The Q&A Archives: How Much Water

Question: I'm starting vegetable plants for the first time by seeds, and I was in your Burpee store and purchased the mini-greenhouse seed starter (36 cell). I sowed the seeds on April 1, 1999 and added water about 1/8" above the ribs in the bottom of the water tray that the cells sit on. #1, Is that enough water for the seeds to germinate ? #2, If not what should I do now that it's 4 days after the fact ?

Answer: Normally, the soil should be as damp as a wrung out sponge when you plant the seeds. The dome then maintains the humidity level until you remove it when the seeds germinate. The soil mix can be a bit difficult to moisten initially, and there is a certain amount of "cook til done" to the process.

By setting the pots in water, the soil should have been able to wick up moisture. If the pots are still sitting in water and/or if the surface of the soil is soaking wet, dump out the water and crack the lid a bit to allow some air circulation. If the surface of the soil stayed dry, try gently watering it with a mister or a very gentle soaking from a small mouthed container so as not to jostle the seeds around. Water until the pots take on a bit of weight -- or until water runs out the drainage holes. Allow that excess water to drain and then place the lid back on. Once the seedlings germinate, you will water lightly at first and then more heavily as they grow and use more water.

Like anything else, gardening is an adventure full of trial and error -- enjoy your seeds!

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