For an amateur gardener, planting is a true “initiatory” stage. Here is all you need to know to pass “head sower” successfully … Harvesting seeds, storing seeds in dry before starting sowing. Choice of good containers and potting soil suitable for sowing.
Once the seeds are in the soil, protect the seedlings, water them and expose them to the right light to obtain vigorous plants. These techniques are easy to implement for successful seeding and vigorous plants.
Plan Your Seedlings
First and foremost, plan for your seedlings: Planning is an art! You have to think, anticipate and write everything down. This is the assurance of not spoiling seeds, making the best use of space and managing your time. This also avoids having to restart the work. So get a notebook and a pencil.
Then make an inventory: surface you have, sunshine, your available time, your needs and/or desires. Finally, draw a plan of the kitchen garden or the massif on the season.
To keep your seeds well is the assurance of successful sowing. They must totally dry out of the light. The ideal storage temperature is close to 5 ° C. The bottom of the fridge is perfect. You can also freeze the excess seeds. Before using, defrost for 24 hours (first in the refrigerator and then in a cold room) and sow them immediately.
Sow With Precision
Seeds should be sufficiently spaced, at least 1 cm at the beginning. Subsequently, the thinning will be facilitated and the plants will grow better. The large seeds are buried one to two times their thickness. The finest rest directly on the soil.
For all those which are very fine (parsley), the seeder is essential. You can even sow the small ones ( poppy ) by mixing them with fine sand, to better distribute them.
Cover With Newspaper to Maintain Moisture
Initially, to water without disturbing the fragile distribution of seeds, the best method is to cover the substrate with a sheet of damp newspaper. The water will percolate through without disturbing anything. In addition, the paper will retain heat and moisture, so the lift will be more even.
This method succeeds quite well with parsley seeds, always capricious. The paper can be replaced by a slightly thick fabric.
Potted, Tamp the Earth but Leave Some Air
The soil should be compacted so that the seeds adhere well. But to germinate, they need as much air as water. So do not press too hard. A small wooden washer with a handle is very practical.
Water the Seedlings Without Soaking
At first, only one watering is enough. And if the soil is already a little wet, just spray. Then closely monitor the condition of the potting soil. Watering will only really start when the seeds have germinated because that is when they need the most water. Always water with water at room temperature.
To Harvest Early, No Need to Sow Early
You can only do this, and indoors, if you have a lot of daylight. Indeed, once emerged, the seedlings need a lot of light (and a temperature not too hot), otherwise they wither (the stems grow pale and grow excessively, then collapse) and, ultimately, do not give anything good.
Let the Plants Harden
If you pass the plants too quickly from the protected atmosphere of the house, the greenhouse or the frame, to the cold outside, they will undergo real stress.
The walls of their cells are too soft to withstand the drying due to the wind, even moderate, the heat of direct sunlight, the rise and fall of temperatures too fast and the cool nights.
Ideally, this transition takes place over 15 days. We start by leaving the plants outside for an hour or two in the shade, during the day, then we return them later and later to leave them outside, in the moderate sun, when there is no more risk of freezing.
Choose the Right Exposure to Germinate Your Seeds
Most seeds germinate in the dark as well as in the light. But some need light to germinate well. This is the case of Ageratum, Begonia, Browallia, Impatiens, Digitalis, and Petunia, for example.
It is, therefore, necessary to cover them simply with a light layer of potting soil. Other species, such as Calendula, Centaurea, Phlox, Verbena, do not germinate in light and must be protected by a black plastic sheet.
Use a Special Potting Soil
Choose either special potting soil or a universal potting soil, to which you have added a third of perlite or vermiculite, to aerate it. If you want to pick up old potting soil, spend 30 minutes in the oven at 100 ° C.
Repose the Seedlings at the Right Time
After emergence, the two “leaves” that you see are actually cotyledons, that is to say, reserve organs from the seed and intended to feed the seedling so that it develops its root.
The two real leaves appear next. Up to six leaves can be transplanted. The important thing is that seedlings do not fade if they stay too tight.
Transplanting is the removal of the seedling from the box where it grows with its congeners, to an individual cup. The seedling must be minimally traumatized during this operation. Proceed on a cool, sunless day, or work early in the morning in the shade.
Give Light to the Plants to Prevent Them From Fading
An etiolated plant is a plant that grows all the way in search of light and develops frail stems. These plants will recover badly from this insufficiently luminous period.
So it is better to take out your seedlings during the day, even if it is cool (without frost, of course), and return them at night, let them fade.
Label to Identify Properly
Nothing is more like a melon plant than a pumpkin plant, at least for the neophyte. Take the trouble to label your seedlings, indicating the variety, but also the date of sowing, and possibly, the brand of the seed.
The good old pencil with a greasy lead (3B and more) will withstand water and UV, which is not the case of felts called “indelible”.
Protect Young Shoots From Looters
They are numerous to covet young tender shoots: snails and slugs, of course, but also starlings, blackbirds, and rodents. A fence will prevent larger predators from eating the seeds before they germinate.
For slugs, only Ferramol is (relatively) effective, and safe for the rest of the fauna.
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