Saturday, February 26, 2011

Starting Seeds - Finally Getting Gardening

My seeds finally arrived from the Ebay seller the other day.  Normally I like to get the petunias started the end of January, so I am about 3 weeks later than usual.  I bought from the same Ebay seller last year and had fast service and prompt delivery - not so much so this year - nearly six weeks from order to actually seeing seeds and then three packages somehow got forgotten, so I am still waiting on them.

Last year I kind of went out on a limb, when I switched from my reliable Canadian source to an online unknown, to purchase wave petunia seed.  But money has a way of talking! My good old reliable source was charging  $35 per 50 pelleted seeds.  Ebay had several sellers charging $4 per 50 pelleted seeds.  I thought the risk worth the effort.  My initial concern was that I was just getting seed, that some enterprising individual had saved off their plants from last year.  But the seed was pelleted and I couldn't see anyone purchasing pelleting equipment to pellet their own seed.

Anyway, my fears were unnecessary, the seed was fine last year.  It sprouted well, was all true to form and we had magnificent baskets and borders, as did a lot of my customers.

So I thought I would show you my method of seeding.  Yes it is kind of painstaking.  But sometimes a boring little task is good therapy after a busy day.  Besides I only do it once or twice a year.  It has become a bit of a tradition, a spring-is-nearly-here ritual.

(3) 288 plug trays, filled, moistened and ready to plant
I like to disinfect my plug trays from year to year to get rid of any carry-over disease or mold.  A good Javex solution and a sit in the sun for a day or two does the trick.  

I use only purchased potting soil, a soil-less mix, containing peat moss, vermiculite and perlite.  This mixture is weedfree, disease free and provides a good medium for seeds to sprout and quickly take root.

I pour the pellet seed in my hand, transfer one seed at a time, with a moistened toothpick to the prepared trays.  I like the 288 seedling trays (12 X 24).  Any smaller than that and it is hard to keep the soil moist while the seed germinates.

pelleted seed (petunia seed unpelleted is like fine sand)
Should I become a hand model or what?
transferring seed by seed
planted and tagged tray

Once the tray is planted, I put a clear plastic cover over it and put it in a warm, dark spot for the next four or five days, until the seeds start to sprout.   I try to spritz the trays every second day with water, just to keep the soil moist. Once you see the first leaves appear, get the trays under fluorescent lighting immediately. Once under lighting, the trays need to be watered faithfully every couple of days, until the plants are large enough to transplant into larger receptacles.

3 trays under fluorescent lighting
Babies - a little leggy, should have been under light a day sooner!

And that is about all I have to say for today.

Musings and meanderings from the Musical Gardener.

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