Northern Exposure

Triumphs and failures on a window ledge.

Seed Sowing April 13, 2009

Filed under: Colour,Flower,Indoor,Seeds,Spring,Summer,Weekend Work — northernwindowgardener @ 5:33 pm
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Seeded Seed Pots

Seeded Seed Pots

I get the feeling that I take an overly scientific approach to gardening and it’s this that is the source of both my success and failures.

Seed sowing is a good example. Generally I carefully read the packet to find the time of year to sow them and the conditions they prefer – mostly to see if they need to be covered by a little sifted soil or just pressed gently to make contact. Then if there’s anything left unsaid I might scout around on the internet to see if I can get the missing info. This results in a range of advice, often conflicting, so I need to make a few decisions.

Once I have a set of conditions there’s a near-religious observance. Each seed will be sowed in exactly the same manner and after-care will be carried out in strict accordance with the instructions (unless of course I leave the seeds in a heated propagator in front of a very sunny window!) Basically my modus operandi is that of a white-coated lab assistant – preparing the seed trials for future rating.

However like anyone who follows something dogmatically I can be a bit slow to adapt. If only half the seeds germinate then I’m more likely to try again, blaming a minor error rather than the method. For instance it’s too much of a leap to go from covered seed one time to leaving it uncovered the next – despite the fact that it might produce better results and I have nothing to lose. If the instructions or advice tells me to do it a certain way then I’m sticking to it. After all these people are experts aren’t they?

And so that’s why I find myself on a gloriously sunny Easter day – minus the white coat but very much in ‘seed trial’ mode – hunched over, writing labels, reading packets, weighing the variables, deliberating, then finally popping some seeds into rows of little one inch square soil-filled pots. Then looking around for the sieve and tapping away to cover all these potential plants – more taps for the 3mm cover seeds than the 1mm cover of course 😉

Before you say it, I know that I should loosen up, but we all have our way don’t we? 😉

Neatly covered seeds

Neatly covered seeds

Since I needed to clean out the propagator and start again from scratch I’ve decided to try the Sweet Pea again – but this time I have chipped five seeds and left five un-chipped to see if this makes a difference to their germination. More science experiments!

Ten pots are filled with Nemesia which I had quickly forgotten were such tiny seeds. Each pot has two or three seeds in it. Ten more have Busy Lizzy or Impatiens if you prefer. Only one seedling survived the heatstroke so we’ll see if that was the problem or if there was something else. There are about two seeds to a pot here as they’re a little bigger.

Despite my continued failure to get Asters to germinate (or survive after buying a really nice one last year) I’m giving them one last go with a different variety. This one is called China Aster although as they were an impulse buy from a Lidl store (28p a packet!) anything that comes from them will be regarded as a bonus. At the same time I picked up a packet of Convolvulus seeds. This really was impulse buying at its worst as I didn’t even properly read the pack to see if they were suitable for a window box – especially since I’m hyper-sensitive to anything over six inches getting wind battered. I looked at the picture instead and thought – “they’re pretty!”  The illustration on the back showing the use of a trellis is a bit ominous to say the least!

Maybe I’m not actually as scientific about this as I like to think.

The new seed home

The new seed home

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3 Responses to “Seed Sowing”

  1. Glo Says:

    Your writing is a delight and a pleasure to read, with its subtle humour and insights into your gardening world. Much luck with your recent experiments 🙂

  2. Flighty Says:

    I’ve not, as yet, really got into sowing seed like this indoors only directly into the ground.
    It also seems to me to be the ‘black art’ of gardening with plenty of weird and wonderful ways of doing it.
    I soak my sweet pea seeds overnight and discard any that haven’t swollen in size. Mind you it’s said that doing this shocks them and produces weaker plants!
    As Glo says good luck!

  3. Flighty – ah, I’d read something about soaking Sweet Pea seeds but many more bits of advice that didn’t mention it so I went with the chipping instead. There’s always next time!
    Glo – that’s very kind of you. Fingers crossed – clipboard at the ready.


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