With the cooling change of autumn comes the renewed sense to sow seeds. Brassicas, root crops and legumes are rolling out to the gardens.
But getting from seed to little plant can be a challenge.
Before starting remember ‘Hygiene’ is very important. It is during the germination stage that many seeds fail, often with damping off.
The first step is to pick a good quality seed raising mix. I prefer to buy mine, however you can make your own. But it must be ‘sterilized.’ This can be done in a oven or the microwave. The heat is required to kill any ‘bacteria’ that maybe in within the media. However this will kill any good and bad bacteria.
A recipe for a commercial quality mix
Scarecrows recipe for potting mix
A good post on ALS with a few ideas of how to make your own
The next step is to soak your trays/ punnets and any tools you my need too. This too will kill any ‘badies’ that maybe on the containers. I use a weak bleach solution (10-20ml to 5+L water) and immerse the trays overnight. I have read of Dettol being used, however I use bleach as it is used in commercial situations.
Before you jump in and fill your trays, prepare an area to work on. If you can wipe it too down with a weak solution of bleach.
When filling your trays, do not pack them down hard. So may do this and there is no room for the roots to expand or air for them to breathe. Before you stick your seeds in give the full trays a good soaking with water and allow to drain, preferably mix a fish emulsion into the water for an extra boost.
Now sow the seeds. Seeds generally need to be planted to a depth twice their size. Small seeds such as lettuce can be sprinkled on the surface of the mix and covered with vermiculite. It is not neccessary to use vermiculite, a fine sprinkling of soil can also do the job. (Remember some seeds are best planted directly into the soil such as corn, carrots, beetroots and beans.) Don’t forget to label the trays and use a water proof pen… it is hard to tell 5 types of tomato seedlings apart when they are all 1 inch high!)
To Propagate/ germinate my seeds I use a plastic storage box (No kidding they sell these as ‘propagation houses’ for $20 at the hardware shop!) For ventilation I have drilled six holes in the top. Once filled and the lid is on tight, I place the filled box on the back verandah it receives indirect sunlight.
I currently have the trays above full so when they start to germinate I will post about the next few steps. Just remember some seeds take up to 2 weeks to germinate.