Does this happen at your place? Seeds that you didn’t even know were there come sprouting out of the compost with incredible ease – capsicum, tomatoes, melons and those wild pumpkins – but the ones you sow yourself simply fail to cooperate! What can you do to change this?
1 First, it’s important to get the moisture right. As a rule, small seeds, such as beetroot, carrot, spinach and cabbage, need to be constantly moist to germinate. On the other hand, big seeds, including beans, corn and squash, will rot if they’re too wet, so let these dry out a bit between watering for best results.
2 Temperature plays an important role, too. If you had trouble getting your spring seeds started – tomato, eggplant, zucchini and the like – chances are it was too cold where you are. Have another go now, and if you want to get an early start for spring next year, create the warm, cosy conditions the seeds need by placing your punnets on a warm, sunny windowsill or on top of a water heater. Similarly, at the end of summer, when it’s time to kickstart your winter vegies, find a cool spot.
3 Perhaps your seeds were too old, so check the ‘sow by’ date on the packet. Fresh is best! If you think old age is the cause of your poor germination, grab a new packet and witness the vigour of the young seeds yearning to stake their claim.
4 Consider the quality of your seed-raising mix or soil, too. If you like to direct-sow seed, rake in extra compost near the surface. For container sowing, blend the mix with some compost or sow into pure compost.
Whatever you do, don’t give up on sowing seed. We’ve all had our share of failures, but when you stick with it, you develop a deeper understanding of what’s going on, which makes you a better gardener.
For more information on which vegies and flowers to sow or plant in your area this month, check out the October 2021 issue of ABC Gardening Australia magazine, out now.