Finally, time to plant seeds! Now as I’ve mentioned before, it’s a really neat feeling having a packet of seeds in your hand. You know the potential in those seeds, all the fun you’re going to have watching them grow and flourish as sprouts, plants, and finally fruits/vegetables.
As you can imagine, it’s exciting to have something like this in front of me (sorry for the terrible picture. View the full list of plants in this previous article):
Yep, that’s how you get seeds when you order online from sulit.com.ph in the Philippines. Haha. Even here I go with online shopping over conventional, just another generation X technophile.
Now, just a little on planting for those learning. Most all seeds need a nice moist environment to sprout in. It’s the planting depth that changes. If you don’t have the information on a seed you’re planting you can use size as a general guideline. Smaller seeds need to be shallower (<1in/3.5cm deep) while larger seeds can be planted deeper. The seed carries a payload of nutrients that the plant uses as it grows towards the surface. Small seeds don't have as much nutrients so they need to be closer to the top, that way they can get a leaf up there to collect energy from the sun.
If you are having trouble with a batch of seeds germinating in soil, there are many tricks you can use to help them along.
The first thing I try is soaking the seeds in water for a day before planting. If that doesn’t work, I’ll use the paper towel method. Sandwich the seeds between moist paper towels, and those between two dinner plates, one overturned on top of the other. Keep everything as sterile as possible and don’t make the paper towels too wet. The pouch created between the plates should be a perfect humid environment for the seeds to sprout in. I might need to use this technique on at least one species here, so I’ll discuss that more if needed later.
For now I’ll use a seed tray and some custom soilless seed medium. I have a seed tray with 54 slots, but that isn’t nearly enough for what I want to plant. It will work to plant this first batch though. I’m planting the seeds for Planters 1 and 2 this time, plus some little assistant plants, haha. Here’s what I’m planting: cherry tomato, mica tomato, cucumber, eggplant, jalapeno and labuyo peppers, broccoli, coriander (cilantro), dill, parsley, and purple basil.
The medium I’m using to germinate the seeds is 1:1:0.2 or so of coco peat:Burnt Rice Hull:worm castings. Not sure I even need the worm castings in there but I threw some in just for a little fertilizer. And just like the planters outside, I inoculated this medium with a compost tea. So I guess I’m not using sterile soil, ha ha. I believe a healthy population of beneficial microbes is much better than a sterile planting medium.
Check out the seed tray with soil:
Most of the plants I bought required quite shallow sowing so I just poked a little hole in the top of the soil and dropped those suckers in there. I planted several seeds in each slot. If they all germinate, which I’m expecting most will, I’ll just select the fittest and throw the others in the compost bin – sorry runts. OR I will donate them to friends who will probably kill them more slowly. I’m not sure which is a worse fate, at least in the bin they go to some good.
…and after some time, sowing is done! Just around sunset. I have the tray inside where it catches sun through the window from about 1:30pm to 6:00pm; which is drawing close as I finish sowing the seeds. Such nice light on the new tray bursting(not quite) with potential!
I’d like to hear from you about how you germinate seeds. Some people use direct sow, others use paper towels and no soil initially, some use a sterile seed mix, etc. I’d like to hear about the different methods!