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DoGooder wrote: BlakeInCanada, I sympathize with your seed planting problems. The first seed I planted was grass and I tried three times before I was successful. For grass seeds in my zone (5b) I found the following method successful:
* mix 2 parts soil with 1 part seed
* lightly till soil (1 inch deep)
* put 1/3 inch layer of seed mix on soil
* cover with 1/4 inch soil
* water lightly 2 to 4 times a day until sprouts are 1/2 inch (sprouts usually appear 4 days after sowing)
* water once a day for about 4 days
* water once a week for 1 month
* After a month grass becomes hardy and lush
I learned a lot depends on the viability of the seed. After overwintering in a plastic bag the seeds took 1 month to germinate and there were fewer sprouts. So it might not be the methods that you're using but maybe the seeds (or the store you got them from) is the problem. I recommend checking Dave's Garden The Garden Watchdog to read about germination rates people have had buying from different stores:
I noticed a very popular seed starting method on this site is the Dino plastic bag method which is basically:
* mix 9 parts water to 1 part hydrogen peroxide
* dip paper towels in solution
* place seeds on paper towel
* fold towel over seeds and place in ziploc bag that is almost zipped shut
* place in refrigerator or freezer
* check every few days to look for germination
* plant seedlings
I haven't tried Dr. Dino's method yet (I plan to soon). I mentioned it because a lot of people say it's excellent for seeds that are difficult to sow. Anyway, I recently was successful germinating a new variety of wax begonia (Begonia Big). The instructions said they should germinate in 2-6 weeks I think, and I got a 93% germination rate in 2 weeks.
This is the method I used:
* puncture holes in the sides and bottom of a lidded plastic container
* find a clay pot that would fit in the container and sand the sides (to remove possible sealant)
* thread mop strings through a clay pot (enough to plug the hole)
* place pot in center of container with threads winding on the bottom of the container
* add potting mix
* add seed (begonia seeds must be placed on top of the mix)
* put the cap on
* fill pot with water every few hours until the mix is moist but not drowning in water
* stop adding water when condensation appears on lid
* place near light (I placed the container in semi-shade near window)
I've attached a photo of the container which is a plastic cookie tub. However, I've run into a problem: a few days after germination the mop threads began to become moldy so I should have sanitized them. They were straight out of a plastic bag but I guess I should have washed them with soap or set them in hydrogen peroxide. I need to transplant the seedlings soon.
I discovered this method on another web site which said to plug the clay pot hole with caulking but I didn't want to wait 2 days for the caulking to dry so I decided to use a wick system with mop threads. So feel free to make changes but this is what has worked for me. Also, I used a germinating mix with a 5-star rating from hundreds of members at a gardening store that I trust (Germinating Mix, Gardeners.com).
Next time I'm going to try a different mix to test whether there's any difference. Also, I sowed during the Full Moon so maybe it was the moon that provided the bountiful seedling harvest! I have lost so many plants trying to grow seeds so I hope this is helpful.