Sunday, April 13, 2014

It's ALL in the Timing


My garden is (relatively) new and I’m still struggling with timing.  It seems that in almost every case I either start seeds too early (last year’s squash plants were way too big by the time I could transplant them outside) or, more often than not, I start them too late.  Sometimes it’s a case of seeds not germinating or taking a looooooong time to germinate (like my struggle with Peppers that I wrote about HERE).  Other times, I simply go based on what I have read in books or the internet about when to sow seeds but then later realize that the timing simply doesn’t work for my growing conditions.  Regardless of the reason, it's almost always a learning experience.

Case in point.  This year, I am growing spinach for the 1st time (Starting Some Greens).  On the same day that I started the spinach seeds, I also sowed rapini and Chinese cabbage seeds.
This is what the rapini & Chinese cabbage looks like now:
Lots of Little Rapini & Chinese Cabbage Seedlings

And this is what my spinach looks like:



Spinach - Still Waiting for Lift Off
I had placed the spinach seeds in a paper towel to pre-germinate.  Then proceeded to put the baggie on the heat mat with all the other seeds I was pre-germinating.  One week goes by and no germination – so I start to do a little research.  I found that I have already made two mistakes.

Mistake #1 – I should have soaked the seeds in water first.  Online folks were soaking them for different amounts of time from 2 hours to 24 hours – I decided to go with a 24 hour soak for the 2nd batch of seeds.

Mistake #2 – Too much heat – I knew that spinach was a cool weather crop.  But most seeds germinate better at temperatures that are warmer than those in which they prefer to grow, so I just slapped that baggie onto the heat mat without a second thought.  Now I find out that spinach will not germinate at temperatures higher than around 24°C (75°F).  Oops.

So I figure I would divide the second group of seeds into two subgroups & try a couple of different things.  The seeds in both groups were soaked in water for 24 hours, then rolled in damp paper towels & placed into little zip lock bags.

Group #1 - I simply placed the baggie in the basement were the ambient temperature is 19°C (66°F).  That’s it.

Group #2 – I read that placing the seeds in the refrigerator for a day could speed up germination, so I decided to try that for this group of seeds.  After a 24 hour chill in the fridge, I placed the seeds in the basement.

Now we wait.  The original seeds were started on April 3rd, so I feel as if I have been waiting forever already.  Oh yes, about those original seeds – I removed them from the heat mat as soon as I realized my mistake and placed them on the lid of the tray that is currently on the heat mat.  The ambient temperature on this spot is around 22°C (71°F).  Yesterday one of these seeds germinated.  I suppose 9 days isn’t so bad – It just FELT like a really long time.

As you can see,  I have been going crazy with my thermometer which I placed in a zip lock to protect it from moisture.


My thermometer telling me that my basement is a cool 19.3°C (67°F)
I am convinced that some of my seed starting woes have been because of heat issues – mainly too much heat as I am coming to realize.

Till next time….

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

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