots on the deck, enjoy them as they flourish in their viney way, and then knock them off because I'll forget to water them during a heat wave in August.
There's more than one way to be harsh to a plant. I'd better stay busy with the watering can this summer.