Here are some pictures of the newly transplanted babies, tomato babies. Just in case you thought I was sitting on my laurels! I try not to transplant until they have there first true leaves. It takes them 4 to 7 days to germinate, then another week to grow their true leaves I have found there is no real point to transplanting any earlier than that. Often, when you do, they fail to thrive. There isn’t enough root system to recover well.

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Here are the two greenhouses almost full of plants. I will be transplanting about 2000 more in about a week. Again, waiting for them to get their true leaves.

Now for some individual pictures

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How to Test the Germination Rate of Your Old Seeds – Courtesy of You Grow Girl

This is an excellent article on testing the germination rate of seeds. If you are like me, I am always saving seeds I buy, seeds I collect from my garden, seeds I save from other folk’s plants… Sometimes I feel the need to test the germination rate of seeds I buy from commercial seed houses! Occasionally I get no or little germination on a seed packet.

How to Test the Germination Rate of Your Old Seeds

I love to buy, collect, save, and trade seed, but I have to admit that I do not go about it in a particularly organized fashion. While I am careful about where and how I store my seeds and I do have my own “it’s all in my head” system, it doesn’t exactly compare to some of the personal seed banks I have seen. I do not have Excel charts or lists of any kind that track what I have and when I got it. If I’m being honest, I often don’t realize I am out of a particular something or other unless I bother to check ahead of time. However, most years that moment doesn’t come until I am in the act of sowing. Whoops, guess I won’t be growing that this year.  For this reason, it’s not uncommon for me to find packets in my stash that are older than I can remember. Most store-bought seeds have a “packed for” date on them, but I receive a lot of seed in trade, and some of those traders are even less organized than me. The seed of some plants last no more than a year or so. If I find an unmarked, rogue packet of onions or leeks I can be nearly certain that they are junk. Tomatoes seem to last forever, so if I find a packet of unknown origin that I’d like to grow, it’s worth spending the time to test its germination rate.A germination test determines the viability of the seed — how many in a packet will reliably germinate. This is important because the window of opportunity to get some crops sown and growing can be short. I’ve lost the chance to grow a specific variety some years because I sowed and then waited on seed that wouldn’t grow.Germination rate can also provide a gauge of a seed’s vigor. I explain what this is below.

How to Test for Germination Rate
There are lots of ways to go about this. Some people use paper towels. I use coffee filters because I find it easier to see the germinated seeds and their roots should I opt to plant those that have germinated. Fragile roots and leaves tend to disappear in the pile of paper towels.

What You Need:
Coffee filters
Plastic baggies
Water
10 Seeds (per test)
Permanent marker

Cut or tear the coffee filter along the bottom and one side seam. Lightly moisten with water so that it is moist, but not sopping wet. I sometimes use a spray bottle but you can also just dip it into a bowl of water and squeeze it out.

Open the filter up flat and lay out 10 seeds on one half. You do not have to do 10 seeds at a time, but it makes figuring out the germination rate a heck of a lot easier. Spread the seeds out so that they aren’t touching. I do this so that there is less chance that their roots will become entangled should I decide to plant them up.

Fold the half of the coffee filter that does not have seeds over onto the side that does.

Fold the bottom half up.

Place the moist and folded coffee filter inside a baggie and seal. Write the variety name and the date you started the test on the outside of the baggie. I write this onto sticker labels so I can reuse the baggies in further testing.

Place the sealed and labelled baggies in a warm place and check on them every few days to see whether germination has occurred. Some seeds may require more time. Some may also require light in order to germinate, or more heat.

Tip: The majority of the seeds I test do well in a kitchen or utility drawer that is used often. Otherwise I have a tendency to forget about them! I also put a sticky note on the front of the drawer as an added reminder to keep checking the seeds! Hot peppers tend to need more heat, so I keep them on top of a reliably warm (but not hot) appliance.

The rate is determined by the number of seeds out of 10 that have germinated. For example, 6 out of 10 seeds = 60% 3 out of 10 = 30% and so on.

You can go ahead and plant any seedling that have germinated into soil just as you would a seed. Don’t bother trying to remove the seedling from the paper — you risk damaging delicate roots. Instead, tear the paper around the plant. (Note: If your seedlings have browned roots like mine do in the above photo then I would not suggest planting them up. I left those too long and the roots were starting to rot.)

Loss of Vigor: Seeds that fall below 70% germination tend to suffer from a loss of vigor that will increase with each passing year. What this means is that even though many of them will still germinate, the seedlings that develop may not be healthy or develop into strong, vital plants. If the percentage isn’t too low you may decide to take a chance and see how the seedlings develop. It should be easy enough to determine which are suffering. However, if you’re planning to save seed from this plant for future crops then you may want to replace the seed now. Unhealthy plants beget unhealthy plants and since you’re going to the effort, it is worth it to start out with the best of the best.

Please note that some varieties suffer from a poor germination rate even when new and healthy, so it’s important to know your plant/variety.

Tip: I keep all of my seed testing equipment (including the used baggies) together with my seed saving equipment in one of the dollar store containers that I use for organizing seed. That way I have it on hand whenever I need it.

Source: How to Test the Germination Rate of Your Old Seeds – You Grow Girl

Behind the Scenes: Planting Peppers Seeds,, Petunias, Lobelia, Alyssum, Pansies and Million Bells

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Here you are looking about 1000 or so peppers seeds.

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Here I am planting pepper seeds and some flowers. I planted 50 different varieties of peppers, superhots, sweet bell, non sweet bells, hot and medium hot peppers. I was scared to death to touch the seeds from the superhots so I used tweezers to place them in the seedling pots. My luck, I would have touched them and then my eye, not thinking! Ouch! This was on January 15. They have almost all come up now. We have a ton of baby jalapenos. For all of my seeds I use a sterile seed starting mix and clean single pots. Damping off is an ugly thing!

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This is how my pelletized petunia seed came. It is put into a gel cap, and looks sort of like Contact cold medicine. Depending on variety, there are 5 to 10 seeds. I love working with it in this form, much easier to not over sow. In it’s “wild” form, it is like brown dust. You might think you used 25 seed but in reality, you just dispensed 349 seeds!

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Such tiny little seeds.

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Petunia and Million Bells seeds don’t like to be covered. They need light to germinate. Peppers on the other hand need a thin scattering of seed starting mix over them. Always read your seed packet to see what the light requirements are for germination.

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Million Bells is another one that I like to work with pelletized. They are coated with a clay like substance. the seed lays on top (press into the seed starting mix) and wet with water. This softens the clay coat and they are able to germinate. I use tweezers to distribute as evenly as I can so they can grow after germinating and not crowd each other. They take a long time to obtain a size that I like transplanting. I have found there is no point in rushing them.

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Starting Seeds in March

This has to be the longest winter I can remember. In 2008 we had lots of snow but it didn’t stick around for 3 months as it has this year. We can’t even put up our third greenhouse yet due to snow on the ground! Did I mention it is March 3rd?

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Above are pictures of our tomato babies, as yet unborn. There are approximately 5000 seeds in the various gray cells. We bottom watered them with almost a gallon of hot water for each flat on March 1st and then the were moved to the shelves under the lights. In about 7 days they will germinate. It’s actually quite exciting checking them everyday, most times twice a day, to see if they’ve raised their tiny, green heads.

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This is a close up of some of the cells. I spent several hours every day spreading the tiny seeds in rows of 50 to 35 seeds in each cell. This year I even used tweezers to keep them orderly. Doing it over a couple days saved my back big time!

Once they get their first set of true leaves, I will transplant them into 3.5″ pots and they will go out into the greenhouses.

One very important tip when starting seeds: Use a sterile seed starting/germination mix. It will help tremendously in not getting damping off. Nothing is worse than seeing them lush and healthy one day and watching them fall over the next. Very sad. It doesn’t matter whether you are starting tomatoes or petunias in a greenhouse or inside your family home. Since I started using a sterile mix I haven’t had damping off. You can get it at NW Seed and Pet and possibly other big box stores.

Mucho Nacho Jalapeños and Emerald Fire Jalapeños -A Germinators Dream! (at least this year)

Every once in a while you meet a plant that you really like. This year, mine is the Mucho Nacho Jalapeño and the Emerald Fire Jalapeño, Peppers are notoriously hard to germinate, especially the superhots (Carolina Reapers, Ghost and Trinidad Scorpions) and the hot (Tabasco, Habanero, Serrano, Hungarian Yellow Wax etc.) to mildly hot (Jalapeños, Numex Big Jim, Anaheims, Poblanos etc.) Some of the hot peppers can take up to 4 weeks or more to germinate and then if you get 50% you think you are doing pretty good.

 

mucho-nacho-jalapeno2Mucho Nacho is a new one for me this year. It is supposed to be hotter, fatter, longer, more prolific, well, you get the picture, than a regular Jalapeño. It was the first one to germinate and it was very happy, vibrant and healthy. Lush. I can’t say enough about it.

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The Emerald Fire was a close second. Germination on both of these were close to 90 – 95% which is really good. Nice strong stems, beautiful true leaves, easy to handle when transplanting into 3.5” pots.

For those of you who germinate your own seeds in a greenhouse you can understand how happy I was to handle these guys. Some plants, especially flowers practically require magnifying glassed and tweezers!

jalapeno-green-pepperMucho Nacho Jalapeños – 68-70 Days

An impressive Jalapeño from Mexico, large, 4” fruits are fatter, thicker, heavier, hotter, and up to a full inch longer than regular Jalapeños. They start off green and mature to red. Vigorous and prolific, they set heavy loads about a week earlier than is typical of Jalapeños.

ad8bf754-f0b0-446d-992d-573a80710745_1000Emerald Fire Jalapeño – 90 Days

These hot peppers are good for salsa, pickling, grilling, and stuffing, Extra-large, thick-walled, crack-resistant peppers, plump and delicious. Emerald Fire is very prolific and there will be enough peppers to share with your friends and family!

Winner of a 2015 All-America Selection, Emerald Fire is compact enough for patio containers, but may need some support to hold up all the peppers! Easy to grow, standing up to heat, humidity, and refuses to crack. Long season but worth the wait!

Carolina Reaper, Ghost Pepper, and Trinidad Scorpion Have Been Seeded!

I seeded my super hots and my “just plain hot” peppers over the last couple of days.

The superhots: Carolina Reaper, purportedly the hottest pepper in the world, the Ghost pepper, aka Bhut Jolokia, and the Trinidad Scorpion can take up to 8 weeks to germinate.

The normal hot peppers (ones that are not reported to set your head on fire) that I planted are Thai, two kinds of Habanero, Serrano, Cayenne, Hungarian Hot Wax and Chinese Five Color can also be slow. I do know they are slow to grow, hence my starting them in January. Next week I will sow the rest of them. The sweet bells, non sweet bells and the medium hots like Jalapenos, Poblanos etc.

The funny thing is that I am of hispanic descent yet I don’t like anything even remotely spicy! Wait, I do have a caveat to that statement. I will use the smallest piece of jalapeno that I can get away with in my salsas for flavor. And I mince it to dust at that.

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Cabin Fever Blues: Longing for Warmer Weather

Am spending the day ordering tomato and pepper seeds. I look outside and it is gray and dreary and cold. Doing this tasks makes me long for warmer temps, green grass, the warmth of the sun on my face.

Who knew? Every year I get tired of gardening and watering and thinking up ways to use my produce and start thinking about calling in an asphalt company. Then, long about Christmas, the seed catalogs start arriving and I start dreaming.

There is a new (to me) kind of nasturtium out, called Phoenix.51477-PK-P1

It’s petals have raggedy edges. The seed came a couple of days age. Looking forward to trying it. The first time I grew them, they were a major aphid magnet. Yuck. I tried again and haven’t had any problems since and they are on my list of favorite flowers now. I also love the variegated Alsaka

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Nifty Way to Plant an Accessible Kitchen Garden

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Here is a picture I saw on facebook about a different way to garden. The only caveats: the bag will weigh a lot so make sure that where you put it, is where you want it (you might try putting it on a cart with wheels if you want to move it to catch sun) and that what you put it on, is able to hold it’s weight. Also, PUT DRAINAGE HOLES UNDERNEATH, LOTS OF THEM!

Try shallow rooted veggies like radishes, round carrots, lettuce, spinach, beets etc.

Onions are up and Hot Peppers planted

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Onions are up! Impatiens are up! Snapdragons and lobelia too! It’s nice to see signs of spring, even if it’s only under lights in the house.  Oh, and I have Yugoslavian Buttercrunch coming up too.

I tried something different with my onions, I planted them individually in plug trays since they don’t seem to like being transplanted at a young age.

Yesterday I planted hot peppers, Hot peppers are notoriously slow to germinate and then sometimes they are spotty. Depends on the freshness of the seed and the variety. First I soaked them in weak tea. Pain in the butt to separate them, stuck to my fingers. Here is the list: Arbol, Bhut Jolokia (yes, the infamous ghost), Cayenne, Early Jalapeno, Habanero, Hungarian Yellow Wax, Maules Red Hot, Pasilla, Pepperoncini, Serrano, Tabasco, Anaheim, Shishitso

I don’t like hot peppers although I have been know to use a smidgen of jalapeno in my salsa.

We’ve had snow and cold weather until the pineapple express rolled in last night. Now it’s 45 degrees. Melting all our snow.

First Seeds of the Year

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I planted Candy onions in plug trays and Walla Walla Sweets in a broadcast method, the way I have always done them. We will see which does better when it comes to transplanting.

I also seeded some Lisanthus, Lobelia, Crytal Palace and Blue Wings,  pink Brugmansia, snapdragons and several varieties of Impatiens, including the uber expensive rosebud type.