SUCCESS WITH SEEDS
The sense of satisfaction when harvest time comes is beyond compare!
Seed sowing is not essential to a beautiful productive vegetable garden - expertly grown nursery seedlings are readily available whenever the planting urge strikes. But the advantages of starting from scratch include a wider choice of varieties, the ability to grow more for your money and of course that wonderful sense of accomplishment. Before you rush into sowing all your seeds at once, a little forward thinking is wise. Because not all seeds are equal.
TEMPERATURE AND TIMING
How long we have to wait for our carefully sown seeds to sprout their first green leaves depends very much on when and where we sow them. Each seed variety has its ideal temperature at which germination will occur in the shortest number of days. Tomato seeds for example, will sprout in just six days if the soil (or seed raising mix) exceeds
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Spring seedlings, peas, potatoes. a constant 25°C. At 15°C it takes about two weeks, while at 10°C tomato seeds will take a month or more, if they germinate at all. So there is little point in rushing into sowing certain seeds outdoors in very early spring.
On the other hand, a green house will allow you to get a head start. A soil thermometer is another useful tool for keen seed sowers.
Some veges (such as peas, cabbages, radishes and onions) germinate easily at much lower temps, and it makes sense to sow these cool weather veges early to make the most of the spring growing season.
As with tomatoes - capsicum, pumpkins, cucumbers and zucchini need warmer soil temperatures but can be started in pots to be planted outdoors after the risk of frost has passed. The absolute heat lovers are eggplants and melons.
Light is another determining factor for some seeds. Coriander seeds won’t germinate in bright light, nor will pansies and violas. The trick here is to cover the fine seed with a sheet of newspaper or cardboard (or an inverted tray) and remove it after germination. Larger light sensitive seeds, such as sweet peas, can be sown at enough depth to protect them from light. Petunia, impatiens and lettuce are seeds that like the light. Because they are sown on the surface, care must be taken to keep these seeds moist. Mist-spray with water regularly or cover with glass or plastic wrap.
Some seeds have built-in protection to prevent them from germinating until the time is right. Their preferred wake up call may be their need to experience low temperatures for a minimum period of time. They may need extra moisture or some form of physical abrasion to break their hard seed coat. If you’re having trouble germinating seeds, check if they have any special requirements.