I have always had great difficulty growing plants from seed, i am no expert on seeds but now I have found a way that works for me. Maybe if i lived in the country all the time I could grow them from seed easily enough in the garden but i dont and cant look after them a lot in the ground but now I have found a method that works in Madrid. I have brought a growlamp an enormouse bulb and its fitting and the aluminium shade the shop sells with it that reflects the light back down onto the plants and now the seeds I sow grow too fast to fall victim to damping off that usually has them keeling over and dying after growing a bit. The Seedlings that grew from the seeds I used to plant, first used to stay alive maybe as much as a few weeks, only to disappoint me in the end and falling over and dying.
I put a see through plastic tube in one pot of seeds once into the soil at the top till it touched the bottom of the pot meaning to water the seeds through the tube so the water would go through the tube and wet the bottom of the soil hoping that this would reduce the damping off syndrome and when I took the tube out of the soil the whole depth of it was full of fungi mycelium. The comments of people on damping off fungi make it sound as if they believe the fungi to be on top of the soil, the plants seems to be attacked from the bottom of the stem but if this see through tube is right, the fungi the plants are fighting to survive in goes right through the soil. agri rose macaskie.
The light has cost me a fair penny, more or less eighty Euros but if I can produce lots of small plants from seed and you can buy seed of plants you can’t find in the nurseries easily so that is worth it and it is also worth it when a packet of seed gives you lots of plants, pansies say and so without much money you can fill your garden full of seed. I have set the light up in a shower, we never take a shower, we use the bath. I have lots of photos if my set up. I have hung the lamp off an extra shower curtain rail. Curtain rails hold themselves up, you don’t have to make holes in the wall you just extend the rail more and more till it holds jammed between the two walls of the space for the shower. I have tried to grow things from seed often with such poor results that the results I am getting now are very exciting for me. I have also used mycorrhizal powder in the soil of the pots. So the seeds that are doing so well for me now have both the lamp and mycorrhizal fungi if the last has taken. The other thing that has changed about the way I grow seeds is that after failing so often to grow plants from seed I have started to look up the plant in the internet using for example the words, “daisy from seed”, or whatever from seed, to find out how deep to plant the seed and strange as the plant may seem, the internet seems to have accounts of how to grow it from seed and I am taking the recommendations seriously. agri rose macaskie.
Heres a photo of the purslane seedling groing in the bathroom. and below, of what I think might be miners lettuce and young yarow plants but i have not marked the places of the seeds I sowed so i am not sure of what i have got. agri rose macaskie.
I grow many plants from seeds and have, fortunately, not recently had damping off problems. My method is slightly different from yours. To germinate the seeds I use seed starter mix and I make 3/4" soil blocks. Perhaps the starter mix is more sterile than your medium. An advantage of the soil blocks is I can see exactly how much water there is in the tray. I use a fluorescent light bulb and an electric tray warmer and keep the seeds covered until they germinate, when I remove the cover. Details are on my website - under tab - growing organic, growing seed with seed blocks.
www.nu-trac.info - new life tracks – growing organic, conservation, self reliance
Sounds like you have more seed growing equipment than i have. I have thought of buying a propagation tray because i would like to get trees from cuttings of my favourite junipers in the woods near my house and may be of maples, if i can get trees from cuttings of the maples that grow in the woods, then i would know what colour their leaves were going to turn in autumn. I do like the way one tree has yellow leaves another salmon another rose and another yellow, it woould be nice to get various maples in a variety of colours. There are wild junipers thuriferas with a different growth habit from other ones, like there are weeping ones and ones with branches that spread out like a very spready skirt and there is a common juniper i llke with a very tight growth habit which is attractive.
NuTrac. I cant find potting compost, a good sterile mix for seeds here in the garden centres, though i did see those words potting compost in small print at the bottom of a soil mix mix for bonsais but then i began to doubt that the words potting compost meant what i thought they did, which was something suitable for seeds, as suddenly all the packets of earth had these words on them. I have looked for sorgum moss so i coud mix it with sand and make my own but i have not found that either, maybe i have to buy it on the4internet. In the end I rinsed the earth i used in plenty of water and then left it to dry to wash out nutrients so as to make it more sterile and less likely to fill up with damping off molds. Would the seedlings grow more roots if i had a heated tray under them? I have never had much success before with seeds. It used to be a bit depressing buying them, I bought packets of seeds and they mostly did not come to anything so having most of the seeds grow is very exciting and the possibilites that spread before me of growing masses of things quickly and with very little cost is likewise exciting. Try, try and in the end a better way occurs to you. agri rose macaskie
Hugh H. I used to grow seeds in the kitchen or sitting room it is only since i have got the grow lamp that I used the bathroom as the bathroom window is a bit high to give a lot of light withotu a lamp but the size of the sshower makes it easier to hang a grow lamp. This bathroom only has a loo and a shower in it, we never used the shower we all bath. The climate is very dry here so even in a bathroom things dry off quick. As i said, the fungi in the some soil i was growig seeds in last year on the kitchen table seemed to go right through the pot. I put a see through plastic tube in the soil, from top to bottom, so i could water through the tube and only wet the bottom of the soil, which i thought might help with the damping off. When i took it out later and it was covered in fungi, the whole depth of it was, inside and out, so I think it is the fungi in the soil tha tdoes for seedlings, and the soil is naturally damp as i water it, not that of the air. Even then some seedlings survived, that is why i thought the thing might be to get them strong fast enough and they grow even when they are surrounded by fungi and with the grow light they get quite big in two weeks, some of them do at anyrate. I know that lots of people grow seeds with out a lamp but it is the first thing that has worked for me. i have had sucess growing ginkos from seed that i picked up in the street fallen from some tree planted by the government, ditto locust trees and even an olive, by breaking open the seed case carefully in the case of the olive. You have to get good at breaking open the case of the seed, which in olives is very hard, without squashing the kernal to grow them from seed. I wonder if things with hard hooves like horses don't help olives to grow. rose macaskie.
I took a look at my seed starting mix (made by Miracle-Gro and labeled as such). It appears to be mainly sphagnum peat moss and perlite. A small amount of fertilizer - 0.11%, which to me is regrettable, since I like to think I am 100 % organic. I have just begun with cuttings and mix my own sphagnum peat and perlite, and going forward, I shall be making my own seed starting mix as well. When summer returns, you could dry your sand under a transparent plastic cover which will raise the temperature considerably and eliminate more of the bad guys in the soil.
As to a heating pad, I have found it makes a huge difference. The warmth accelerates germination and creates a lot of moisture (which is why I do not fully cover the seed tray). Perhaps, by expediting the process it also is shortening the period when seedlings are vulnerable to damping off.
Cuttings is something new for me - I began 2 weeks ago and none of my cuttings have rooted yet, but it is still early days. Also, in the spring, I shall be trying grafting on my fruit trees. Have you had success with cuttings?
www.nu-trac.info - new life tracks – growing organic, conservation, self reliance
A gardener did geranium cuttings with me when i was a child, it is great doing things with someone else it means that later you try it without all that nervousness and lack of confidence I have if i try things alone following a book. It is a bit stupid that things should be so much more stressful, the fear of faillure the fear that you are just wasting time because it will never work should be so much greater if you are doing things from instructions but that is how it is for me. I dissaprove of people who say learn to do it on your own every time you ask for help, sometimes you have to do things on your own but it is so much easier when you have some one doing it with you, even another beginer. If you can find company on a new task that is the best way. As a result of being shown how as a child I have ocassionally done cuttings ever since. I can't pretend to be a great sucess at them. If you put in a willow branch and it takes that can hardly be called success they take so easily but i have had a few cuttings grow for me. The one that suprised me most was that one bit of juniper, of all the bits i put in the box i have in the garden that is something like a cold frame but with shade cloth over it instead of glass, took. That was with no rooting powder or heating or lights but it was the only one of many attempts to grow junipers from th ebranches of the wild onews of the district that took. If i think of my own efforts to grow things from cuttings i would say try it with everything, you never know if they will take or not and then you will learn. I dont try it with enough things. I forgot, it is easy with currents. Of course if you have lots of money a shop brought plant is quicker, a cutting starts off pretty small, maybe i should try it with bigger branches. I did have a small propogation box but it did not seem to wrlk very well for me when I tried it, so years later i decided to trash it. I am thinking of finding my self a bigger propogation tray. The light works wonders though. agri rose macaskie.
Location: Adelaide, South Australia (Mediterranean climate)
Rose, I can suggest 2 things: hydrogen peroxide, and cinnamon. Both are a great help for damping off disease, and you'll need to do an internet search of either H2O2 + damping off, OR cinnamon + damping off.