Nothing is more frustrating then when you can not seem to get your vegetable seeds to germinate. You get excited for gardening season to roll around, have your vegetable seeds ready to go, plant them in some soil, wait, and nothing happens. There could be a number of factors as to why this could be. Here are some suggestions to help with maximizing the germination of your Vegetable Seeds.
It all starts with the soil. Well, actually it starts with the seed but we already know that . While I like to use soil from my own garden to start my seeds (more on that in a moment), there is nothing wrong with using a good quality seed starting soil. This type of soil, which can be found at any home or garden center for just a few bucks, is specially formulated to give your seeds everything they need to grow. If you are big on organic growing techniques there are plenty of organic seed starting soils as well and those expanding seed pods work great also.
As I noted earlier I like to use the soil from my own garden to start my seeds. Here is why. For starters, my plants will eventually end up there anyway, and I believe, although I have not conducted any official scientific testing, that the young plants will acclimate much better if they are already growing in the soil in which they will spend their entire growing season. Next, I work hard at making sure my soil gets a good supply of nutrients through various composting techniques. I would hate to do all that work and not be able to use it on day one. Finally, when I do use my own garden soil, since I start most of my seeds indoors, I like to have my soil be inside for a couple of days to warm up. It does the seeds a world of good.
For most seed varieties you will want to start them indoors. This gives you a head start in the colder months so that when it does eventually warm up outside you can move grown plants outdoors. This becomes especially helpful to those with shorter growing seasons. While I would not classify New Jersey as having a short growing season, it is nice to put ten to twelve inch tomato plants in the ground on May first. The only types of seeds I do not start indoors are root crops, i.e. radish, carrots, turnips etc.
Now that we have our soil and are starting our seeds indoors, we need to create an environment that is suitable for growth. There are two challenges. The first is light and the second is heat. Both of which can be handled very easily.
Let’s start with light. For me it is fairly easy. By the time February rolls around we receive plenty of sunlight. This makes it easy to simply put my newly planted seeds in front of a window that receives sunlight first thing in the morning. If you can get 6 to 8 hours that should be plenty. If not, consider supplementing with a grow light. You can pick them up at pet stores in the fish isle. They sell them to help aquatic plant life grow and can cost anywhere from a couple of dollars to nearly a hundred dollars, depending on how fancy you want to get. You can also find them at garden centers and of course online. Make sure you select the lights that are U/V and rated for plant growth.
Next, heat. You could invest in growing heat pads and plant heaters if you live in very cold climates but for most of us, simply covering your seedlings with a propagation dome, a constant temperate condition will be created which is optimal for your seeds. Your propagation dome can be purchased in a store, or you can simply make one out of any clear plastic container such as a used 2 liter soda bottle. A propagation dome is nothing more than a small version of a greenhouse. When the enclosed space heats up the heat is absorbed by the soil which helps the seed and at night when the enclosed space starts to cool, the heat from the soil is released. This process helps keep a constant temperature.
Of course none of the above will do you any good if the seeds you buy, suck. Buy your seeds from reputable companies. Reputable companies will ensure that the seeds you receive are all within a year of age and have been tested for germination rates exceeding 95%. Meaning 95 out of every 100 seeds germinated in their testing conditions.
Now go out and get some seeds and start growing some of your own food!
About the Author
Mike Podlesny is the author of Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the rest of us, the moderator for the largest vegetable gardening page on Facebook and creator of the Seeds Club.
|Watch the video below to learn more about Mike`s Seeds of the Month Club:|