An infallible way to germinate seeds?

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John Yeoman
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An infallible way to germinate seeds?

Postby John Yeoman » Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:38 pm

Have you ever wished that your garden plants would germinate a lot faster? Some seeds like parsley, cilantro (coriander), sea kale, even spring onions, seem to take forever before we see any shoots appear above ground. The answer, of course, is to pre-germinate those seeds before you sow them.

You might find this idea useful. First, take a plastic margarine tub with a lid. Second, fill it to an inch of the brim with perlite or vermiculite. They're sterile and, although an investment, can be re-used endlessly. (Just run boiling water through them for a few minutes.)

Third, soak the perlite (etc) with water and tip away surplus water. Now scatter your seeds on top. Tiny seeds like onions need just a sprinkling of perlite dust on top. Big seeds can be sunk a half inch deep.

Fourth, re-moisten the surface gently and replace the lid. Put the pot somewhere warm. (Note: your airing cupboard is too hot! But around 75-85F will germinate anything.)

The very moment a speck of green or a crooked shoot appears above the perlite, take off the cover and place the pot on a bright windowsill. Mist the surface with room temperature water and mist every day thereafter till you see one pair of leaves.

To transplant the seedlings into pots, don't grub around their roots! Just toss the perlite onto a sheet of newspaper gently and pick out the seedlings by their leaves. The perlite falls away and you'll find that every seedling will retain amazingly long unbroken roots.

Then drop the roots into a hole in a compost-filled pot.

Amazingly, it works. You can germinate any seed this week in seven days, even parsley. (Alas, it doesn't work for coconuts. They must float in the sea for three years...) :D
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Monika
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Re: An infallible way to germinate seeds?

Postby Monika » Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:13 pm

Sounds a good idea, John. I already do something similar to this with parsnip seeds (known as the Johboy method, from this Forum) but have never tried it with other seeds. Will give it a go this year.
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Re: An infallible way to germinate seeds?

Postby John Yeoman » Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:37 pm

Monika wrote:Sounds a good idea, John. I already do something similar to this with parsnip seeds (known as the Johboy method, from this Forum) but have never tried it with other seeds. Will give it a go this year.


Thanks, Monika. One extra tip I discovered the hard way: you have to rush those just-germinated seedlings into the light the very hour their first sign of stem appears above the perlite. Otherwise, before you know it, the seedlings are four inches tall, falling over and useless!
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Re: An infallible way to germinate seeds?

Postby Johnboy » Fri Jan 21, 2011 9:02 am

Hi John,
I use Vermiculite but can see that Perlite is equally as good. I use Polythene bags and Vermiculite and this is moistened (never saturated) and the seeds inserted and the bag is then blown-up like a balloon making a kind of biome and then all placed in a warm place. An airing cupboard is ideal but modern houses do not have the same hot water systems and do not have a cylinder housing (Airing cupboard) so quite where will give the even temperature required is at present beyond me.
I had a friend who had tried several times to germinate Skirret and it was through this method that she finally had success.
If you read this Mo please get in touch as I have lost all your details when computer decided to blow up!
JB.
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Re: An infallible way to germinate seeds?

Postby John Yeoman » Fri Jan 21, 2011 9:49 am

Perlite or vermiculite are certainly the most reliable base but once, as an experiment, I used pearl barley - which is dead seed. Of course, it rots after seven days but by then the seedlings you really want should have germinated.

Other inert media might also work eg. crushed charcoal.

A tip: don't be tempted to use grit or pea gravel. It can wreck the seedling stems when you toss them out!
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Re: An infallible way to germinate seeds?

Postby Johnboy » Fri Jan 21, 2011 10:27 am

Hi John,
I found with the Vermiculite method with Skirret you can see any germinations through the polythene bag and you carefully empty the entire contents into an awaiting seed tray already prepared and simply sieve some compost over the top and mist spray. As seedling appear they are transplanted at the two leaf stage. I find that most things only need the heat to germinate and once germinated the heat is not needed.
JB.
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Re: An infallible way to germinate seeds?

Postby John Yeoman » Fri Jan 21, 2011 10:41 am

I must try that with skirret. I've always wanted to grow it. (Apparently, you have to mark the plant with a stick or - come autumn - you'll never find those spindly roots!)

It's certainly a good idea to germinate the seeds, using perlite (etc), in a clear container like a cut-down cola bottle with a plastic baggie over it. Then, when the seedlings come up, they grow green quickly and you can see when to take them out. Otherwise, you forget (at least, I do)... and a week later you unseal a tubful of pale lanky sprouts, useful only for stir-fries.
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Re: An infallible way to germinate seeds?

Postby Johnboy » Fri Jan 21, 2011 10:59 am

Hi John,
Living where I do we get a fair amount of snow each year and I mark rows of vegetables left in the ground by using stakes and running out a line over the crops in question. I always have a detailed plan as to what is where.
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Re: An infallible way to germinate seeds?

Postby RoRo » Fri Feb 25, 2011 12:47 pm

I have successfully germinated my spring onions, ishykuro & leeks using the methods above and now have 1 to 2 inch spindly seedlings.

What next please ????

I do not necessarily want to transplant outside yet, so should I transplant into seed trays keeping about an inch or so apart ??

With the leek seedlings is it too early to start blanching or can I safely make a deeper hole to drop the seedling into ??

Usually I plant straight into the soil - but this method has given much better germination so many thanks for the initial advice.

Roger
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