Planting Seeds – Successfully
I’m sure you remember the school project where you put a bean in a wet paper towel in a sunny windowsill and waited for days until it sprouted. It is simply amazing how something that looks so dry and dead can come to life like that. Even though that kind of germinating is pretty easy, it can get tricky and is not always successful. For beginner gardening and farming enthusiasts these simple steps may come in handy.
Getting your seed ready
First of all you will need good seeds. Seeds should be younger than two years and come from a seed company with a good reputation. Try to avoid genetically modified seeds. Before you start germinating, it’s a good idea to do some research – the Internet has so much information and there is always the back of the seed packet. Some seeds need to germinate indoors for several weeks while others only need a couple of days. Getting the timing right is very important.
What to germinate in
You also need to look up what growing medium you should use for the seed you are growing, or at least use something neutral. Although different seeds need different chemical compositions to grow, most are ok in soilless growing medium. You can buy this pre-mixed or make your own. I mix vermiculite, perlite and milled sphagnum moss in equal parts and it works beautifully for most seeds. The container you use should be between 5 and 7.5cm deep and have holes for drainage at the bottom. Once the seeds germinate and start sprouting, you will need to move it to a bigger container or plant it in the ground so it’s not necessary to get fancy seed trays – an old egg carton would do just fine.
NB: Find out whether your seeds need to be pre-soaked. If so, put them in a clean container under water at room temperature for up to 24 hours before planting. Make sure you plant them straightaway after soaking.
Planting the seeds
Once you have everything ready, it is time to plant. Fill your containers with growing medium to about a centimetre from the rim. Sprinkle water to moisten the medium – making sure it’s not too wet. Then scatter the seeds evenly and gently press them into the growing medium. Don’t sow too many or too near one another. Cover the seeds with more growing medium (about three times as thick as the seed). Moisten this layer as well.
Time to wait
While you are waiting for your seeds to germinate, make sure it is in the right conditions. Some seeds need sunlight and others don’t; again, do some research. If you are not sure, a good rule of thumb is to keep trays in a room with a temperature of between 15 and 25 degrees Celsius. Keep the trays covered with plastic wrap or newspaper and gently water the seeds, while being careful not to overwater.
As soon as your seeds germinate and start sprouting, move them to a sunny place so they can start growing strongly, ready for the next phase: growing seedlings into robust and healthy plants.