Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Waiting Game - Seed Germination

The best crop of a garden, year after year, is hope.

And never is that more true than at seed starting time.  Some seeds require more patience than others.  Peas and beans may spring forth within a couple of days with a stout green cotyledon that promises shapely leaves almost immediately.  Onions and potatoes will put out roots and shoots while sitting on your pantry shelf.  Tiny seeds, eggplants for instance, are a waiting game...

I found this chart of what seeds to plant when on Pinterest and because the dates so closely match my own schedule I've kept it handy to keep me on track.  I start eggplants, peppers and tomatoes in the house.  The egg plants and peppers grow at a similar rate and will stay shorter than the tomatoes.  They get their own flat so I can adjust the grow lights to their height.  The leggy tomatoes will need the grow lights placed higher at a much earlier date.

I'm always hesitant to set up the grow lights because they take over a lot of space in our tiny house.  I have an old pine table that is the perfect size for two flats.  A vinyl table cloth protects the table.  I have a power strip with a built in timer so the lights and heating pads are on for 12 hours and off for twelve.

I started the eggplants on wet paper towels for two reasons.  Firstly, the seeds are quite old and I know they will not all germinate.  Starting them on the towels lets me easily spot the ones that are viable.  And secondly... eggplant seeds take FOREVER to germinate.  I have had to wait as long as two weeks for an eggplant seed to sprout.  Today is day seven and I have 3 out of 40 sprouting.  I only plan on planting 15 plants and of those I will keep 5 and give away whatever is left.

And THIS is all the bigger the sprout is on day 7.  If it were in a pot of soil I would still be waiting for visible proof.  Oh the suspense!  I just couldn't take it.  The wet towels are the only way to go.  Today I also planted pepper seeds (directly into pots) and next week I will start thinking about tomato seeds.

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