By Ramzan Rafique
The best way to grow plants from seed varies depending on the type of plant being grown.
Most plants are best started indoors with as little root disturbance as possible.
Additional requirements, such as seed treatment prior to planting, varies depending on the seeds.
In order to grow from seed, a good planting medium is needed. The best materials to use are light, have good drainage, and are sterile.
For example, garden soil, compost, and manure will often cause a seed to rot before it has time to germinate.
In addition, most garden soil is heavy and not suitable for starting seeds in containers. Peat, sand, perlite, vermiculite, and coconut husk can be combined to make a good mix for starting seeds in a container.
Using peat pots is one of the easiest ways to grow from seed. Peat pots are made out of biodegradable materials that will break down in the garden.
The peat pots are filled with the desired seed starter medium, and the seeds are planted. When the seedlings are ready to be planted out in the garden, the entire peat pot is planted into the hole.
As the pot breaks down, the roots grow into the garden soil, which helps avoid root disturbance when transplanting.
Most seeds germinate reliably in a temperature range between 70°F and 85°F (about 21°C to 28°C).
Cooler temperatures slow germination rates and often prevent germination of many tropical plants. Higher temperatures can damage seeds and also slow germination rates. Seed packages usually indicate the ideal temperature for the specific seeds.
Growing from seed often requires stratification, or the artificial breaking of the seeds’ dormancy. This involves a period of chilling, usually lasting two weeks to several months, followed by planting in warm soil.
Many plants from temperate climates will not germinate until chilled for a period of time to imitate seasonal chilling. The best way to stratify seeds is between two layers of damp peat moss in a zip-top bag placed in the refrigerator.
Seeds with hard seed coats must be damaged before they will germinate. The best way to break the seed coat in order to grow from seed is to roll the seed between two pieces of sand paper.
The sand paper roughs up the seed surface, allowing water to penetrate and stimulate germination.
Many seeds purchased from seed distributors are already stratified or have broken coats when such treatments are required. When collecting seeds from plants in the landscape, it is best to consider the natural environment.
If the climate is tropical, direct seeding should work to grow from seed, while in cold climates, where seeds usually spend a winter on the ground before sprouting in the spring, stratification likely will be necessary.
How do i choose a best seeder:
There are several garden seeder designs available, from small handheld models to larger wheeled units, and choosing the best one involves knowing what will be planted with the seeder and where.
A large, wheeled seeder is appropriate for long rows of plants, such as corn, and can be used to disperse wildflower seeds over a broad area. A medium-size model, which often consists of a single wheel attached to a handle, is effective in a medium-size garden where there are open areas but not enough space to warrant a larger unit.
Small garden seeders are handheld and can be used to space just a few seeds in a small row, pots or raised bed. Some larger units have optional attachments, such as fertilizer spreaders, although the overall usefulness of the attachments depends on how the garden is being planted.
A very common type of garden seeder is a standing variety that usually has a hopper for the seeds connected to one or more wheels and a long handle that allows the gardener to push the device so seeds are dispersed as it moves.
These are most effective for a garden where a good amount of seeds of the same type need to be spaced evenly in a large area.
They are not as effective at distributing small amounts of seeds, because the hopper sometimes will not be full enough to allow the seeds to drop and disperse evenly.
A wheeled, standing seeder usually depends on metal discs or plates that are placed in the bottom of the seed hopper to control the rate or pattern of seed dispersal.
Some models only come with one plate, while others can include quite a few. Additional attachments, such as a watering attachment or a fertilizer distributor, can immediately water and fertilize the seeds as they are set down.
Some seeders have multiple hoppers so more than one type of seed can be planted without having to worry about creating a homogenous mixture first.
A medium-size garden seeder tends to be made from a wheel-like plastic disc that is hollow on the inside.
The seeds are placed in the disk and a perforated screen or other physical barrier spins along the edge of the wheel as the seeder is pushed forward, releasing seeds at regular intervals.
These are a good choice for medium-size gardens, because they cannot hold a large amount of seeds. They also are excellent for areas that are hard to get to or are very narrow.
A handheld seeder is designed to allow a gardener to drop single seeds where they are needed.
They can be similar to syringes or shaped like spades with dividers in the center or even small bladders that release seeds based on pressure. A handheld seeder is good for a very small garden, indoor gardening or container gardening.
Handheld seeders also can be a convenient choice for handling and tracking seeds that are small and easily lost.
Source: Agri Hunt