Apr 16, 2010

Seeds and seedlings

Though I've become comfortable repotting plants, I always fear that my seeds would never ever germinate. Sometimes the seeds germinate in two or three days and sometimes they never do (the same seeds from same company). I am not sure if it is the problem with seeds or me not doing it right.

In 2008, all the sunflowers, cornflowers, Gaillardias, Pansies, and many others that I sowed germinated well, but I lost them all (well, almost all of them except very few) to the unexpected rains (http://inartliesmyheart.blogspot.com/2008_08_01_archive.html). I did a stupid mistake of sowing them all close and letting them grow thin and wobbly. Well, I was an amateur (not that I am an expert now, but at least better than what I was two years ago - thanks to great bloggers like Tina, Prue, Catherine, Randy and Jamie, and many others - I'd have to dedicate a separate post to mention all of them).

This year, my germination rate has been really poor so far. I was excited when I got packets of seeds from a nice-hearted friend from Germany but only a very few germinated. This time, I should blame myself for not doing something right with them.
Here's all that've germinated so far:
  • Balsam (Balsamina impatiens)
  • Sturts Pea (Swainsona formosa)
  • Sugar Melon (Can someone help me with its botanical name?)
  • White Gaura - Gaura lindheimeri
  • Another one, I don't remember the name :D
  • And this one, I seriously hope is the most-badly-wanted Grape Hyacinth - Muscari comosum (Can anyone confirm?)
I sowed many others this week and this time, instead of placing them in the terrace (where my watering could be a problem), I placed them below the tubelight in the hall (Good that we Indians use those white florescent tubelights in our homes).
  • Tomato 'Yellow Queen'
  • Strawberries (again, YES, I'm not ready to give up yet)
  • Zinnia
  • Dahlia (I'm not giving up on these either!)
  • Green Beans (God! What was I thinking? Am I be brave enough to grow veggies?)
  • Cayenne Long Pepper
  • Canarina canariensis ex Tenerife
  • Borage
  • Black-eyed Susan (Thurnbergia)

The balsam and co that germinated in small cells were drying out due to the lack of space. They didn't give out more than four/three leaves. The Tomato 'Yellow Queen' seedlings died! I thought it was time that I transplanted them, but was not sure if I should transplant them directly into the pots so I decided to transplant them into paper cups, where they'd spend their time for two more weeks and then move on to their final destinations.
I made three holes at the bottom of the pot, filled them up with my coco peat + sand + compost mix, made a two inch hole in the centre.
Then I scooped up the seedlings with a spoon from the cells after pressing them from the bottom to loosen the soil.
Look at how much growth the seedling has put up in so little a time!
Plopped them into the hole in the paper cups, pressed the soil gently, water them and we're done!
I hope they all grow into adults! Palms enjoined (Well, that's the Indian version of fingers crossed :D)!
(The above one is the White Gaura) 
And today, one of the Dahlia seeds showed up a green stem, it's yet-to-be opened cotyledons still buried into the soil. I was so excited and a small tiny reed-like seedling emerged from the soil. I hope it is Aristolochia which is what I sowed in it. There's no chance that it could be anything else as there's no soil for weeds in the cups. But does an Aristolochia seedling look like a tiny reed? Tiny as in less than a centimeter tiny.
Oh, I almost forgot about the Black Gram (Vigna mungo) that I sowed more than a week ago and it germinated within three days! The germination was 99%! I plant to use it with my tomatoes as a cover crop. I'm not sure if cover crop concept would be effective in containers, but this is gonna be a trail. I also bought carrot seeds yesterday and I think I have Summer version of radishes somewhere in the seeds box. I plant to grow them together in pots using tissue papers - I learnt of the seed tapes yesterday and read that it's useful while growing carrots to avoid some virus (am I correct?) infection. I also am planning to grow Black eyed peas to plant with my veggies in future. Any of you have an idea if cover crops would good in containers? I think they should theoretically, but is it remarkable?
 (The leaves are a lush green and look so fresh! Lover of flowers at heart than vegetables, I am excited to see its blooms)
And here, is the picture of my first tomato (if at all there's some other already forming that missed my eye). Isn't he cute? Veggie growers must think I'm bonkers, but hey this is my first official vegetable!
I think the curl that I was talking about in one of my past posts is due to potassium deficiency or could also be deficiency of micro nutrients which reduced Potassium intake. I saw that there were purplish venation at the bottom of the elder leaves.
Have a busy weekend everyone!


Marion said...

Your plants look very nice and healthy. I know what you mean about seeds. I had given up on my Moonflowers (which usually sprout in two to three weeks at most) and put the little container with seeds in it outside. A few weeks later I went out and there were 2 baby Moonflowers! I also got a bad batch of Sunflower seeds for the first time ever. Not one seed sprouted! Good luck with your babies. Thanks for sharing. Blessings!

tina said...

Wow, you educated me this afternoon on potassium deficiency. Very thorough investigation with that veination. Seed are tricky. I have a whole book on what to do and not to do so as to be successful. One kind (forget me nots) needs complete darkness and a temperature of 50 degrees F for like three weeks before it will germinate. Talk about picky! It's hard to have a 'one size fits all' for all seeds. Trial and error and research is the way to learn as you know but I'd say you have very good success with the seeds you have sown. And CONGRATS on your first tomato.

Chandramouli S said...

Thank you, Marion. Sometimes the seeds that we so carefully take care wouldn't germinate but those we thrown away in neglect would germinate oh-so quickly as in your case. The same happened to Gaillardias last year for me. But as Tina pointed out, we learn and unlearn many things when it comes to seed germination and it takes lots of trials to perfect the art - of course with some percentage of luck.

Glad that this post was of some use, Tina :D. When I discovered the veins on the bottom of the leaves I was scared that it might be a viral infection and started poring through many different websites for it. Though many forums and websites listed the same - K deficiency, I just wanted to be sure :D
In fact no matter how many times I fail with seeds, I never would wanna give up, because you learn tricks as you try different things and growing and seeing your plants flower and fruit is the best thing. Like seeing your babies grow and get married and beget offspring!
I hope this grows up to a juicy 'mato and more are on the way!
Oh, how I wish I could get a hand on that book!
Have a great day!

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

This was really interesting. I noticed the purple veining on a couple of my tomato seedlings recently, I've just repotted them myself. I'm always a bit nervous repotting things too, I'm afraid I'll over water them once they are in a bigger pot.
How exciting that you have a tomato. You won't believe how good it tastes when you've grown it from seed yourself! :)
I hope the reed seedling is your Dahlia!

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

Your seedlings are beautiful, they look very healthy and well grown. And the tomato is too cute for words and no you are not bonkers, I have been told I am bonkers because I love the smell of the tomato leaves! Only gardeners would understand, I even make candles that are tomato leaf scented.

Your blog is very interesting and your enthusiasm shows.

Chandramouli S said...

Luckily overwatering is seldom a problem here as the soil gets dried up quickly. Apply any fertilizer (organic/inorganic) that contains micro nutrients which helps potassium intake and of course that which contains potassium too. Oh, I can't wait to taste the berry!
Erm, the reed seedling I think is Aristolochia and I hope it is that :) Three Dahlias have germinated now! YAY! And the green beans too. I am oh-so excited!

Iowa Gardening Woman: Thanks for making me feel normal :) Tomato scented candles? Wow! Sounds cool.

prue said...

Oh Wow Chandramouli you have such a good start there, and one new little tomato already! I will be eagerly checking into your blog for its progress (no more tomatoes here until Spring!!!) Good luck with the germination. I know it can be hard, and annoying when they don't germinate easily. But keep trying, and experimenting and they will hopefully germinate and prosper. You should be fine with the cornflowers and sunflowers too, they seem to work well even when I neglect them!

Anonymous said...

Dear Chandramouli, Your posting confirms to me what a science the germination of seeds is and, also, confims why I never try. I should never have your level of patience, although I do accept that I shall not know the thrill which you express so well of nurturing one's first plant from a tiny seed.

Autumn Belle said...

I experience the same problems with seeds over here. Quite often of the time, the seeds sold in packets don't germinate at all. Sometimes, I reuse the soil for the plants on the ground and surprise, the seeds germinated out of nowhere! I often buy seedlings where I can see the bloom colour as well. However, I do enjoy the tremendous joy of seeing seeds germinate into successful baby plants, so I'm not giving up yet.

Rose said...

Chandramouli, you are way ahead of me in the science of seed starting! Your seedlings look great, and congratulations on your first tomato! I've had better luck than usual with starting seeds indoors, but even so there were some seeds that didn't germinate at all. As Tina said, some prefer cold and complete darkness to start with, and others need to have their seeds nicked a little to open them up, so to speak. I didn't do either one, so the "picky" seeds didn't make it. It will be another few weeks before I can plant them outside (we had a frost last night!), so I've got my fingers crossed they'll make it.

Anne Fannie said...

All your seeds are coming along nicely. Its such a good feeling to grow them from seed. I like to use peat moss pots for my little plants, the ones that you can just drop into the soil so that I do not disturb the young roots when planting.

Anonymous said...

thank you for you to make me learn more,thank you∩0∩

Rebecca @ In The Garden said...

Oh Chandramouli! Your little tomato is so adorable!!! I like your system of a small scoop to lift the seedlings into their cups. Great pictures. :)

Chandramouli S said...

Prue: Thank you. I hope I harvest lots from that plant! I heard you get tomatoes that grow year round? Have you tried them?

Edith Hope: May be you should try, Edith. It's so satisfying and worth the wait. To encourage yourself, you can try easy ones like beans, sunflowers, dahlias...

Autumn Belle: Hi-Five! We shouldn't give up nonetheless!

Rose: I would say you're so methodical and seeds that I sow seem to have a mind of their own :D

Anne Fannie: Right Said Anne! We don't get pear moss here unfortunately, but I use the paper cups because for plants that don't like their roots disturbed, I simply cut the bottom and top and plant them, if I am unable to peel the sides.

函佩政松: Hi, Welcome to Plantville. I'm glad my post was informative to you.

Rebecca: Isn't he, Rebecca! Chweet baby he is and many more are showing up already! Thank you :)

Thomas said...

Very interesting. I can't wait to see these seedlings grow. Your tomato plant looks fine to me...although this is my first time growing them and I am by no means an expert.

I did notice that the tomato plants that I started super early this year aren't doing quite as well as the ones that I started a few weeks later. The leaves on my super early tomatoes are curling as well. I guess it's time for another feeding of fertilizer.

walk2write said...

Your garden is looking better than ever with the repotting and addition of new plants, Chandramouli. I hope your veggies are productive for you. Nothing tastes better than the stuff you can grow yourself. You have become quite the scientist with the study of mineral deficiencies and such! I am going to bookmark this post so I can remember what to add when (not if) my plants look like this.

James Missier said...

Somehow I find growing from seeds in my garden is quite a feat.
The best ones that grows well by seeds are wishbone flowers & madagascar periwinkle - they are the best winners.
The rest I plant by cuttings and plantlets.

Good luck in seeing your plants mature.

Christine B. said...

You seem like a fearless gardener growing so many things from seed that are new to you. I guess patience goes along with that, things don't grow as quick as we'd like, no? The baby tomato is as cute as a button! I will enjoy reading about your adventures.

Christine in Alaska

Chandramouli S said...

Thomas: Growing Tomatoes is fun, isn't it! It's my first time too! It's contagious.

James: May be you should keep trying, James and and you'd find the key parameter that'd help most of your seeds germinate.

Christine: Thank you for the kind words and yes, I LoooooVE growing plants from seeds and if I could, I'd do all my plants from seeds. As you said, yes, it requires patience, which I seem to have little (but not enough though). Glad you like the blog :)

~Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

Palms enjoined for all your seedlings! You did a great job getting the step by step photos.

Chandramouli S said...

Gardener on Sherlock Street: Thank you :). Welcome to Plantville!

Anonymous said...

Such a wonderful blog with so many beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing with us. I am especially happy with your blog because there are not many gardening bloggers from India, especially Chennai.

Can you please tell me where you buy your fertilizers etc in Chennai ? I want some with pottasium because my yellow allamanda is showing pottasium deficieny. I live in Anna Nagar.

Thanks and regards,