Laura Blishen, Thrive Sustainability
Seeds are inexpensive and if you save your own…free! Why not have a go at growing a summer veggie patch from seed this spring? Harvesting food from plants that you have grown from a handful of tiny seeds is a truly magical and rewarding process, however there are a few keys to success.
Germination: the development of a plant from a seed or spore after a period of dormancy.
Depth: As a rule, seeds should be planted 2-3 times as deep as the seed size.
Temperature: Plants have their optimal temperatures for seed germination so growing vegetables in the right season is key to success e.g. chilli seeds need temperatures above 20 deg C to germinate so are not suitable to sow in winter months.
Moisture: Seed germination relies on adequate moisture. Too little moisture when starting and the seed will fail to germinate. Too much and the seed may rot, or newly emerged seedlings may suffer from fungal problems such as damping off.
If starting seeds in containers, place a clear bag over the pot, or create a grow box out of an old clear plastic storage box can work well to prevent the soil drying out. In early stages of germination, it is very important that you do not let the soil dry out completely.
Light: Newly germinated seedlings will grow long, leggy, and weak if left on a windowsill or veranda where they only get light from one direction. Place in an area where they get overhead light.
In pots or in the ground?
The advantages to growing in containers first and then transplanting are better germination rates due to controlled environment and protection from pests whilst seedlings are young and vulnerable. Some vegetables such as radish and carrots do not like to be transplanted so are best sown directly in the ground where they are to grow. I usually direct sow peas and beans in the ground where they are to grow as they are quick and easy to germinate.
Soil conditions: Soil for germinating seeds needs to be lightweight and free draining but able to hold moisture. If buying a bagged soil look for seed raising mix as opposed to potting mix.
When buying seeds – buy local! Many seeds are imported from overseas, however if you can source locally grown Australian seed you will be growing seed that has had a chance to adapt to our climate and conditions.
If you would like to browse a huge range of seeds and edible plants, or get more advice on growing vegetables from seed pop into Thrive Sustainability at 48 Citron Way, Lower Chittering.