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October 28, 2017 4:38 am

Success with Seeds

Saturday, April 25, 2015 @ 3:45 AM

Seeds are amazing things.

They are tiny little packages containing the energy needed to grow the beginning of a plant. As they lay dormant, they are waiting for the right conditions of moisture, temperature, and sometimes light, to wake up and begin to grow. Some seeds are larger than others but once planted they all have enough energy to grow a root and shoot.

As the shoot grows larger it will soon be able to gather its own energy to continue to grow into a full sized plant if given the right growing conditions.

Seeds purchased this spring will have the highest germination rate. Leftover seeds from last year should germinate if they were stored properly. Seeds should be stored in a cool, dry, dark place. Not all seeds will have the same survival rate. If you are not sure how viable leftover seeds are, test a few by placing them in a moistened paper towel and see if they sprout after a few days.

Before planting seeds outdoors, prepare the garden soil. Remove all the debris, stones, weeds etc. Add compost, old manure blood/bone meal or fertilizer to the garden and till it in. Level the soil so that there are no dips where water can gather.

When it is time to plant the seeds, read the information given on the seed packet first. The information should include when to plant, depth of seed, spacing, and growing recommendations.

Temperature plays a big part in germination. Some seeds will germinate in cooler soil temperatures while many others prefer warm soil temperatures. Keep in mind that the soil may feel warm on the surface but once you go deeper it becomes colder. If the soil is too cold the seed could rot. By planting seeds too early, you could actually end up having to replant the garden a second time. Our garden at home is planted around the end of May/ beginning of June and we are harvesting the same time as some of the earlier planted gardens because of warmer temperatures and the long daylight hours.

Moisture is also needed for germination. The soil should be moist but not wet. There is usually enough moisture in the soil in the spring so that there is no need to add water. If the soil is very dry, water it before you plant. The last thing you want to do is washout the small, lightweight seeds, planted just below the soils surface.

Some gardeners like to plant in beds, while others prefer rows. Dig a slight trench and place the seeds in it. Generally the larger seeds are planted deeper than the smaller sized seeds. Follow the recommendations given on the seed packet. Cover the seeds and pat the soil down so that the seed is in contact with the soil. Don’t forget to mark the rows and keep a diagram of what is planted where.

Different seeds take different lengths of time to germinate. Parsnips and carrots can take 2-3 weeks to germinate while radishes can germinate in 4-5 days, depending on conditions. Vegetable varieties that do very well directly sown into the garden soil include carrots, beets, parsnips, radishes, onions, turnips, lettuce, mescluns, salad greens, chard, spinach, beans, peas. Vegetables that require a longer growing season or warm temperatures benefit from being started indoors and then are later transplanted outside in the garden.


Jos Van Hage owns and operates two Art Knapp Home and Garden Centres in Prince George:

  • Highway 16 west at Kimball Road
  • Highway 97 North at Northwood Pulpmill Road.


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