Trouble getting OP seeds to grow! :( Help please!

Fowlerville, MI(Zone 5b)

I have started my OP veg seeds indoors, as the instructions indicate - depth - time to germinate - temperature, water, etc., in Jiffy pods you add water to, that come with the clear lids to make a little green house. I have planted 4 flats - TWICE now - with my OP seeds from Sustainable, Victory, Bakers and other well known OP seed providers, and I only got 6 plants to grow!! Is anyone else having trouble getting OP seeds to grow??

Gainesville, FL(Zone 8b)

Do you mean the little Jiffy-7 peat pellets? I quit using those many years ago because they held water too long and then dried out very quickly. The result was almost always that my seeds rotted before they had a chance to germinate. Since then I've mostly used commericial-type "1020" sized nursery trays and "cell packs" (like those at http://www.greenhousemegastore.com/category/1020-trays) filled with either Fafard Seed Starter Mix or Metro-Mix seed starting media which I obtain locally.

Fowlerville, MI(Zone 5b)

I will give those a try! Thanks for the info and link, rjogden!

In the mean time, I'll whisper a prayer for my seeds..... ;)

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

I use the peat pellets all the time and have the best germination with them. What else are you doing to start your seeds and what kind of seeds are you starting.?

Fowlerville, MI(Zone 5b)

1lisac, I've used them for years too.... This is my second planting; I have no idea why the first ones did not come up after following directions strictly, but when I came home this afternoon and checked them, I found several that had sprouted!!! ....Now, why now and not before????? I have NO idea! But I'm thankful some have germinated!!! :)

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

I have decided that they sprout when they want to. Lol I have some pepper seeds that were sown about 5 weeks ago some are just germinating now...I have no answer.

I was wondering what you were starting bc some plants have different requirements and are difficult to start together. I only start tomatoes, peppers and eggplants in the house.

Hutto, TX(Zone 8b)

I use Jiffy peat pellets with great results. I saturate the pellets with warm water, allowing them to soak as much as they will. After about two hours, I drain any remaining water in the tray by tilting and pouring out a corner of the tray. I scratch the top of the pellet with a toothpick to loosen up the pellet. I lay 1 or two seeds on the loosened mix, then press lightly with a finger to push the seed into the pellet and cover. I use a heat mat, so I put the tray on the mat set for about 80 degrees (F) and cover with the plastic lid. I allow air circulation by propping one corner of the cover open with a pencil laid flat across the corner of the tray. I leave the cover on until about half the seeds emerge, then remove it. I don't water again until the cover is removed.

I also start under florescent lights-- once I take the lids off, I move the lights down to be within an inch of the seedlings. I adjust the lights up as the seedlings grow. I water lightly for a few days, adding water to cover the bottom of the tray, then draining after a few minutes. As the plants get bigger, I use a little more water and wait about 10 minutes before draining. I can say this works well for tomatoes and peppers. I haven't tried other vegetables or flowers.

David R

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Do you have any reason to distrust OP seeds vs F1 hybrid seeds?

I think the main factors affecting germination are temperature, moisture and oxygenation (aeration).

Too cold or too warm will slow germination down and if temps are too extreme, reduce the total % germination.

A tray in a window with direct sun can get really hot in just a few hours!
A tray in a window with a draft can get pretty cold overnight!

If seeds germinate and emerge and grow too slowly, they become more vulnerable to rot and other diseases.

If a seed is moist enough to START germinating and then dries all the way out, it will die, but I assume that none of us are letting trays dry ALL the way out and then being puzzled by poor results.

More of us use a seedling mix that is easily made too soggy. If all the air spaces ("pores", "voids", "channels") fill with water, oxygen can't diffuse in and CO2 can't diffuse out. Seeds and rootlets drown, die and rot.

I used to do that, AND top-water, AND over-water. So I started adding a LOT of screened bark to my seedling mixes to improve aeration even if I over-watered from the top.

I also found an easy way to bottom-water: put a cotton flannel pad between the 1020 tray that holds water, and the cell-pack inserts or plug tray. Then I keep the pad damp but never allow standing water.

If the pad is damp, the bottom of the cell is damp and the mix can wick up enough water for the seedlings without ever filling the (medium-large) air spaces with water. The coarse seedling mix only pulls up CAPILLARY water, not PERCHED water.

If I over-water from the top and flood the air spaces, the mat will pull that perched water down and out of the cell, to where I can suck it out with a turkey baster.

http://allthingsplants.com/ideas/view/RickCorey/652/Adding-Screened-Bark-to-Potting-Mix/

http://allthingsplants.com/ideas/view/RickCorey/646/Bottom-Watering-Seedling-Trays-with-Cotton-Flannel-Prevents-Water-Logging/

Or seeds can be too old, or stored not-dry-enough. Their viable lifetime doubles for every 10% decrease in relative humidity from 50% RH down to 20% or 30% RH.

Kew: theory of desiccants and RH

http://www.kew.org/ucm/groups/public/documents/document/ppcont_014349.pdf



Many Kew Royal Botanic GardensTechnical Information Sheets about collecting and storing seeds, written by Millennium Seed Bank staff.

http://www.kew.org/science-research-data/kew-in-depth/msbp/publications-data-resources/technical-resources/technical-information-sheets/index.htm

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

I use peat pellets, planted shallow like David R, but without the heat mat.
Without the heat mat, germination is on the slow side, but fairly reliable. With the heat mat, sometimes they would get too hot &/or too dry - then not sprout at all.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

I only use the heat mat for certain veggies but a thermostate takes away the guess work. If the seeds sit there too long they will rot. I'm wondering what veggies you are trying to start bc there are a lot I wouldnt try to start together, they have such different germination requirements.

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

An aside from the technique discussion --

In the past I have had difficulty with seeds purchased from some of the boutique seed companies that specialize in heirlooms. Typical problems have been poor germination rates or plants not true to type. I don't have any issues with OP or heirloom seeds that are more widely grown, from these companies or elsewhere. So, I suspect this is a problem with limited sources and a small genetic pool for much of what they sell.

IMO, plaid carrots and purple melons make great fun projects, and every now and then you'll find a winner. But if you want to grow *food*, it's better to stick with either the old fashioned varieties that are regional traditions, or hybrids bred specifically for your conditions. You can always leave some room for experimentation & fun.

Fowlerville, MI(Zone 5b)

Well, this second time around, I got about 50% germination, so I'm grateful for that. The rest were duds.

I have no reason to NOT trust OP seeds vs F1 hybrids. I'm just wondering what the problem is, and is this a common/natural problem with OP because they have not had their weaknesses "engineered" out of them?

I will also try planting some of them right into the ground and see if they perform better there.

Rickcory, I will try the flannel tip. Sounds like a good fix to the problem. :-)

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Bear in mind old heirlooms are typically selected for very specific conditions, especially as the competition among seed companies prompts them to find rarer and rarer varieties. The varieties wouldn't have survived if they were naturally weak, but if you don't have those conditions they may perform poorly for you. (Every now and then you get a surprise, though - short season Minnesota Midget melons bred for cold climates do great for me, because they set fruit before it gets too hot and humid and are done before the worst of the disease season.)

However, F1 seeds have hybrid vigor and are the end product of a lot of plant breeding knowledge and techniques. They also can be weak in the wrong environments, or have some great characteristic, like resistance to a particular disease, that means they need TLC in another area.

There are many very popular varieties which are OP that do quite well in a range of conditions, and are found at nearly every seed merchant. Banana peppers, California Wonder peppers, Cherry Belle radishes, Black Beauty Zucchini, and many more.

TL;DR - Different varieties have different strengths and weaknesses regardless of breeding origin. Choose the ones that have strengths which match your needs and conditions.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

I still wonder if you tried to start seeds together that require different growing conditions, and the issue has nothing to do with OPs or hybrids.

Fowlerville, MI(Zone 5b)

Anything is possible, I guess, 1lisac. I know just enough to be dangerous! ;) lol

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

What type of plants are you starting? I have found that I can start almost anything but it doesn't mean it will grow here. Lol

Fowlerville, MI(Zone 5b)

Tomatoes and peppers! Simple stuff that grows here in Michigan..... :-S

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

I don't start those together. But it does seem like the germinating rate should be better. I have found that tomatoes don't need as much heat as peppers but pepper seeds can take forever to germinate.

Fowlerville, MI(Zone 5b)

Ahhh, gotcha. Well, the second time around, I had more peppers come up than tomatoes.
....I have a lot to learn about germinating seeds. (((sigh))) :-[

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Learning is a never ending process...I have gone back to old seed trays where the seedlings have already been removed only to find MORE seeds had germinated. Still can figure it out. Some peppers are known for taking up to a month to germinate. That's why I ask what you were trying to start. I thought the issue mite be starting seeds that have totally different requirements ie: cukes, watermelon, with tomatoes.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

I dumped out some old seed in the garden last year. One of the things that didn't sprout at all last year is coming up this year. Since it was a dud last year, I didn't jot it down, and now I can't remember what it was!

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Maybe as it grows you'll figure it out. More then once I've had to wait to see what the flower or fruit is to get an answer.

Fowlerville, MI(Zone 5b)

Oh my stars, guys, that's wild! OK, I feel better now. lol It's not just ME! heehee :)

Shawnee Mission, KS(Zone 6a)

Below is information on germinating and growing temperatures for peppers and tomatoes. If you are using last years (or older) seeds you can check the germination rate by rolling some seeds in a damp paper towel, putting the towel in a plastic bag, and keeping it someplace warm like the top of a fridge.

BTW - I find that tomatoes tend to not grow much if the temps are too low.

Peppers
Germination time: 2 to 4 weeks
Germination temp: 80 To 90 degF.
Optimal growth: Once the seedlings have 2 sets of true leaves, they can be up-potted to a 3-inch pot and grown at 70F during the day and 55F during the night."

Tomatoes
Germination Time: 7 - 10 days"
Germination temp: 75 to 80 degF
Optimal growth: 60-70 degF"
Minimun temp: 45degF

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

Word of Caution:
a little too cool, you have slow and uneven germination, but
a little too hot, and you do NOT have any germination AT ALL

Shawnee Mission, KS(Zone 6a)

I agree with pollengarden. Just stay in the temp ranges above and you should be fine. BTW - Those are soil temperatures that are listed above.

Fowlerville, MI(Zone 5b)

Update.... Strangest thing happened. I decided to throw the non-germinating Jiffy pods away but they were too heavy put in a garbage bag, so I sat all the trays outside on my covered front porch to dry. A week or so later I happened to walk near the window and looked down to find about 2 dozen of the seeds had germinated in the bone-dry pods, and with being in high 40 degree temps several nights.

Can anyone explain why they now decided to grow??? Oy!

I gathered them all up, added water to re-hydrate the pod, and now they're growing well....still outside on my porch! LOL

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I swear that plants conspire to mess with our heads, and seeds are the worst.

Risingcreek was trying to germinate some Salvia clevelandii ... for years. Tried everything. Finally gave up and THREW the remaining seeds away on a bare patch of clay for the birds.

A nice stand came up the next spring. Four or five feet tall, I think?

http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/261/





This message was edited Jun 9, 2014 4:06 PM

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Glenda, that's exactly what I discribed happening to me, in my above post. No, I can't explain it.

Fowlerville, MI(Zone 5b)

LOL! Well, at least I know I'm not alone, 1lisac! I can understand different requirements for germination, but in a pod that's b-o-n-e d-r-y, out doors, and in 40 degree temps? .....Crazy, crazy, crazy!!!

I'll make my own next year..... I think I'm done with the Jiffy pods. ;-)

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

It happened to me in cells filled with seed starting mix. I do use the pellets too.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

I had some wildflower seeds (silver lupine?) that went the other way. I planted them in fall because they were supposed to require a winter- long stratification period. They were starting to sprout within a week.
My mother had a dead house plant ( gloxinia?) that she knocked out of the pot against the wall of the house. It grew their several years before it winter-killed. It shouldn't have survived the first frost, let alone 2-3 Colorado winters - especially since it was already dead

Fowlerville, MI(Zone 5b)

Oh my stars, pollengarden! That's crazy!

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

I finally IDed the mystery plant that sprouted this year from last year's sowing. It is Cleome or Bee Plant - I remember now that I was trying some plants for beneficial insects with the veggies. I will save some seed and see if I can figure out when it likes to be sown (it didn't like June)

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

I've found those do best if they are direct sown. I tossed seeds once and never had to again....but I do love them.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

As I recall, I had some seed from the native wild bee plant and a packet of domestic mixed colors. So far they are all the same lavender-pink color, so I think it may be the natives that sprouted.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

I call them Spider Flowers. I had one in the front of the house last yr. now there are too many to count. These are pinkish but all the ones I have are. A Texas Gardening book says to sow the seeds when all chance of frost is gone. I don't think we have any native ones here.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

Well, last year I planted them after all chance of frost was gone and must have been too warm. I planted them in June and they didn't sprout until this spring (or maybe last fall) when it was cooler. They were already starting to bloom this year at the time I planted them last year. So this bunch doesn't like sprouting warm. I just need to figure out whether they prefer early fall, late winter, or spring sowing. Obviously Mother Nature says summer-fall. If it is the native, it isn't invasive here. I guess I will find out!

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