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Germinating Seeds

TIPS for success with growing plants from seed.
While growing herbs and other plants from seed is natures’ way of ensuring survival of the species, it is not always easy to be successful unless you keep in mind the nature of the plants themselves.
The following tips are here to help but minor variations may need to be adapted as common sense will probably suggest.
Germination technique and expected times to germination are indicated on your seed packets but we do assume that you are familiar with the fundamentals of gardening.
Most herbs tend towards the alkaline end of the Ph scale but not all.
We tend not to include peat moss in our seed raising mix as it can create a slightly more acid environment for the seedlings.

  1. Always use or make a good quality seed raising mix. The mix should always contain sieved material to keep it fine enough for young roots to navigate. Sand, sieved potting mix and ‘vermiculite, pumice or pearlite’.
  2. Never sow seeds too deeply. This is probably the most common mistake that people make. If the seeds are too far down, they may be attempting to germinate but unable to reach the surface before the nutrient stores within the seed run out.
  3. Try and keep them uniformly moist during germination. Seeds that are allowed to dry out or are left to sit in bog will probably not survive. You must not overwater the seeds or seedlings.
  4. Firm the soil around your seeds by pressing down on the seed mix after you sow. If you have enough vermiculite in your mix it will not become too compressed and air and water will circulate around the seeds.
  5. Emerging seeds are reasonably delicate and easily damaged by sunlight even though they are attempting to reach it. Full sun or full shade are not helpful. A bit of each is best until the seedlings are looking after themselves. Morning sun is better than afternoon sun but some reprieve from the sun is best initially.
  6. Many seeds, (but not all) need warmth to germinate. It’s not just air temperature that matters but also the temperature of the soil or seed raise mix.
  7. Be patient. If you have done all the right things as suggested above, then it is just a matter of time until your seeds sprout. Sometimes you will get everything coming up at once and other times germination will be staggered. The seeds themselves will decide when everything is ‘just right’ and no amount of encouragement, intimidation or yelling will entice them.
  8. Do not over fertilise. A little slow release fertiliser like ‘Osmacote’ may help but most seeds do not require nutrient until well after they have sprouted.
  9. Most seeds will of course only germinate between certain temperatures.
    Too low and the seed takes up water but cannot germinate and therefore rots, too high and growth within the seed is prevented.
    Fortunately most seeds are tolerant of a wide range of temperatures but it is wise to try to maintain a steady, not fluctuating temperature. Once several of the seeds start to germinate the temperatures can be reduced and ventilation and light should be given.

Symptoms of Low light in your Germination area:

  1. Elongation of the stems.
  2. Slow growth.
  3. Yellowing of the lower leaves.
  4. Softer growth in the larger leaves.
  5. Plants are bending in one direction (usually towards a strongest light source)