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Germinating seeds: a few beginner questions (jars over soil and Jiffy pellets)

Discussion in 'Edible Gardening' started by Aldo, Mar 30, 2019.

  1. Aldo

    Aldo Super Gardener

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    Having bought all my plants as plugs last year, this time around I am trying my hand at germinating seeds.

    My child wants to grow corn this year, so last week we planted 12 seeds, plus 4 Tromboncino seeds (some kind of Italian squash).
    We used smaill pots and "premium" soil (the kind my local garden center use for hanging baskets for pubs and company, to be checked only every few months. It contains some fine vermiculite and compost, I think).
    I read somewhere that putting jars on the pots helps with germination, so now they are sitting on our window sill, not doing much at all. I sprayed the soil with water, lightly, every day.

    [​IMG]

    Do you think this is a good approach?
    Anything I should add to the soil?


    Also, some tomato seeds I bought came with Jiffy peat pellets and a tray, which sounds like a good solution.
    Do you think that germination rate is better with Jiffy pellets and a tray, rather than with pots and soil?
    Also, do the Jiffy pellets need watering/spraying during germination, or is the first soaking sufficient to keep the seedlings going?

    Thanks for any advice!

    Aldo
     
  2. pete

    pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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    Aldo, I think you would be better buying just a small electric propagator where you can control the temperature and grow in small pots for germination.
    That is not to say the methods you are using will not work, you will probably get germination, but it is much faster in a heated propagator.
    You can then put the pots out on the window sill as soon as you see a shoot appear.

    Cant say as I'm a fan of jiffy pellets.;)
     
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    • CanadianLori

      CanadianLori Total Gardener

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      I don't care much for the jiffy pots either.

      The reasoning behind putting jars on the pots is to keep the moistre in and still allow the sunlight in. You need to scrub off those labels.

      If your seed packets states number of days to germinate/sprout, you can write that in marker on the glass and perhaps the date sown. That way you at least know at a glance when to expect some activity.
       
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      • CanadianLori

        CanadianLori Total Gardener

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        @Aldo forgot to say that if you use the jiffy pots please cut off the meshy stuff that keeps it's shape before potting up or planting out because that stuff confines the roots and does not disintegrate. I'm guessing that's why I'm not a big fan because I did have success with them years ago for starting seeds.
         
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        • Aldo

          Aldo Super Gardener

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          Thanks Pete!
          Is variable temperature crucial?
          Most affordable propagators I saw on Amazon seem to lack temperature control.

          I have also read a thread about having seeds germinating by soaking, so perhaps I could give that a go too..
          Germinating seeds quickly
           
        • Aldo

          Aldo Super Gardener

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          Good advice, thanks Lori!

          I kept the labels on because they only cover part of the jar and the back is white and reflective. So I thought I could increase temperature and sun exposure by turning them away for the window, or shade the seedling by turning the label to the window. But perhaps it is a silly idea :)

          Thanks for mentioning the need to remove the mesh from the Jiffy thingies upon planting. This is actually something I wanted to ask about.
          Any tips on doing so without damaging the roots, though?

          Last year all my plants came as plugs, with a similar mesh.
          I removed it from the first few I potted, but the roots were so entangled in it that I damaged them, so I left it on with all the other plants.
          The damage was real, because the affected plants grew visibly slower than the others. But then, when I dug them all out at the end of the season, the mesh was still there, so, like you say, it does not degrade as it should.
           
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          • Aldo

            Aldo Super Gardener

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            By the way, do you think that adding Mycorrhiza (beneficial fungii in granules) to the seedlings pots might help?
            I use it when potting plugs and bare roots and it seems to help a lot.
             
          • Aldo

            Aldo Super Gardener

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            Well, four seedlings came out today.
            20% success rate for the moment, hopefully tomorrow will bring more!
             
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            • john558

              john558 Super Gardener

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              Keep going Aldo. I agree the labels need to come off the jars to get more light to the seeds.
               
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              • CanadianLori

                CanadianLori Total Gardener

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                @Aldo I just ripped the casings with my fingers and I didn't wait too long to do it. Once a lot of roots come out, you've no way of not damaging them.
                 
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                • pete

                  pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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                  Well you can spend all kinds of money but I think just a basic propagator with a thermostat is a good idea.
                  Failing that, large seeds can be put on damp kitchen towel and germinated in the airing cupboard if you have one.
                  You would need to check twice daily and pot them up as soon as they show signs of growth.

                  As to Mycorrhiza, I'm not sure, its one of those things which is difficult to prove one way or the other without a comparison.
                   
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                  • Aldo

                    Aldo Super Gardener

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                    Thanks John, i will remove them then!
                    While I was digging in the garden, three more came out, they must be looking forward to moving to their new pots :)
                     
                  • Aldo

                    Aldo Super Gardener

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                    Thanks Pete,
                    I do not have an airing cupboard, but my steamer trays does look suspiciously similar to the "seed sprouter" in that thread.
                    I might give it a go with that.
                    Or perhaps not..
                    Our windowsill and half of the dining table are taken over by seedling and strawberries. I am planning a temporary windowsill extension with some shelviing to put more and have them catch more sunlight. In the meanwhile, part of our tiny living room floor is taken by boxes with shiitake and oyster mushrooms in development.
                    My wife last comment was "How about you put mushrooms even under our bed?". I actually did consider the question with interest for a moment, before perceiving the not so veiled sarcastic tone to it.

                    I fear me repurposing the steamer might be the last straw, somebody might turn it on full power while I am not looking..
                     
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                    • Aldo

                      Aldo Super Gardener

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                      Thanks Lori, I will remove it as soon as they start developing then, and move the plants to normal pots.
                       
                    • Mike Allen

                      Mike Allen Total Gardener

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                      Hi Aldo. Gardening is so interesting. It has it's up's and downs, all the time we are learning. Please may I most respectfully comment upon your venture.

                      Basically by you using glass jars on top of pots. You are in fact attemping to imitate a mini glasshouse. Yes as Pete said, why not use an electric propogator? This cames back basically to you or me trying to create a minature controlled enviroment. Personnaly I stick to a standard size seed tray, perhaps to save time procking out, I may use cell trays. Soak compost, and let drain. Sow seeds and cover with a sheet of glass. Check and clean glass daily, after a few say, prop the glass up a bit. When germination is visible to a good degree. Remove the glass. Protect the seedlings from harmful sun rays and heat, water if and when from below. Please enjoy your gardening.
                       
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