Spring brings new life

We are now the proud parents of so many seedlings I honestly cannot even begin to count how many we have in the seedling trays at the moment. I’ve uploaded some pics of the little blighters to the flickr account and they are under the “Spring 09″ set. We had been experimenting with the best was to get the most seedlings germinate from the same amount of seed, and it appears one method stands way out in front when we look at the trays now.

When we were looking for advice on how to start the seedlings, I can tell you everyone had a different way and suggestions of doing things. Here are some of the failures we experienced:
Planting into a tray prepared with half sand half potting mix – FAIL
Covering seed with a very fine layer of sand after sprinkling onto surface – FAIL
Planting individual seed into punnets – FAIL
Planting into straight native potting mix – FAIL

Other than the seed per punnet method, all of the failures were all planted at the same time from the same batch of seed using the same seed application method. We still had some seed shoot from all of these, however on the basis of results for cost and time involved they were miserable failures. A dozen seedlings in a tray is no comparison to 200-300 using what I will now call our best practise method.

The best practise method tray was planted by using an old spice mix jar with a shaker lid (like the McCormicks pre mixed spice rub jars). After filling the tray with pure propagating sand and wetting it to saturation, we mixed a quarter teaspoon of seeds with a half full jar of dried, sieved sand rolling it around rather than shaking it to evenly disperse the seed. By upending the jar and quickly moving it across the surface of the tray we got a fairly even dispersal of seeds, lightly covering them as well as spreading them evenly.

The tray was then watered using a spray pack until we were once again satisfied it was saturated, before moving it to the seedling greenhouses we have built. Daily watering to maintain that saturated state saw seed sprouting in under a week. Once it was clear which method was working best, we replicated this into another 20 trays. Most interesting is these trays had all sprouted before one of the FAIL methods even had a shoot showing.

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