bulb sowing method

Diane Whitehead voltaire@islandnet.com
Mon, 17 Mar 2008 12:43:49 PDT
Mary Sue mentioned she is going to copy my method of germinating  

First off, lots of disclaimers.

I devised this method because of problems I had doing things the  
accepted way.  If you don't have my problems, then don't copy me.


If seeds didn't germinate quickly, then one of these happenings would  
	the pots would dry out in the summer
	all the soil and seeds would wash out when the rains started in the  
	or the rains would be just enough to germinate whatever was flying  
around, and by the next year each pot would
	contain a little forest of conifers and ferns.

So, if I know seeds will germinate quickly or if they are tiny, I sow  
them in pots, or in closed containers if they require high humidity.

If they are big enough to pick up individually (like all bulb seeds),  
then I sow them with a spoonful of damp sterile seedmix in a small  
plastic ziplock bag.  I write all the information on a self-stick  
label.  (name, source, number of seeds, date of sowing, temperature  
regime to follow).

Then I put all the ziplocks with the same temperature regime together  
in a sandwich bag and label it.  I started out just doing something  
like this:  January 40, April 70, July 40,   etc.  However, this  
didn't work for all the seeds in that sandwich bag, so now I make sure  
to put the year as well.

This method makes it really easy for me.  I won't need to check the  
bag in the fridge very often.  The bag that has warm-germinating seeds  
needs to be watched from the first week.  The one that goes outside  
won't need to be looked at till spring.  etc.

As soon as I see the first radicle, I dump the whole lot into a pot.   
(unless I am doing a germination study, in which case I will remove  
just the germinated seeds).

I dump out most bags into a reserved area in the garden after 4 years,  
unless I know that a genus is really slow.  This year, for example, I  
had  8 year old colchicum seeds germinate.  If they had been sown into  
a pot originally, they would never have survived to germinate.

Oh, one more thing I sometimes did:  when we used to go sailing all  
summer, I would unwind some wire coathangers and slide all the ziplock  
bags onto them, then I would hang them from the top of a north-facing  
window.  In case something germinated, it would get enough light to  
grow till I got home.

Diane Whitehead
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
maritime zone 8, cool Mediterranean climate
mild rainy winters, mild dry summers

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