Thousands of seeds are planted each growing season only to end up a no-show due to one or several of the most common seed germination problems. Hopes of picking green beans or gracing the dinner table with a fresh cut leafy lettuce salad never materialize because some important conditions for germinating were not followed. Every seed needs moisture and the specific temperature required to initiate germination. Correct planting depth varies from one crop to the next. Some seeds need total darkness to sprout, other need sunshine and must lay on the top of the soil. Following are some tips for getting the garden to grow that you sowed.
Common Seed Germination Problems
1. The seed is no longer viable. Some seeds, properly stored, will still be good five or ten years after packaging. But other seeds won’t make it through the first year. Buy fresh seed or test for good germination if you are using seed that you have stored. To test for germination, spread twenty seeds on a wet paper towel, roll it up and put it in a baggie. Check every couple of days to count the germinated seeds. If ten seeds sprout out of the twenty, the germination rate is 50%.
2. Seeds are planted too deeply. Each seed has an ideal planting depth and many seeds are covered up with soil so deep that they die before they ever break through the soil. Planting depth varies from plant to plant, while some don’t want to be “planted” at all, just scattered on top of the soil and watered in. Check the packet instructions and follow directions carefully.
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3. Seeds dried out. Every seed needs moisture to germinate, some a lot and others just a little. The other extreme is too much moisture and rotting occurs. The moisture must be sustained. If a crop takes two weeks to germinate, moisture will need to be provided throughout the germination period to sustain the baby plants.
4. Incorrect temperature. Mother Nature has programmed each type of seed to begin the germination process at a certain temperature. Lettuce seeds wake up at a much cooler temperature than pepper seeds. Having a clear understanding of the soil temperature from early spring to the heat of the summer months will assist you in planting at the correct times for speedy sprouting.
5. Hard, compacted soils. Clay soils dry out to a heavy crust, making it impossible for a baby sprout to push through even if correct temperatures and depths are adhered to. Covering the seed with a lighter soil mix or even potting soil or compost will get the seeds up and going. Lighter soils dry out quickly so watch carefully that adequate moisture is maintained throughout the complete sprouting process.
Seed germination Seed germination is simple, but there are several causes for failure. Be sure you have covered each of the above factors to reduce seed germination problems in your next gardening projects.
Learn more tips to becoming a successful gardener at Do It Yourself Gardening.
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