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Seed Starting Tip: Pre-Moisten Soil Medium

By Joannabanana
January 13, 2013

Pre-moisten the soil mix before you fill your seeding trays or pots to sow your seeds. Moisture level should be similar to a damp sponge. Add warm water to soil mix and let stand for about 10 minutes, then fill pots or cells and sow seeds as directed. In addition to early indoor seed starting, this method applies to wintersowing and/or preparation for stratification (cool/damp environment) of seeds.

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Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
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valleylynn
Jan 12, 2013 7:13 PM CST
Great idea Joanna. It is almost impossible to moisten the soil properly once you plant the seed. I learned that the hard way. *Blush*
Nice healthy seedlings in your photo.
Name: Joanne
Calgary, AB Canada (Zone 3a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: Canadian Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Roses
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Container Gardener Vegetable Grower Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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Joannabanana
Jan 12, 2013 7:39 PM CST
Thanks Lynn! I too learned the hard way. That's what I love about ATP Gardening Ideas. Always great advice and all from 1st hand experience
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
Image
valleylynn
Jan 12, 2013 7:47 PM CST
I agree Experience is a very good teacher.
Name: Pegi Putnam
Norwalk, Ca. zone 10b
Charter ATP Member Cat Lover Dog Lover Region: California Region: United States of America Plumerias
Container Gardener Garden Art Vegetable Grower
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Samigal
Jan 12, 2013 9:39 PM CST
Once again I'm learning some good gardening tips. I'm doing it your way now, not mine.
Name: Joanne
Calgary, AB Canada (Zone 3a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: Canadian Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Roses
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Container Gardener Vegetable Grower Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Image
Joannabanana
Jan 12, 2013 9:59 PM CST
Pegi, You will have to let us know how it works out for you
Lynn, Here's what that little seedling turned into. One of my favourite annuals: Pavlova Dark Blue Aster

Thumb of 2013-01-13/Joannabanana/3c974b
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
Image
valleylynn
Jan 12, 2013 10:40 PM CST
Joanna, that is so beautiful, and the photo is stunning. You should add it to the database. Such a wonder representative of an amazing aster.
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Jan 13, 2013 6:28 AM CST
Wow, what a gorgeous flower!

I moisten the potting mix before filling the trays, too. In fact, I moisten the mix before filling any containers, including ones for summer annuals. But if for some reason I don't water it first, I then wet it with soapy water after planting. The soap helps a lot with that initial wetting.

Karen
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
Image
valleylynn
Jan 13, 2013 9:30 AM CST
Karen, the soap won't hurt the seeds/seedlings?
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Jan 13, 2013 10:24 AM CST
It hasn't yet! : Hilarious! I usually use a little Ivory liquid, not much.

Karen
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
Image
valleylynn
Jan 13, 2013 11:39 AM CST
I may give that a try. Thanks Karen.
Name: Joanne
Calgary, AB Canada (Zone 3a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: Canadian Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Roses
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Container Gardener Vegetable Grower Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Image
Joannabanana
Jan 13, 2013 11:45 AM CST
I've seen garden recipe tonics that include Sunlight dish soap too.
Name: Pegi Putnam
Norwalk, Ca. zone 10b
Charter ATP Member Cat Lover Dog Lover Region: California Region: United States of America Plumerias
Container Gardener Garden Art Vegetable Grower
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Samigal
Jan 13, 2013 1:28 PM CST
Seed catalogues are arriving, it will be that time soon.. I don't have much space but have a raised bed that will be planted differently this year.
Name: Joanne
Calgary, AB Canada (Zone 3a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: Canadian Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Roses
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Container Gardener Vegetable Grower Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Image
Joannabanana
Nov 9, 2013 7:51 PM CST
Seed starting season is coming soon Hurray!
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
Image
valleylynn
Nov 9, 2013 7:59 PM CST
Hurray!
And I have some seed to start. But not until our winter is fully established.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Apr 22, 2014 6:42 PM CST
Your tip is an excellent one, and I wish I had read and understood it before I ever started my first seed. Maybe I could have avoided developing habits that I still can't break.

I think everyone but me knows NOT to top-water seed-starting cells until water comes out the bottom.

And to NEVER over-water a peaty mix, where anything more than "barely moist" is too wet.

I used to treat seed-starting the way I would transplant a bush or tree: lots and lots and lots of water "to settle it in". Of course, that is a great way to kill tray after tray of seeds. That, I have plentiful experience with.

I guess it is possible for most people to learn how NOT to over-water, but I haven't mastered it yet.

Instead I make really fast-draining seedling mix (mostly small bark nuggets with enough generic Pro-Mix for wicking) and set my seedling trays on an absorbent mat that draws water DOWN and OUT of each cell as much as it provides bottom water TO each cell.

Sometimes the most adverse condition a plant faces is the gardener.

http://garden.org/ideas/view/RickCorey/646/Bottom-Watering-S...

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