Seed starting chronicles 2013

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RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

Claire, Good for you!
For various reasons, most of us experience an overall germination rate of around 50% with our endeavors of species previously tried and untried.  That is, around half of the species planted have no germination at all (for the first season, at least).  Now doesn't that make you feel better, that you will only have to deal with 175 pots?  :o :o :o

I found it interesting in the eranthis thread on the SRGC forum, that some Eranthis sp.  have two seed leaves, and some just one.  http://www.srgc.net/forum/index.php?topic=9951.msg265963#msg265963
Eranthis (Shibateranthis) pinnatifida should only have one.

Cockcroft wrote:

We've been stuck at 40 degrees most days and nights for almost a month now, so I was surprised to see things starting up already.

Most of those you mention are listed as warm germinators.  Obviously, it has not been 40F all winter for you, but it's a testament to nature's diversity and adaptability.

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When I bought some bags of Fafard 52 mix (which is basically ground bark), I also got some Metro 360 (coir) to play with.  This ground coir is finer than what I envisioned, and it holds a lot more water than I expected, too.  GreenRoofer, I will be interested to see (in the future) if you formulate any preference, good or bad, with the coco peat.  I see it as the same as the Metro 360 I have.

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

ClifflineGardens
ClifflineGardens's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2013-01-14

Well, with the Coco peat, my frame of reference is peat moss, which I love and hate. The coco peat isn't hydrophobic when wet, which I REALLY like. I've read the pH is more neutral so that's good. My soil mix for alpines so far has been -

80% equal parts sand, pea gravel, perlite, fuller's earth (oil sorb)

20% half and half coffee grinds and peat moss

The coffee grinds seemed sustainable to me, but after a month they stop draining. The peat moss might be making the mix acidic, so I added a little liquid iron to my watering. I've only got two planters with my 'desert soil' mix, which is half and half sand/gravel and a few handfuls of coco peat. I've never worked with anything this lean. I'm very excited! The only thing is, it's way too heavy, at least 80 lbs. I wish I had added a bunch of perlite. I don't like the way perlite floats up to the top, it draws my eye and looks cheap to me. But my back appreciates it. 

ClifflineGardens dot com

Fort Collins, CO zone 5b

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

RickR wrote:

Cockcroft wrote:

We've been stuck at 40 degrees most days and nights for almost a month now, so I was surprised to see things starting up already.

Most of those you mention are listed as warm germinators.  Obviously, it has not been 40F all winter for you, but it's a testament to nature's diversity and adaptability.

Rightly or wrongly (maybe someone can tell me which; in any case, I'll pull out the books and refresh my memory)... I've never taken Deno's results completely literally.  I've always assumed that "warm germinators" were just those that don't need fluctuating temperatures to break down germination inhibitors, not that they actually need warm temperatures to germinate... ?
Similarly, I've always assumed that the details of Deno's practices (e.g. 3 month temperature periods) were made constant for the purposes of experimental integrity (i.e. for consistent comparison with the control sets).   For example, it may be that some species actually need that long a chilling period, but that many don't and will germinate when once brought out to warm temperature after a shorter period...  ??

Wow, sounds like a great start for a lot of cool things, Claire!

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

I don't bother neither with different germination regimes nor soil mixtures. I usually make  a mixture of some ordinary garden soil, sand, grit, perlite and peat.  I place almost all the pots outside and let them experience the natural weather and usually have very good germination. If they start germinating during the winter months they are brought inside. The problem starts later when the seedlings can be damaged by slugs and other critters as I have to place them outside again due to lack of space inside.

Here are 4 pots (of about 20) with seedlings brought inside. Two with Helleborus, one with Trillium and one with Erythronium. They've been outside since last winter till germination started in January.

 

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

cohan
cohan's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-02-03

Lori- your comments put me in mind of Alplains germinations guidelines where each species that needs cold stratification is given a specific number of weeks- 4, 8, 12  etc..

west central alberta, canada; just under 1000m; record temps:min -45C/-49F;max 34C/93F; http://picasaweb.google.ca/cactuscactus  http://urbanehillbillycanada.blogspot.com/

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Hoy wrote:

I don't bother neither with different germination regimes...  I place almost all the pots outside and let them experience the natural weather and usually have very good germination.

So you are actually cold stratifying the seeds but you are letting nature do it for you... the perfect solution.  :)
I would do this too (used to do a lot of it) but it is not until late in spring that the seeds sprout outdoors here under natural conditions.  By stratifying indoors, I can get a few months of indoor growing, and have reasonably-sized seedlings to plant outdoors in the same season... at least that's how I rationalize it.  Being able to stratify seeds outdoors and yet get germination early (i.e. during what is still the depths of winter here) is definitely an advantage of living in those zone 7-8-ish maritime climate areas!

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

deesen
deesen's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-01-31

Hoy wrote:

I don't bother neither with different germination regimes nor soil mixtures. I usually make  a mixture of some ordinary garden soil, sand, grit, perlite and peat.  I place almost all the pots outside and let them experience the natural weather and usually have very good germination. If they start germinating during the winter months they are brought inside. The problem starts later when the seedlings can be damaged by slugs and other critters as I have to place them outside again due to lack of space inside.

Here are 4 pots (of about 20) with seedlings brought inside. Two with Helleborus, one with Trillium and one with Erythronium. They've been outside since last winter till germination started in January.

[attachthumb=1]   [attachthumb=2]

Same regime, same problem, different mix.

David Nicholson
in Devon, UK  Zone 9b

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

Lori wrote:

Similarly, I've always assumed that the details of Deno's practices (e.g. 3 month temperature periods) were made constant for the purposes of experimental integrity (i.e. for consistent comparison with the control sets).  For example, it may be that some species actually need that long a chilling period, but that many don't and will germinate when once brought out to warm temperature after a shorter period...  ??

You're absolute right here. And Dr. Deno does explain in detail.

Lori wrote:

Rightly or wrongly ... I've always assumed that "warm germinators" were just those that don't need fluctuating temperatures to break down germination inhibitors, not that they actually need warm temperatures to germinate... ?

I'd really like to explore this subject,  so  I started a new thread:
Warm germinators and Cool germinators

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Cockcroft
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-27

Germination update:
Sown in January, 2012 and up this week:
 Fritillaria rhodocanakis ssp. argolica
 Iris sp. (AGS -- Juno type, white)
 Paeonia veitchii
Sown this winter and up this week:
 Arabis blepharophylla                             Balsamorhiza incana
 Calochortus weedii var. vestus                Centaurium venustum (Zeltnera venusta)
 Cortusa matthioli 'Alba'                           Incarvillea compacta
 Meconopsis "napaulensis" (garden hybrid)  Nepeta laevigata
 Phyteuma scheuchzeri                           Primula orbicularis
 Primula polyneura                                  Primula waltonii
 Rhodiola heterodonta                             Silene californica
 Stenotus stenophyllus
 Lots of Meconopsis baileyi and its hybrids

Claire Cockcroft
Bellevue, Washington Zone 7-8

cohan
cohan's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-02-03

I have a number of things to sow, some of which I'm finding recommendations for several weeks of warm before cold treatment- not things I'd think of as warm/cold/warm germinators, such as spring ripened woodland seeds but things mentioned for example in the Ontario Rock Garden germination database as fall ripe seed, wanting a few weeks warm before cold-- eg:
Androscae carnea ssp halleri- ORG site says 6 weeks warm then 6 weeks cold
the Kootenay guide says  2-4 weeks warm, 4-6 weeks cold

Kristl says requires cold treatment, but I didn't get the seed from her, so I don't know whether that's her full recommendations...
Any thoughts? Does it need the warm before cold? I just got the seed and if I keep it at warm for too long I could be running short on outdoor stratification time..

A couple more Bupleurum stellatum- ORG says warm or cycling
Kootenay says 2-4wks warm, 4-6 cold

Campanula cenisia- ORG says warm
Kootenay says 2-4 wrm, 4-6 cold

Saponaria lutea- ORG says 6 weeks warm, 6 cold
Kootenay says 2-4wrm 4-6 cold

Does anyone generally give things a few weeks warm before cold? I give a few days usually to absorb moisture, then outside for stratifying.. At this point, we will surely have many weeks yet with freezing temps much of the time, I could probably give things a couple of weeks warm indoors before out, but in case of an early spring, I don't think I would take a chance on long enough stratifying if I kept them in for 6 weeks...

west central alberta, canada; just under 1000m; record temps:min -45C/-49F;max 34C/93F; http://picasaweb.google.ca/cactuscactus  http://urbanehillbillycanada.blogspot.com/

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