Friday, February 12, 2010

Seed Starting Update - Mid-February

Welcome Alan, Kim and Liz. Thanks for following!

I hope everyone is enjoying the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics. I thought I'd just do a quick update on the seeds I've started so far.

Tuscan kale seedlings
Tuscan Kale - I started these on February 2nd. They seem to be doing pretty well. Germination was at about 80%. I'm hoping to have 8 transplants when all is said and done.

wild strawberry seedlings
Red and Yellow Wonder Wild Strawberries - I started 18 blocks of each on February 2nd. Germination for the yellow variety has been close to 100% (17 out of 18 blocks). However, only 7 blocks have germinated so far for the red variety. I'm hoping that this will improve within the the next few days. To be on the safe side, I sowed 6 more blocks of each a couple of days ago.

red of florence scallions
Red of Florence Scallions - I sowed 8 multi-seeded blocks (which I will not thin) on February 2nd. All of my onions will be grown in this way this year. Six blocks have sprouted so far. I'm guessing that if I had these over a heat mat, germination would have been a bit quicker. Last weekend, I started15 more blocks of these scallions and 15 blocks of Red Amposta onions. Still no signs of life from this latest batch.

shanghai pac choi and mizuna
Shanghai Bok Choy (left 2 rows and back row) and Mizuna - I sowed these blocks on February 7th and already all of them have germinated. In my experience, Asian greens are some of the easiest seeds to start indoors. I'd like to have successive sowings of bok choy going all year long.

celery seedlings
Celery - I started 8 blocks of celery on February 2nd and 7 have sprouted so far. I'm very happy about this as I've read that celery can be very slow to start. While the seed packet indicated that it could take anywhere between 15 to 30 days for the seeds to germinate, my seeds took about 11 days with a heating mat.

imperial star artichoke seedling
Imperial Artichokes - This is undoubtedly my biggest disappointment so far. I started 10 blocks on February 2nd and only 1 has germinated. Fed up, I dug into several of the blocks today and found no signs of life whatsoever. The seeds didn't look like they were rotting. They just look lifeless. It's these little setbacks that really make you question your gardening knowledge and abilities. I don't really know what to make of this since I've followed the growing instructions pretty closely.

imperial star artichoke seeds
Not that I was looking for someone else to blame but I did take a closer look at the seed packet today. It was then that I noticed the minimum germination rate disclosed by Johnny's - around 65% measured in July 2009. Also, the sell by date was listed as July 2010. Could the bad germination be due to the fact that these seeds are old? It would be really upsetting if this were the case since I purchased these seeds a couple of months ago. To be on the safe side, I am starting all 25 seeds contained in this packet. Hopefully, I will end up with more than just one plant to grow this summer.

I also started some ground cherries and roselle on February 7th - still no signs of life.


  1. All the seedlings look great! I am starting a bunch of stuff soon. I only have one heat mat so what I have seeded now needs to germinate first. Next up will be all the peppers and some early greens.

    The artichoke could take up to 21 days to germinate. Most of the larger seeds also benefit from being soaking in water for 24hrs prior to seeding.

  2. Sorry the artichoke seeds are giving your trouble. Never grown them so no advice to offer. Everything else is looking good!

    I will be starting a bunch of seeds tomorrow - and probably doing a planting of spinach in the outside garden beds - under a grow tunnel. Get to try out my new planting jigs finally! :D

  3. the artichoke seeds I bought suggested putting them in damp soil in the fridge for 2 weeks for greatly improved germination. Mine are still in the fridge so I cannot attest to if that works or not yet but it can't hurt.

  4. Happy Tet Thomas, are you doing anything special?

    The seedlings look good, sorry about the artichoke seeds, if it makes you fell any better - last year I started a bunch of seeds that never germinated, I was so disgusted with them I threw the entire seed tray away.

  5. Seedlings look wonderful! Too bad for the artichokes, but there should be always something that you can improve on next time. And maybe they will germinate at the end...
    Good to see onions sprouted!

  6. We do always hear that celery is long to germinate so that's quite astonishing. Looking great, Thomas ! Better luck on your next sowing of artichokes.

  7. Celery is on my list of things to try in the future. I'm going to do some research and find out if it's celery or the celaric root that I should grow.

  8. Thomas, your photos are splendid as usual. I love seeing the little seedlings spread their foliage. So sorry the artichoke has been a disappointment so far, maybe more time is needed? Although 65% does not seem like favorable odds. Hopefully the ground cherries and roselle will sprout soon.

  9. I'm with you on the artichoke thing! After one of mine keeled over and it was definitely NOT damping off I started researching! The germination is definitely low, I think you're seeds are probably good, that's just what we can expect. Get them off the heat mat immediately! I cooked mine... I came across a pic of a seedling that looked just like mine and it was due to overheating of the soil. I guess it makes sense since you can start hardening off artichoke very early and they like cool. I planted 6 and got 3 to germinate, and just planted a few more the other day. It will be fun to see if we can succeed! I am sure we'll figure it out :)

  10. Thomas it looks like you are off to an amazing start, and I'm a bit envious since I only got started yesterday. ;) I sowed some seeds outdoors: Nantes carrots, several varieties of radish and Walla Walla sweet onions. I even did a seed mat of leeks, but then came to the realization that they are not supposed to go outdoors until the danger of frost is past. Now what do I do? lol

    Have a wonderful weekend.

  11. The photos of your seedlings are wonderful. Thanks for posting them. I can't add any comment on the artichoke germination as for I have never grown them. I can say, some things are just buggers to grow. I love lavender and over the years have tried seed starting and direct sowing and have never had any germinate. Frustrating for sure.

  12. Well you win some and lose some. Hopefully your artichokes will eventually come up. At least all of your other seedlings look great.

  13. A friend of mine wants me to grow artichokes. I'm glad I decided not to. Your thumb might be greener than mine, so none of mine would come up! :)

  14. The seeds from Johnny's should be good, my seeds from them have always outperformed the rate listed on the packet, so hang in there. The germination rate is different for all things, unfortunately those chokes just aren't high on the list....hopefully they are just being pokey.

    I had onions seeds purchased last year that have zero germination this year, not cool. (They weren't from Johnny's or I probably wouldn't be having this problem.)

  15. I'm really starting to like those soil blocks. I hope you continue to show pictures of them as the seedlings progress, because most people don't show them.

  16. Thomas..this is wonderful...little sprouts of spring.....

    more later, my friend

    oh..i am off to get sweet pea seeds today.....

    i'll be thinking of you


  17. This is a very interesting post to read.You might be tempted to start your seeds in a sunny window instead of investing in a hanging fluorescent light and setting up a seed-growing shop in the basement.
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  18. On the artichokes ... a few tips. I often score the seeds with a knife, then place in wet paper towels on a heat mat for a few days before planting They can take up to 2 weeks to show. Then once they DO show, let them stay dry. They can damp off in wet blocks.