Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Seed germination photolog

A reader has asked that I reprise photos and comments on germinating small seeds in our dry climate. Between winds, intense sun and sometimes warm temperatures like the past 80 degree F weekend, germinating small seeds can be difficult.

Small seeds such as lettuce, radish, endive, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, rappini, mizuna and others are covered with only a thin layer of soil at planting. This leaves them subject to death from rapid surface drying as seed germinates. Solutions are frequent light watering in combination with a seed germinaiton blanket. Here's how to use seed germination blankets.

1. Needed supplies include seed, row cover fabric available at garden centers, U pins bent from wire and a garden trowel or tool to make a fine soil surface on the seedbed.

2. Plant small seed such as lettuce by just barely covering with soil. Burying small seed too deep will prevent germination. Lay down row cover fabric over planted seed.

3. Secure row cover fabric by pushing wire U pins through the fabric and into the soil. Bury sides of fabric with soil for further protection from blowing in winds.

4. Water through the row cover fabric. Fabric slows evaporation from soil surface helping seed germination. It also prevents birds from eating seed.

5. Germinated lettuce seedlings visible through wet row cover fabric. Time to remove the fabric that has served its purpose as a temporary mulch for the seed germination period.

6. Fabric removed, Seed germination success!

7. Proceed to grow a successful crop watering more frequently when seedlings are small and cutting back as plants grow more roots. Good eating!

Photo credit: All photos - Carl Wilson

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