Garden Notes: Germination

As another garden season approaches, the thoughtful gardener might consider the basic conditions required for most seeds to germinate. 

Garden notes: Germination. © Fred Montague

This review is especially important when we plant seeds indoors in pots or in flats.

While warmth is generally not a problem indoors, the interacting characteristics of soil moisture (watering) and soil aeration are always tricky.

The key is a seed-starting medium with optimal texture--some larger particles (sand or perlite) to create air spaces between them and organic matter and smaller particles (e.g., silt) to hold soil moisture.

Water the pots and flats by placing them in a tray of lukewarm water. Make sure there are drainage/uptake holes in the bottoms of the planted containers.

When the surface of the soil in the pots is moist, remove them from the tray of water. Bottom watering prevents seeds from being disturbed as they might be if watering from above.

Repeat the watering process as the flats or pots dry out. Until the seedlings emerge, keep the soil surface just moist. 

When the seedlings emerge, be careful not to overwater them.

If you aren't sure about what the seedlings and soil are telling you, plant enough containers so you can try different approaches.

Experiment, Learn, Enjoy.