Sowing seeds too early.

Discussion in 'Edible Gardening' started by Steve R, Jan 27, 2018.

  1. Steve R

    Steve R Soil Furtler

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    Sowing seeds too early.

    If your relatively new to sowing seeds, then carry on reading, everyone else already knows the following.

    If your seed packet tells you to sow seeds in March/April, this is because it is the time of year that will give you best results. In March/April, days will be longer and daylight hours increasing every day than they will be in January/February. The seed producer has taken this into account so you can get the best possible germination of your seed and then the plants can grow on ever stronger in the daily increasing light levels and also warmth.

    He also knows that for the most part that by the time a seed has germinated, grown into a seeding and on into a good strong small plant, ready to go into the garden, that the majority of cold weather will have passed and your plants (his seeds) will have the best chance to thrive.

    So the above is my view on seed packet timings.

    Ok, so the following all confuses the above details.

    Many gardeners have specialist knowledge, propogation devices and lighting, this allows the gardener to "cheat" the system from the back of the seed packet, he/she has over a number of years made many mistakes that in turn have increased his/her knowledge, they have themselves created their own unique methods of growing plants that work for them. For example they may just have only one windowsill in their whole house that is suitable to grow seeds on or they might have a heated propogating table in their heated greenhouse or polytunnel, set up with irrigation or misting devices.

    You will watch gardening programes on TV, see videos on You Tube or photos here of gardeners plants, someone will have cosmos or tomato plants (for example) 18 inches tall but good strong plants, and you will look at your own as comparison, 2 inches tall, struggling and feeling very sorry for themselves, yet you have followed the seed packet instructions to the letter. Over time you find out that they started their plants earlier and next year you try the same yourself and further doom and gloom sets itself upon you.

    If there is not enough warth for your newly sown seeds, your compost remains cold and wet, your seeds now stand a good chance of rotting making you think that perhaps the seeds are bad, you go and buy more, different variety and supplier and find a warmer place to raise your seed. Lo and behold it is much warmer and germination happens and your seed starts racing for the sky, literally...

    The early sown seeds are now growing up spindly, they are etiated, desperate for light they race ever upwards to try and find it only to tire themselves out and become weak from it, they should be making good roots first and a strong plant from that, they need to photosynthesize. The early sown seed is doomed as it cannot do this. Now the seedling runs the risk of "damping off", this is where it just collapses because it is weak and a soil borne virus will attack it, it can succumb quite quickly to this. Some will make it through, you can deep plant most etiated seedlings to overcome the initial problem, but a later sown seed will probably outgrow or out perform it.

    If however you still want to try and sow seeds earlier than recommended on the seed packet, try the following.

    Buy your chosen seeds.
    Decide how many plants you want from that seed, double it and save that many seeds to follow seed packet instructions with later on.
    Remaining seed can now be used for testing, sow a couple a week, every week for 4 weeks prior to seed sowing time on seed packet.
    Label and date all.
    Monitor and write down your results, noting weather and temperature where they are sown.
    This will increase your knowledge/experience without endangering your whole crop.

    Please do add to this topic if you can, but please keep it "on topic", maybe later all comments can be combined into a useful piece/article by someone for the whole of GC members to view early in the season to save those new to seed sowing time money and effort. We see the same problems every year, hopefully this can cut down on some of them and help members get growing, better and faster.

    Steve...:)
     
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    • Freddy

      Freddy Miserable git, well known for it

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      A very good and useful post Steve :thumbsup:
       
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      • Phil A

        Phil A Gardener

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        Nice one Steve :)

        All I would add is that if you sit your bare bum on the soil and it makes you go :yikes:

        Then it's too cold for sowing :)
         
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        • silu

          silu gardening easy...hmmm

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          :goodpost: @Steve R . Indeed I am a little worried about my Anya seed potatoes which unlike all the other varieties I got, I had to buy in a bag ie not loose. The bag had obviously been somewhere slightly warm as the tubers have already started to sprout a wee bit which is hell of an early for me up here in Scotland. I am going to rub out some of the eyes and delay the sprouts getting too long and spindly before I can safely plant them out. All the other seed potatoes are fine.
          To add to your advice re being too early to sow unless you have the right equipment/ conditions to do so I would add to be careful about buying bedding plants too early. The majority will have been forced in Holland and never seen the outside world prior to being purchased. It suits supermarkets and garden centres to stock early especially if post purchase the weather turns hellish and people's purchases are ruined as that is likely to produce a repeat purchase:rolleyespink:. Leave bedding plants in the care or otherwise:yikes: of the sellers until you are pretty certain that any fear of frost has passed.
           
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          • BeeHappy

            BeeHappy Total Gardener

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            :ThankYou: for that advice ZIGgerr :huh:


            just wish you'd warned me



            earlier:panic:

            :lunapic 130165696578242 5:
             
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            • ARMANDII

              ARMANDII Low Flying Administrator Staff Member

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              I've made this into a sticky thread, Steve..:snorky:
               
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              • Mark56

                Mark56 Super Gardener

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                We do it every year don't we! Too eager to begin the process and end up with weak, leggy seedlings :blue thumb:
                 
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                • JWK

                  JWK Gardener

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                  Very useful information Steve :blue thumb:
                   
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