Sowing seeds too early.


Steve Randles

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Sowing seeds too early.

If your relatively new to sowing seeds, then carry on reading, everyone else already knows the following.

If your seed packet tells you to sow seeds in March/April, this is because it is the time of year that will give you best results. In March/April, days will be longer and daylight hours increasing every day than they will be in January/February. The seed producer has taken this into account so you can get the best possible germination of your seed and then the plants can grow on ever stronger in the daily increasing light levels and also warmth.

He also knows that for the most part that by the time a seed has germinated, grown into a seeding and on into a good strong small plant, ready to go into the garden, that the majority of cold weather will have passed and your plants (his seeds) will have the best chance to thrive.

So the above is my view on seed packet timings.

Ok, so the following all confuses the above details.

Many gardeners have specialist knowledge, propogation devices and lighting, this allows the gardener to "cheat" the system from the back of the seed packet, he/she has over a number of years made many mistakes that in turn have increased his/her knowledge, they have themselves created their own unique methods of growing plants that work for them. For example they may just have only one windowsill in their whole house that is suitable to grow seeds on or they might have a heated propogating table in their heated greenhouse or polytunnel, set up with irrigation or misting devices.

You will watch gardening programes on TV, see videos on You Tube or photos here of gardeners plants, someone will have cosmos or tomato plants (for example) 18 inches tall but good strong plants, and you will look at your own as comparison, 2 inches tall, struggling and feeling very sorry for themselves, yet you have followed the seed packet instructions to the letter. Over time you find out that they started their plants earlier and next year you try the same yourself and further doom and gloom sets itself upon you.

If there is not enough warth for your newly sown seeds, your compost remains cold and wet, your seeds now stand a good chance of rotting making you think that perhaps the seeds are bad, you go and buy more, different variety and supplier and find a warmer place to raise your seed. Lo and behold it is much warmer and germination happens and your seed starts racing for the sky, literally...

The early sown seeds are now growing up spindly, they are etiated, desperate for light they race ever upwards to try and find it only to tire themselves out and become weak from it, they should be making good roots first and a strong plant from that, they need to photosynthesize. The early sown seed is doomed as it cannot do this. Now the seedling runs the risk of "damping off", this is where it just collapses because it is weak and a soil borne virus will attack it, it can succumb quite quickly to this. Some will make it through, you can deep plant most etiated seedlings to overcome the initial problem, but a later sown seed will probably outgrow or out perform it.

If however you still want to try and sow seeds earlier than recommended on the seed packet, try the following.

Buy your chosen seeds.
Decide how many plants you want from that seed, double it and save that many seeds to follow seed packet instructions with later on.
Remaining seed can now be used for testing, sow a couple a week, every week for 4 weeks prior to seed sowing time on seed packet.
Label and date all.
Monitor and write down your results, noting weather and temperature where they are sown.
This will increase your knowledge/experience without endangering your whole crop.

Steve...
:)
:)
 
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zigs

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Good advice there Steve :)

Still doesn't stop a stir crazy gardener from having a go too early :giggle:
 
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I know what you're saying; I agree entirely, but, we can only stay inactive for so long, so what I propose is that we all try to learn what seeds suffer least, and we learn how to minimise the problems, so that we can get something going.
We just need to discover what, in our own areas, will suffer least from early planting, & content ourselves with that.
I really, really love this forum.
 
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Steve Randles

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I know what you're saying; I agree entirely, but, we can only stay inactive for so long, so what I propose is that we all try to learn what seeds suffer least, and we learn how to minimise the problems, so that we can get something going.
That is the last paragraph in the initial post, by year two greater knowledge has been obtained.

Steve..:)
 
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I had a good laugh from this post. Funny but an informative reminder of my newb indoor sowing days. Sounds like someone has just went through an ordeal and had a glimpse on how to overcome.

One thing I'd suggest is noting the suns height in the sky rather then daylight hours for indoor window sill germination that you speak of. Reason being is that more daylight hours on a window sill = less direct sunlight (which is bad for some strains) because the sun is higher in the sky during this phase. So planting earlier would actually be better for certain plants because you would have more direct light on them and that first month of growing can be the difference between living or death. (mainly applies to most herbs and flowers)

In other words 8 hours of direct light is better then 16 hours of indirect lighting at the germination stage with regards to keeping seedlings less straggly which could lead to them dying off. Mainly only applies to delicate plants tho, not veg.
 

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