Idaho Master Gardener Handbook

C do not plant seeds too deeply ex tremely fine seeds

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c. Do not plant seeds too deeply. Ex- tremely fine seeds such as petunia, be- gonia, and snapdragon are not covered, but lightly pressed into the medium or watered in with a fine mist. If these seeds are broadcast, strive for a uni- form stand by sowing half the seeds in one direction, then sowing the remain- ing seed the other direction to form a crossed pattern. d. Large seeds are frequently sown into a small container or cell pack that elimi- nates the need for early transplanting. Usually two or three seeds are sown per unit and later thinned to allow the strongest seedling to grow. 4. Seed tape—Most garden stores and seed catalogs offer indoor and outdoor seed tapes. Seed tape has precisely spaced seeds enclosed in an organic, water- soluble material. When planted, the tape dissolves and the seeds germinate nor- mally. Seed tapes are especially conve- nient for tiny, hard-to-handle seeds. However, tapes are much more expensive per seed. Seed tapes allow uniform emer- gence, eliminate overcrowding, and per- mit sowing in perfectly straight rows. The tapes can be cut at any point for mul- tiple-row plantings, and thinning is rarely necessary. a. A homemade “seed tape” can be fash- ioned from 2-ply toilet paper and paste made with flour and water. Separate the two paper layers, then use a tooth- pick with a dab of flour paste on it to pick up and place seeds on one of the paper layers. Once all seeds are placed, put the two layers back to- gether while the paste is still wet and roll the “tape” up for later use. The toi- let paper, once covered with soil, will rapidly decay leaving no trace. 5. Pregermination—Another method of starting seeds is pregermination. This method involves sprouting the seeds be- fore they are planted in pots or in the gar- den. This reduces the time to germina- tion, as the temperature and moisture are easy to control. A high percentage of ger- mination is achieved since environmental factors are optimum. a. Lay seeds between two paper towels or on a layer of vermiculite in a shal- low pan. Keep them moist and in a warm place. When roots begin to show, place the seeds in containers or
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3 - 7 Chapter 3, The Idaho Master Gardener Program Handbook plant them directly into the garden. While transplanting seedlings, be care- ful not to break off tender roots. Con- tinued attention to watering is critical. b. When planting seeds in a container that will be set out in the garden later, place one seed in a 2- to 3-inch con- tainer. Plant the seeds at only one-half the recommended depth. Gently press a little soil over the sprouted seed and then add about 1/4-inch of milled sphagnum peat or sand to the soil sur- face. These materials will keep the sur- face uniformly moist and are easy for the shoot to push through. Keep the seedlings in a warm place and care for them as for any other newly trans- planted seedlings.
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