They’re Alive!

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I now have five kale and five romaine plants still living, waiting for the magic date of March 1 to go into the cold frame during the day. They have started to look like kale and romaine. I’ve transplanted them again into 3 inch pots and once they settled into their new homes, fed them some fish emulsion. They look happy.

But the broccoli and bunching onions – not so much. I’ve had two sets of each do exactly nothing. Since I followed the seed starting recipe to the letter, I was disappointed. Of course, I’m only working with about half the alphabet…

“Did you put the broccoli under a light?” asked my new friend and seed-starting expert, Patti. Uh, yes I did. Come to find out, broccoli goes under the light only after germination. Another letter to add to the alphabet!

“Did you test for viability?” asked my long-time friend and mentor, Lenora Larson. Uh no. And then a light bulb went off over my head.

Back in February at the county extension office gardening class, the instructor spent what I thought was an inordinate amount of time talking about wrapping a few seeds up in paper towel and baggies. She even passed around samples of what happens when you leave the seeds for a couple of days and then come back. At the time, I had no idea what she was doing. New gardener here!
But now having thrown away at least $7.50 worth of perfectly good – to my mind – seeds, I understood. Test for viability, or in other words, are those seeds alive? Since I didn’t trust my memory, I went looking online for the process.

Everyone in the world must use this process to test for seed viability. Take some wet but-not-dripping paper towel, throw a few seeds on it but don’t let them touch each other, put another wet paper towel on top, roll, and put the rolls in marked baggies.

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Put the baggies in a warm place for a couple of days and voila! The seeds will germinate or not, and you will know about the viability of the contents of that seed packet. And so I did.
Now, two days later, I have my answer for broccoli. They’re alive!

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Bunching onions? The best I can say is that the seeds swelled up, so I returned them to the baggie and will wait another day.

To be continued …

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6 thoughts on “They’re Alive!

  1. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason of what succeeds and what doesn’t. I always look up the germination temperatures for my seeds though. For broccoli, they like it a little cooler than peppers or tomatoes. Makes sense, because these veggies grow and flourish in different times of the year! Also, I just tried lavender seeds this year and I had to sow them and place in a baggie in the frig for 3 weeks to break their dormancy! I am crossing my fingers with those. Love your blog!

    • Thanks for your kind words! I haven’t had much luck with lavender here, even from plants. I’ll check my broccoli soil temperature again … The charts and graphs are starting to take over my work area!!

  2. You’ll remember from the class, you can plant those successful hatchlings from your viability tests. Gently drop on the soilless mix, barely cover, then proceed to the lights. With your attention to detail, you are well on your way to becoming a SUPERB gardener!.

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