Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Off to a Rocky Start!

As is typical for me, I started my tomatoes, peppers, chard, basil and eggplant earlier than is typically recommended for my zone this year.  They all went into seed flats on February 19th.  This early start is part of my annual plan that generally succeeds in netting me produce weeks earlier than my neighbors.  Unfortunately this year I hit a bump in the road. 

There were two major changes to my process this year.  I switched seedling starting soil and I switched the place I bought my seeds at.  Last year, reviewing my notes I had 100% tomato germination at ten days for all varieties.  This year it was zero percent.  I decided to do a few things I normally don't.  I replanted everything after first giving each seed a two hour soak in white tea and I applied bottom heat with a heating pad on medium.

As of today about half my seeds are now up.  It is clearly the soaked seeds that are germinating as I can tell where I planted them.  I suspect that my issues this year are two-fold.  I am unhappy with the soil mix I used (Epsoma Organic seed starting mix).  It is chunky, holds too much moisture and really seems to compact down hard.  It also has developed a fine teal moss-like growth on its surface.  Something I've never had an issue with before.  I also have a sneaking suspicion that the seeds I purchased may be older.  The packets were not dated and they were very bleached and dry looking.  They are sprouting now, so I'm happy about that but this morning I'm glad that I started everything early.  Had I waited until the "right" time, I would already be behind the eight ball.


Katie G. said...

Do you soak all your seeds before starting them? and why in white tea?

Stacy said...

Hi Katie, I don't typically soak any of my seeds before planting them unless I know that they are old.

I added some white tea to this soak because there is some evidence that seeds because I read somewhere that germination can be aided with a nitrate exposure prior to planting. One that can be gotten from a soak in green tea. I didn't have any green, so I went with white!