Sunday, March 27, 2011

Patience with the Impatiens

As you "grow on" your seedlings you have to pay attention to moisture. It's recommended that you let the soil medium dry out in between waterings of impatiens. Here are the New Guinea growing on in their packs. Please notice that I have added some starter mix around the seedlings. They look like they are getting a good start.
Here's the basil, it's almost doing too good. I may have started that too soon. It may need some pruning before it can be set out.

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme

Granted the sage is a little bit behind the rest but it will catch up.

Tiny Stevia Sprout

If you remember the Stevia was in the refrigerator for 1 week. On Friday I took it out and put it in the heated germination tray. The seed packet recommended bottom heat. Today there is one little sprout. All I can say is SWEET-leaf. There is also one sprout on the sage seeds.

Pepper Sprouts

The peppers are sprouting. The few seeds from last year, Zavory have sprouted. Actually that was a couple days ago. Here they are.
And here they are ready to be pricked out
The Serrano Tampiqueno and the Yummy blend (Sweet Hungarian) are also sprouting today!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Heat is the key

For consistent results germinating seeds the temperature of the soil mix is key. Here is a basic chart for selecting the proper temperature for germination.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pepper planting

Time to STGT some hot pepper seeds. Here's the pepper germination tray I use.
Then fill it with the seed starter mixture.
Above the tray are the seeds I will start today. First I make a mark with a pencil on the side of the tray.

And another mark on the other side of the tray.

Please note that the seed packet says to sow the seeds 1/4 inch deep.
 So take your measuring stick and make a trench 1/4 inch deep.

Then place the seeds into the trench. I put about 9 seeds in this trench.
Then spray the seeds with water and cover with more soil mix. Now comes the important part. Since there will be several varieties of peppers in this tray, you have to keep track of where each variety is planted. I draw a diagram in my log book that shows where each different pepper is planted.
Just continue this process for the rest of the hot peppers. This is how they are planted for 2011.

The seeds in the tiny ziplock are peperone. They are supposed to be the Greek salad pepper. I have had these seeds for three years now. We will see if they're viable. I  wonder what the smallest ziplock baggie looks like? Water the germination tray. Then into the bottom heater flat it goes. I set the thermostat up to 82 degrees.
Next post - Optimum germination temperatures

Just like seeing an old friend

What can really cheer you up is seeing an old friend. And so it was when the robins returned to Minnesota. Official sighting was on Saturday but I just got around to posting this today.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

P2P More Herbs

Today I pricked to the packs parsley, basil, and thyme.
Above are the parsley seedlings and the tools to transplant them. Below is the final outcome. I usually keep some extra seedlings in the germination pot until I'm sure that the ones in the pack have got a good start.

This is the basil and thyme.

I want to call your attention to the depth of the soil mix in the packs. I used to fill them up to close to the top and put the seedlings in them. A few years ago I realized that if I only filled the cells about a third full and put the seedlings in them that they grew better. This allows me to add some soil mix as the seedlings grow. Notice how deep the thyme is place in the cells.

Sprout on Rosemary

The Rosemary is sprouting. If you remember this is a herb that they say is sort of hard to start from seed. HA! I love the challenge, I just keep in mind that pride go-eth before a fall.

It's Growing!

The seedlings are growing. This is the Lavatera that I started from harvested seed. It's getting a good start. Three of the seeds out of five have germinated. I will sow the rest in a couple weeks.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Today I put in a germination pot the 10 Stevia seeds.

As you can see these are some small seeds. To sow them I just    dip a toothpick in some water and touch the seed. The seed will stick to the toothpick. Then place the seed in the mixture. The seed packet says to stratify the seed. What that means is to fool the seed into thinking it's been through winter. Something that none of us Minnesotans would ever need. So after sowing the seeds and moistening them, I placed them in a ziplock and put them in the back of the refrigerator. It's also a good idea to mention to your spouse what the heck it is in the back of the refrigerator. You wouldn't want it to end up in the soup. Stevia has an interesting past, if you'd like more information this is a pretty good link.

Don't give up on seeds

Here's a single impatiens seedling coming up in the tray. Don't give up too quickly on seeds. Some are slow starters.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Last year I tried a new variety of habanero called Zavory. I think it won AAS that year. If you have ever tried to eat a habanero pepper, I mean even just a sliver of a habanero, you know that it is an accomplishment. I was going to say acquired taste. But you won't taste anything except pain. However, there is a lot of flavor in the habanero. This variety promised all the flavor and no heat. It lived up to it's billing in the test garden. I found out though that I needed to start this one earlier than the other peppers. It was slow to mature and bear fruit. So, since I had 7 seeds left from 2010, I put them in the germination tray today. I was able to get 2 more New Guinea Impatien seedlings out of the tray and 1 more Lavatera. The video shows where and how I planted the pepper seeds. Also I turned the temperture up on the tray to 78 degrees. I have about 8 different varieties of peppers to start this year. I like to put a different variety in each cell of a 4 or 6 pack. I then refer to them as "yuppie packs". I have given a few of those out to friends who want to grow some different plants but don't want to buy 4 or 6 of each variety. A bedding plant is a terrible thing to waste. Here's the video with music courtesy of



On Monday the 14th the parsley started to sprout.

So today I went to Walmart and bought some sage seeds. My herb planter will have parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme in it. That's if I can get the rosemary to sprout. Tomorrow is "the wearing of the green". I have found that to be a good marker for starting pepper seeds. So that's what's coming up.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

More P2P

I packed up 16 New Guinea Impatiens. There may be a couple more I can get out of the germination tray but that was all for now. 16 out of 28 seeds was not too bad.

After putting the seedlings into the packs, I put them under the four foot fluorescent light. The light has to be as close to the seedlings as possible.

Now the key is to keep the soil in the packs moist but not to over water. This requires checking them at least twice a day. I have also found that this power sprayer works great for watering the plants. I feel a little guilty using it because it takes 2 double A batteries. But it saves on hand spraying them.

 I spray the edges of the cells and try not to spray right on the seedlings. This is another critical time when you don't want the seedlings damping-off. Do not over water. I am going to start a fan to keep air circulation constant in the grow center.
I would have to guess that by now you are thinking-

 Can all this really be cost effective. Wouldn't you just be better off to go to the garden center at Walmart on Memorial Day weekend and buy the plants?

Well of course it would, but where's the challenge in that?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Prick to Pack

When your seedlings have sprouted in their germination tray there comes a time when you need to "prick" them out. This involves loosing the medium from around their stem and freeing their root system from the seed starter mix. This needs to be done very carefully. When handling the seedling pick it up by the leaf. It is better if the leaf breaks off than if you would apply too much pressure and crush the stem. I put enough potting mix in each cell of the pack to fill them up about half way. Make a hole in the mix with your finger or use a dibble. The dibble I use is a customized one that I made from the handle of a steak knife. Then drop the seedling roots into the hole and firm the soil around it. Finally spray with water to settle the seedling in. Here is a video of the process.


As you can see, that was pretty easy to pack the lavatera. I hope you noticed how I lifted the seedling by the leaf but also the advanced development of the root system. I probably could have packed that seedling sooner. Usually I can prick out enough to fill a pack. However, only one other lavatera has sprouted out of the 5 that I have planted. I will prick that one out and then start on the New Guinea Impatiens. Again, you don't want the seedling's root system too advanced because it will make it hard to prick it out and also to fit the roots into the individual cells of the pack. Some folks direct seed into the packs. I have never had very good luck with that method. When I tried that I had leggy plants. But it can a be a real challenge to prick out the smaller seedlings like impatiens. Some flowers just won't tolerate this at all. They do not like their developing root system disturbed. Last year I started some petunias inside. The petunia seeds are so tiny that they are pelleted for ease of planting. Those seedlings were very hard to prick to pack (P2P).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

More Sprouts

The Basil and the Thyme have sprouted.

Nothing is showing on the parsley or the rosemary yet. The New Guinea Impatiens are starting to grow and the Lavatera looks like it has its first true leaves. I will need to start "pricking" these seedlings out very soon. Only two Lavatera have sprouted out of the five seeds I planted. But then the catalog said they could take awhile to germinate. Here's that tray -
I am going to make my first attempt at posting a video to this blog. I think this weekend I will give it a try.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Spice it up

On Sunday March 6th I decided to plant some herbs. These can be started indoors anytime during the year. I wanted to get these going early so I would have some fresh herbs. I hoping to make an herb planter for out on the patio. I did not have any Rosemary seeds so I talked my wife into taking a trip with me to the local greenhouse.
Oh what an oasis a real greenhouse is from a Minnesota winter. Just walking into the one hot house that was open was so invigorating. The WARMTH and HUMIDITY and the smell of WET SOIL. I could have stayed in there all afternoon. But we didn't. We bought the seeds and returned home.
Rosemary is hard to start from seed. Some seeds need stratification or chilling in order to break their dormancy. Rosemary does not, supposedly but if you go on line you will find advice to chill the seed and warm it. Also Rosemary does not need a high germination temperature. So here's what I did.
Rosemary and germination tray. Now the seed packet says to plant Rosemary 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep. That's kind of deep for the size of the seed. Here I customized a ruler so I could measure soil depths.

Then just use the ruler to trench the seed starter mixture.
Check to make sure you have the approximate depth.
And then plant the seeds. Oh, and here is something anal/retentive you won't want to miss. Open your seed packets on the bottom of the package. Like this ----
That way after you sow a few seeds from the packet you can fold the edges back up and store them for next year. I have kept seeds for 3 to 4 years this way and they have still been viable. It's a strange way to save about 25 cents but if you factor in the shipping to purchase seeds that all adds up. So then you really save about a dollar. Anyway, after you fold up the packages they look like this and you can still read what's in each one.

Please notice that I wrote the germination temperature on the Thyme seed package. 70 degrees. Now back to the Rosemary. The seed is planted in the tray, moistened and then I put it in a plastic baggie.
From there it goes to the good old Frigidaire.

and into the drawer for some chillin'
I have been leaving it in the Frigidaire overnight and then I put it back in the grow center on the cement floor. Like I said, Rosemary does not need a "high" germination temperature. Unfortunately it has a low germination percentage so always plant more of the seed than you need.
Some seeds will have an easier time breaking dormancy if you soak them overnight. Parsley is one of those seeds. So I put some parsley seed in a cup and added a little water. I soaked those seeds overnight before planting them.

Now I have in my heated germination tray, Parsley, Sweet Basil, and Thyme. On the floor I have Rosemary. That should make a nice herb garden. FRESH HERBS ARE THE BEST !