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Complete gardening novice starting out - advice needed for seeds

(11 Posts)
WifeofDarth Thu 31-Mar-16 20:56:39

For the first time I have a garden and last weekend I was enthusiastically sewing seeds in propagators. I have sewn some inside and some outside, according to packet instructions.
All well and good, but I am now wondering how much watering they need, and if they need to be given any air at all.
The propagators inside and out are getting misty, and I'm thinking that's not going to be good as the seeds will go mouldy, is that right?
My inside propagators have a vent, so I am using that now, and that's cleared them but my outside ones don't, so should I open them at all?
Also, this seems like a really daft question, but how do I know when they need to be watered - when the top compost starts looking dry, but the rest is still damp spongy?
Any tips gratefully received

cooper44 Thu 31-Mar-16 22:53:47

humidity is key for germination so the condensation is good. Once your seeds have germinated (the times will vary for different seeds) you can give them a bit of ventilation.
Re water - I make sure the compost is very damp to start with and I rarely have to give seeds anymore water. Once they have germinated and you are giving them ventiliation then they might occasionally need misting - but it is a fine balance. You just want to keep the soil moist rather than too damp.
Once you get true leaves you can prick them out and pot them into normal compost.
It's TOTALLY addictive if you hadn't already realised.

WifeofDarth Thu 31-Mar-16 23:01:56

Thanks for the tips Cooper smile I will keep those lids on tight until the first leaves appear (fingers crossed).
Addictive - absolutely! I'm checking on my 'babies' twice a day.
We did get some seedlings up a couple of years ago, but the slugs and cat got to them pretty quickly so I'm being very protective this time.

cooper44 Thu 31-Mar-16 23:05:36

also make sure they get enough light - not so that they are roasting in direct sun - but they need a good amount of light once they germinate or they get too leggy and flop. have fun!
(re the leaves - the first ones that come through are not the proper leaves - you need to wait for the "true" leaves before you can prick them out - sorry if you know this already and I am stating the obvious.)

JazzAnnNonMouse Fri 01-Apr-16 08:40:33

Once you've pricked them out and re potted them the when do you plant then into the garden?

JapanNextYear Fri 01-Apr-16 08:51:56

I tend to put them out when they are looking vigorous and string, like the bedding plants you buy in the garden centre. So you may need to put them in a bigger pot as they grow, When you move them from the seed tray to thei first pot, make it a small one, 3 inches or so. Then when roots pop out the bottom of the pot, if they still look a bit small, put them in a slightly larger pot.

You also need to harden off before you plant out. So leave the plants outside in their pots during the day to get them used to wind, rain, different temperature and gradually get them used to it till you leave them out all night. About a week or so depending on what the weather is like where you are.

You do have to look after them a bit if you grow from seed, but once you've done it a couple of times you can tell what needs a bit if care and what's going to grow whatever you do to it or not...

WifeofDarth Fri 01-Apr-16 16:44:03

Thank you Japan and Cooper.
My outside propagators are all looking grand -damp and clean under their lids.
But there are signs of white fluffy growth (mould?) on some of the stringy bits of compost on the surface of the propagators kept inside. They are by the window in the kitchen. There is very little direct light but maybe too warm? Should I put them somewhere cooler while waiting for germination? Or take the lids off? Any other suggestions?

WifeofDarth Fri 01-Apr-16 17:11:59

I was picking the mouldy stringy bits off the surface of the compost and noticed that it was very spongy, so packed it down in one of my indoor troughs. It looks better, in that it is darker and mould free but now there's a 1cm gap between the top of the soil and the edge of the container.
Should I top up with more compost?
Should I do the same with the others?
Or should I just bin the lot and start again blush ?

cooper44 Fri 01-Apr-16 18:07:52

mmm sometimes seedlings can go mouldy - I think it's called damping off. But have you actually got seedlings yet?
What sort of compost are you using? You need sowing/seedling compost - anything richer will inhibit germination.
Doesn't matter that the compost is lower than the top of the container.
When you put your compost in you need to firm it down a bit then when you put the seeds on they need good contact with the soil - some need to be covered lightly and some seeds don't. But once they germinate they need a good base for growing - probably not a spongy one.
This is all totally easy and second nature once you've done it a bit.
If there's anything that's mouldy/mildewy I'd be inclined to ditch it- let's see what others think though!

cooper44 Fri 01-Apr-16 18:09:13

PS they need to be about 18 degrees for gemination - seeds all vary but that's an average and works for most. So they might be too warm - although I keep my propagator quite close to an oven and have never had any issues.

cooper44 Fri 01-Apr-16 18:09:37

germination even

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