All Things Gardening forum: Share your seed growing tips

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Oxford UK (Zone 8a)
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longk
May 15, 2017 2:51 PM CST
This probably should be in the seed forum but as this forum is much busier I thought that I would put it here. It would also be nice to encourage others who just buy plants to start growing from seed - the choice is infinitely greater!
So if you have any tips about starting seed or growing the seedlings on please share them here.

Salvia and anything unusual
Name: Elena
NYC (Zone 7a)
Daylilies Plant and/or Seed Trader Winter Sowing Hybridizer Peonies Vegetable Grower
Seed Starter Organic Gardener Composter Container Gardener Spiders! Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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bxncbx
May 15, 2017 3:10 PM CST
Okay, here's one I just figured out this year. I typically start Phlox drummondii seeds indoors and usually get very poor germination rates. This happened again this year. So the end of April I sowed some pots of seed and put them outside in a crappy patio greenhouse. Still very low germination. But when the temperature dropped for 2 weeks to highs around 55F and lows around 45F suddenly I started getting lots of seedlings popping up. Apparently (despite what was written on the multiple seed packets I had) those are the preferred temperatures for germination. Knowing this I just might try wintersowing them next year.
Oxford UK (Zone 8a)
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longk
May 15, 2017 3:17 PM CST
So I'll kick off with a fairly basic one but it is often overlooked. It also has the added benefit for those who are pushed for space (or over-ambitious like me) that the seedlings can be potted on much later. It can also be very useful for seedlings that dislike root disturbance.
My tip is the growing medium. Don't waste time on seedling compost but make your own mix as follows;
20% coco coir
20% horticultural sand
20% fine vermiculite
40% ordinary multipurpose compost with any large bits sieved out using a medium sieve.

Using this mix you can take extreme liberties. The following pictures show the process of potting up 36 Petunia exserta seedlings which were in a 4cm pot!
Remove.............
Thumb of 2017-05-15/longk/6258a7

Separate by gently dunking in water and teasing apart............
Thumb of 2017-05-15/longk/e9516d

Thumb of 2017-05-15/longk/6e9eb8

Pot up............
Thumb of 2017-05-15/longk/a23931

As they are potted up two or three to a cell I've used a similar mix to pot into - about half the coco coir with more multipurpose and I also added slow release fertilizer granules. This will help in three or four weeks when they are ready to be potted up individually.

And here is a 10cm pot of Eccromocarpus scaber seedlings tipped out..............
Thumb of 2017-05-15/longk/ee61d6

Thumb of 2017-05-15/longk/33b26c

Thumb of 2017-05-15/longk/b17416

There must have been close to 100 seedlings in there but as the seedlings were less established they didn't require water to tease the roots apart as the mix just fell away.
Potted on into a seed tray so I used the same mix as the Petunia.
Thumb of 2017-05-15/longk/3c1823

So in short a nice light mix makes things much easier when it is time to pot on and allows us to be a little cheeky too as far as potting up goes.
Salvia and anything unusual
Oxford UK (Zone 8a)
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longk
May 15, 2017 3:27 PM CST
bxncbx said:Okay, here's one I just figured out this year. I typically start Phlox drummondii seeds indoors and usually get very poor germination rates. This happened again this year. So the end of April I sowed some pots of seed and put them outside in a crappy patio greenhouse. Still very low germination. But when the temperature dropped for 2 weeks to highs around 55F and lows around 45F suddenly I started getting lots of seedlings popping up. Apparently (despite what was written on the multiple seed packets I had) those are the preferred temperatures for germination. Knowing this I just might try wintersowing them next year.
Ah, the old what is written on the packet again!
There's eleven pages basically devoted to that on the following thread...........

The thread "canary bird vine - tropaeolum peregrinum" in Vines and Climbers forum

With experience we can always crack the problem eventually Thumbs up


Salvia and anything unusual
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
Frugal Gardener Garden Procrastinator I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest
Photo Contest Winner: 2014 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.
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RickCorey
May 16, 2017 5:02 PM CST
1.
I couldn't break my over-watering habit, so now I compensate for it.

I found a lazy way to bottom-water, by putting an absorbent pad under the tray. Now I can just splash some water onto the pad, and know that every cell will get a drink.

And when I do top-water, the pad sucks excess water out of the over-watered cells and shares it with under watered cells.

And you don't have to stick a finger into a tiny cell to know whether the cell is dry below the surface. The pad is always at the same dampness as the bottom of every cell (since the mix in every cell is in firm contact with the pad.

https://garden.org/ideas/view/...

I figured this out after my first attempt to bottom-water (in my bathtub) required a plumber to come and un-clog the drain.

2.
I sometimes use wide Saran Wrap as a humidity dome. I use mini-blind slats cut into half or thirds the LONG way as "tent poles" to hold the plastic wrap up off the mix surface. If you can find a roll of 18" "food film", that makes it really easy.

3.
I find an entire, 11"x21" 1020 tray (propagation tray" too large to handle easily. So now I cut them into 11" wide "slices" to make them easier to sow, label, and transplant from. For example, a 128-cell plug tray has 16 rows of 8 cells per row. I cut those into "slices" - 8x2 or 8x3 or 8x4 cells. Now, instead of one big tray with 128 cells, I have 4 to 8 "slices" each with 16 to 32 cells.

Often I can sow a whole "slice" with just one variety.

As soon as a variety starts to emerge, you want to remove THAT variety from the humidity dome. But if you have a 128-cell tray, or 200-cells, and you don't start thousands of plants, you probably need to start multiple varieties in one tray. As soon as the first variety emerges, you need to remove those from the 100% humidity and extra warmth. But every other variety in that big tray still needs to humidity and warmth!

It's convenient to devote each "slice" of cells to just one variety. Then you CAN remove all the cells of each variety, and none others, at the ideal times. And if you start with 2 trays under a humidity tent, pretty soon you can consolidate all the remaining "slices" into one covered tray, saving space under the lights.

4.
One way to get more warmth out of a tray-warming pad is to insulate UNDER the heating pad. I used some drywall that HD had on sale. Or wood is a pretty good insulator.

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