Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Generic Instructions

This is a generic set of instructions for those seeds which do not require specific handling. Most seeds I sell will grow given the following treatment.

Pretreatments.

Larger seeds (over 2mm) may be soaked in hand hot water overnight to speed up germination. Very hard coated seeds may be soaked in a dilute solution of Saltpetre made up as per the directions given under the pretreatment leaflet.

Smaller seeds need no pretreatment.

Sowing (Traditional Method)

Sow in a moist (not wet - a test is to squeeze a handful and if more than a few drops of water come out, then it is too wet), good quality seed compost, barely covering the seed in the case of large seeds and with small seeds sow on the surface and, if able, press them in (but no more). Place in a propagator or seal in a plastic bag and keep at 18 – 28 Deg C. Germination for most types should be fairly rapid (3 – 4 weeks or so), although it can take some time for all of the seeds to germinate. The following types can take up to 8 weeks to germinate – Aralia, Cussonia,Fatsia & Ficus. Above all else, unless you are certain that the seeds are not going to show (mould, algae or thick moss on the surface of the pot), persevere. Seeds have inbuilt survival mechanisms that will prevent germination unless conditions are right and may wait months before doing anything if sown at the wrong time. With modern advances in lighting, heating etc for plant raising, seeds may be sown at any time with these aids BUT there is no getting round the time of year - some seeds have a 'clock' and if it is the wrong time of year they just will not come up until it is the right time of year...  Just keep the soil from drying out completely and keep going.

Sowing (Alternative Method)

This method uses no soil in the initial stages, but it should be cautioned that the seedlings will need transferring to soil very soon after germination.  To do this with small seeds, simply place a paper kitchen roll sheet (folded as necessary) into a plastic container which has a lid. Soak the kitchen roll until it is wet, but no excess water is in the bottom of the tray.  An easy way to do this is to add too much water, let the excess collect in the bottom of the pot and then pour it away. Sow the seeds onto the moist paper and then seal the lid. Place at germination temperatures and then just wait until the seeds sprout.  If condensation forms on the lid, tap it to let it fall onto the seeds.  This method does require scrupulous hygiene as if fungal infections get hold, you will lose the batch and you cannot really use fungicide.  When the seeds sprout, you should get them in soil as soon as possible, still in controlled conditions and then allow them to root and grow on. Huge batches of seeds can be sown this way in small spaces, we have stacked containers one on top of each other on the propagators using this method with those seeds needing most heat on the bottom.  This is especially suitable for seeds that get soaked before sowing, as well as very small seeds that cannot be soaked in case you lose them.

Growing on.

Grow on, maintaining a close atmosphere opening the bag or propagator every few days to freshen the air. Once 2 or 3 true leaves appear the seedlings can be gently transplanted in order to grow on. Use any good quality houseplant compost for the potting on – garden soil should never be used as it is very variable in quality and may contain many weed seeds and pests.

Continue to pot on as required, some vigorous species may need 3 – 6 re-pottings per year, whereas slower growers may need potting on every other year. Let your plants tell you when they need to be potted on (they will slow down in growth or just ‘look’ unhappy)

If you have any questions please contact me at robert.boatman@gmail.com or bob_b@bsquared.demon.co.uk and I will be happy to help out with any specific tips I am aware of or I can share my experiences.

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