Read Part I here
My second gardening season I bought some more flowers from a mail order company (cough, Michigan Bulb, cough), because that seemed like a more affordable option. I still tried to follow my great gardening plan where I could and adjust it as needed, but after a while I just started plopping things in where I thought they would look good. I supplemented the mail order plants with cosmos and a few perennials I found on sale locally for 33 cents each. I also direct sowed some seeds right into my flower beds.
Some of these efforts did better than others. Half of the plants I ordered either didn't bloom in the first place, or didn't come back a second year. Direct seeding wasn't a great success either, although some things like bachelor buttons and sweet alyssum did grow and even bloom from seed. The tiny perennials I bought locally did the best of all of the plants that year, and I still have most if not all of them. Still, my garden was sparse. I longed for the lush full gardens that others had, but I figured creating my garden would be gradual process. Every year it got a little better.
That winter I discovered something that would make the biggest difference in my garden: winter sowing. I was skeptical that you could plant seeds in plastic bottles and containers in winter and get plants in spring, but I decided to give it a try. And you know what? It works! If you want to have a variety of plants cheaply, then you must try winter sowing.
Now most of the yearly additions to my garden are winter-sowed flowers. This spring I planted poppies, zinnias and holly hocks, all of which were winter-sowed. I've also successfully winter sowed Irish Eyes Rudbeckia, columbine, cerinthe, nasturiums, cleome, bachelor buttons, sweet alyssum, Sweet William, poppies of all kinds, cosmos, coneflowers and more.
Read part III