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Starting Seeds in Sponges Experiment

Cassopolis, MI(Zone 5a)

On Saturday I cut up the soft foamy sponges into approximately 1 inch cubes.
I rinsed them well and then soaked for a few minutes with a small amount of bleach and then rinsed them well again.
I notched small holes in the tops of them and then just poked the scissors down into the holes depending on the size of the seeds I was putting in.
The following is what I started and the results so far:

6 Moonflower Seeds
12 Scarlett Runner Bean Seeds
4 Acer Palmatum 'Disectum ornatum' Seeds
6 Love-in-a-Puff Seeds
6 Seeds (3seeds in each cube) Butterfly Pea Vine
3 Seeds in 1 Cube of Ligularia
3 seeds Datura Tatula
3 Seeds Datura Raspberry Swirl
6 seeds Ornamental Cotton
4 Seeds Red Passiflora
6 Seeds Cardinal Vine
4 Seeds Crotolaria
On Sunday evening when I checked 2 of the moonflowers all ready had roots large enough that they were trying to pop out of the holes. (I made the holes bigger and put them down further. Also misted tops of sponges because they felt a little dry to me.
By Monday afternoon Love in a puff seeds were showing some roots, more of the moon flowers and a couple of the scarlett runner beans.
Todays results will be on next post with picture.

Cassopolis, MI(Zone 5a)

I had originally had these in ice cube trays and last night because of the plastic on top of them being so close to the roots I moved them all into small aluminum foil bread pans, which I am much happier with and it is easy to keep the plastic away from the seeds.
12 Scarlet runner beans started and today all but one have roots developing.

Thumbnail by aknapp
Cassopolis, MI(Zone 5a)

6 Moonflower seeds started and today all have roots and two have started to develop leaves.

Thumbnail by aknapp
Cassopolis, MI(Zone 5a)

12 (I think) Love in a Puff Seeds and today 4 have roots

Thumbnail by aknapp
Cassopolis, MI(Zone 5a)

The last photo is the ornamental cotton, and the datura's as you can see one of the ornamental cotton seeds has a nice root on it, and 2 other ones have just started developing roots.

I am so pleased with the results that I have been doing a happy dance all day!!!!
I am seriously regretting doing this so early, because I think I am going to have larger plants than I want, but I guess I will just have to make a hoop house outside for them to go into, depending on our wonderful Michigan weather, which is pretty unpredictable.
If you have any questions I would be glad to try to answer them.

I did forget to mention that most everything that has sprouted so rapidly are things that I had nicked a little. I am now sorry I didn't nick all of them, I love immediate gratification and this is pretty close!!!!

Thumbnail by aknapp
Stockton, CA(Zone 9a)

Wow,
what a terrific idea! I had never thought of this. But I do have a couple of questions. First, I notice that they are not completely pushed down into the foam, so will this only work on seeds that need light to germinate? 2nd question, when you plant them out, do you just put the sponge in the soil & it will rot away? oh, just thought of a 3rd question. Did you also soak these seeds in addition to the nicking?
I am for sure going to try this.
Thanks for the idea AND the pictures.

Tellico Plains, TN(Zone 7b)

Yay Alice!!!

Thumbnail by scooterbug
Dundee, OH(Zone 5b)

What a dream of an idea!! Love the photos you are amazing!!

Chariton, IA(Zone 5b)

I'm anxious to see with the rockwool and the sponge method, what happens as the seedlings grow. Will the rockwool and the sponge give enough (break away) that the stems won't strangle? I've got a lot of stuff in rockwool and have wondered about this from day one. Anyone know? I'd hate to have me seedling become strangled and then break off at that point.

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Sure glad you mentioned you started them early.
I have some of the seeds you started & was just wondering when to start them. & since you are 3 full zones north, I was wondering if I should get really busy, really fast. :~)
Great pixs for your progress report!!!

Stockton, CA(Zone 9a)

well, you inspired me. I had some old foam in the closet & I chopped it up and soaked it like you said & I stuck in all my tree seeds. Now it is covered & on heat. We will see! Thanks again for the idea!

Thumbnail by PudgyMudpies
Dayton, OH(Zone 5a)

Nice photos & explanations, aknapp! Thanks :) So many things to try this season; it sure is fun and will continue I hope...

Cassopolis, MI(Zone 5a)

Pudgy your questions first. This is all very new to me so I am just doing what makes sense to me. I nicked the larger seeds, but not the smaller and now I wish I had. I did not soak any of them, even though some were supposed to be, but I wanted to try it without. If the acers don't do anything in a couple weeks I will probably try something else with them.
The seeds are pushing themselves out of their holes as they form roots, if I am concerned that they might not have enough moisture I have been just grabbing out the cube and stretching the hole bigger and giving it a little push back down.
As to planting them sponge and all I read somewhere that sponges are biodegradable so I am probably going to end up doing some of both.
Tonight I took out the 4 moon flower seeds that I could see green on and put them in seed starter mix. One of the roots had adhered to the sponge so I just trimmed around it as much as possible and left it attached. I will give them a couple days under grow lights and if they look good I will take another photo to show progress.

Scooter thanks so much for the applause I was hurting myself trying to pat my back so often!!!(haha)

Ohio what a nice compliment!!! Thank-You I don't think I am amazing at all I just keep reading posts and deciding to try things. (this could be beginners luck you know)

Brugie I don't know about the rockwool, because mine hasn't come yet, but I don't think the sponges will create a problem. It appears to me that when the roots start to develop they just start to push the rest of the seed out of their cozy little hole and take up the amount of space that they want. I am anxious for some of the smaller seeds to sprout and then maybe I can tell better. The scarlett runner beans and the moonflowers are both big enough to pretty much do what they want.
Oh I would hate to think of you loosing any of your precious seedlings. Am I remembering right that the rockwool is not biodegradable? It seems to me I read that but I don't remember now for sure.
I am also not sure how the sponges compare in price to the rockwool all though I think the sponges are easier to come by and are also easy to work with. I bought packages of 10 sponges each package was a 1.00 and I was able to cut them into either 8 or 10 cubes depending on what I was putting into them. So 80 cubes ends up to be 1.00 which is cheaper than I paid for the individually wrapped rockwool that I ordered. I also got lazy last night and on some smaller seeds started putting 4 in a cube. (I may end up regretting that)
Smockette
Yes I am way early and I am not sure what I am going to do if they get so big I can't handle them. I am on a first name basis with a couple of nursery owners in my small town, so if things get to bad I may be able to beg a small corner of space. After I read about the rockwool I just had to get my seeds out and play a little bit.
This is my first attempt at doing anything inside, and I am having such a good time experimenting that I have a tendency to get carried away.
I converted my breezeway into my own little bit of heaven and have been able to while away some of the winter blahs by just admiring my daturas that I started from the cuttings I got from Poppysue. They are doing really well and I am loving having them baby.
The most I planted of anything was the 12 scarlett runner beans, and I am figuring that if they get to big that I can keep trimming them a little to keep them under control. I have been doing little bits of trimming on the daturas to keep them from getting out of control and taller than I want them. It is working very well, they are just getting fatter and fatter which is great. I only take off an inch or so at a time and it hasn't seem to hurt anything.
Thank you so much for sharing in my excitement!!! It is great to be here!!

Chariton, IA(Zone 5b)

Makes you feel good to get started, doesn't it. I'm so anxious to get my greenhouse open and heated that I can't stand it, but I just can't do it too early or I'll pay dearly, either through the pocketbook for the electricity or maybe through a power outage and no way to heat it when it is zero outside. I just have to wait. I'll be keeping my eye on this forum to read how your seeds are progressing, and yes, I do think that Rockwool is not biodegradable. Keep us up to date.

Middle, TN(Zone 6b)

I am enjoying reading this post Alice. Keep up the picture taking so we can see how this is working for you as time goes by.

I won't start anything right now but will try some of your tested experimental methods when I do. I don't have any where to put anything else so I need to wait a while before starting new plants.

Cassopolis, MI(Zone 5a)

I promise I will keep taking photos so we can all see if this is a good method or not. I am anxious now to see how they do in the starter mix.
I sure did have more fun doing this though than when I start the seeds in starter mix and drive myself crazy trying to keep everything going the right way.
This was way easier and lots less messy. I also like being able to see what is going on (obviously I have a nosiness issue)
One of the other things I really like is that if a seed doesn't sprout you can always just take it out and try something else. It is much harder to do that if you have it in dirt.
I tried doing the deno method and did not have much luck with it, but I am sure it was me and not the method. So I am really hoping that sponges and rockwool will be my salvation for starting seeds.
I will be out this weekend buying more flourescent light fixtures and looking for space in the breezeway to fit in one more table or shelf!!!! I wonder if I could get rid of the washer and dryer without anyone noticing?????? (I am loosing it)
I am signing off for tonight and getting to bed, will be dreaming of little roots sprouting everywhere!!!! (maybe not everywhere I guess I would prefer keeping them in the breezeway)
Alice

Tellico Plains, TN(Zone 7b)

Brugie,
.....I see no problem with the RW dissipating on its own, being an expanded/spun (?) stone product. I have had many seeds just go and poke their own way out 'through' the RW block when germinating. The larger seedlings seem not to have a 'choking' problem either. The RW just seems to melt and expand along with the plant. JMHO

Stockton, CA(Zone 9a)

The things that appeal to me the most, is no gnats or dampening off. I DID make sure that I not only sterilized the sponges like you said, but I also bleached the tray, the spray bottle I used AND my scissors. And my hands were in bleach water too so they were clean. That may seem like overkill, but I really wanted to try to eliminate all possibility of mold or slime since it is sealed closed now. I have my tray right above my computer monitor for the heat since it is on all day, and I often start my seeds there. Only time will tell, but I am really feeling good about this!

Denver, CO(Zone 5b)

Oh Alice! Its so colorful!! :o) You are doing a wonderful job!
I got some loofah seeds today, wonder if loofah would work for next winter. And then just plant the whole thing?
Gosh Alice! You have inspired us all. :o)
Keep up the great job!

barrington, IL(Zone 5a)

for all of the organic gardeners out there, it seems to me that using loofah or natural sponges would pose no problem as to decomposition. however, many "sponges" are made of vinyl which can be toxic if burned and will take hundreds of years to completely decompose. there was a very interesting tv program on cable yesterday exposing the vinyl industry and their knowledge of the toxicity of the vinyl chloride and poly-vinyl chloride products they have been making for the last few decades. looks like i won't be putting up a pvc greenhouse this year. bummer!! i'll just use wood or metal. other than the vinyl issue, i love the idea of starting seeds in some type of natural sponge medium. great idea aknapp.

GOD's Green Earth, United States(Zone 8b)

Wonder if a sea sponge would work? Guessing that it would be biodegradeble???

Chariton, IA(Zone 5b)

Thanks Scoot. I'm sure hoping there won't be trouble down the road with the RW.

Lakeview, MI(Zone 5a)


Have read every thing here with interest and am going to try it for sure. I'll post my progress. Thanks

Zenzinna

Cassopolis, MI(Zone 5a)

Scoot
I was so glad to see your post to Brugie about the rockwool I had been thinking about all of her hard work and am glad to know that all will be wonderful. I am anxious to try the rockwool also, so I am still reading that post for new ideas.
Pudge I forgot to mention that I had sterilized everything else also, so you are not doing overkill. I didn't bleach my hands, but I did was them. I burned my hands really badly in bleach water a couple weeks washing out pop bottles, so now I am more careful about getting my hands into it, but I did use the anti-bacterial soap to wash them in before I started.
I am anxious to hear what you started? Are you seeing any thing yet? Pictures? I love seeing pictures of what everyone is doing!!!
nicksgranny I am on my way out to see if it tells me what these are made out of, if there is any vinyl in them I will be switching to the loofas or natural sponges. We have done enough damage to the environment. So far most of what I have done have been willing to pop right out of the sponges, I am having more trouble keeping them in then getting them out. Thanks so much for the information!!!
Brugie I am so glad Scoot posted that info for you, I hope you slept better last night after reading it!!!!! I felt so much better knowing your babies are all safe and sound!!!
Zen be sure and let us know what you try and how it goes, and don't forget photos!!!
I started a few more things Monday night, but I am now trying to keep from doing anymore until I see the results of everything I have done so far. My rockwool should also be here in another day or so, so then I will have even more choices. I also need to get back to my winter sowing which has sort of taken a back seat to this. (this is a lot more fun)

Tellico Plains, TN(Zone 7b)

Alice ,Also order a bazillion little pots for all your new seedlings, or sumpin'............

Cassopolis, MI(Zone 5a)

Scoot
You are ohhhhh so right, I will get on that right now, I have been looking for some good prices and just not found any I was really happy with.
I am looking for 2 1/2 by 3 I have lots of 4inch ones, and just can't find a decent price at anyplace I have found so far!!!
Thanks

Chariton, IA(Zone 5b)

I bought a case of the 2-1/2 by 4 inch size at our local nursery. 1000 of them for $40.

Stockton, CA(Zone 9a)

Aknapp,
I planted all trees. Bauhinia (which usually come up for me in about 6 days)golden rain tree, jacaranda,ROS, hmm, I wrote it all down, but cannot recall off the top of my head.
I do have a question for you though,
even though I have good bottom heat, the sponges do not feel warm. Did you notice that on yours? I think I might have to put a light over these for top warmth. What do you think?

Cassopolis, MI(Zone 5a)

Thats amazing!!!
I just checked mine and was thinking the same thing. I have mine on heating pads at 70 but the tops of the sponges felt very cool when I touched them. I was just debating what I thought I should do. I put dishtowels over the top of them thinking that might be enough to keep a little more warmth in them. I also noticed that the tops are feeling a little dry and I think I will spritz with the spray bottle a little.
I am going to have to get the scarlett runner beans in dirt today the roots have gotten so big that I can no longer keep them contained in the cubes. I will have to remember big seeds big cubes!!!
I have 2 different Acer Palmatum trees started but so far no signs of anything, but I know these will be the last to sprout, I am just over anxious.
All mine still look happy so I am not going to worry to much about the coolness. According to my soil thermometer they are still at 70 and that should be enough I think. I can crank up the heating pad a notch if I need to but I don't want to fry the poor little things.

Stockton, CA(Zone 9a)

Then I won't worry about them. I did move them to a heating pad (house type not plant)and put it on low, and I placed a light over them. I cannot do much more then that. And if yours were not getting enough heat they would not have sprouted, so I guess the tops feeling cold is not a problem.
I do not see any sprouts yet, but some, actually alot, of the seeds seem to have pushed out of the tops a bit. I put almost ALL of the seeds below the surface just in case there were some that needed darkness to germinate. So there must be something going on to make them raise. Oh, and when I cut my slits, I cut them almost completely through, so the roots would not have a problem pushing through the foam, because a few of those pieces I used are firm, not floppy like the other.
Here is al ist of what I planted:
river birch, st thomas tree, yellow horn tree,bauhinia,cassia alata,franklinia alatamaha,yoshimo cherry,vitex,jacaranda,cotoneaster,chinese tallow,chilean flame tree,tabebuia rosea trumpet tree,koelreuteria,wild gardenia tree & pink dombeya. Oh and I just stuck some madevilla laxa seeds in a couple sponges & put them in with my peat pots that are growing white thunbergia grandiflora and that container is on my monitor. you know what, I think I am gonna add one more sponge in there & put another thunbergia in it and compare the times since I already know what to expect with the peat pot! Yippiee! another experiment. LOL
I will let you know what happens.
Donna

Middle, TN(Zone 6b)

You gals remind me of mad scientists with all of the lightning cracking overhead and everything. Who knows what you will come up with in your experimental labs? Kinda makes me want to join you.

Now, let's see.....where in the heck could I put more indoor plants that need care until spring? There is still the bathtub???? We all know that "too much bathing will weaken you" so maybe our spring baths could come right after we put the plants outside. Bet Shoe hasn't been to this thread yet or he would surely have an answer for me about the bathtub.

Stockton, CA(Zone 9a)

Elena,
you are WAY overthinking this. It is a NOW kind of thing. I am not thinking about where I would put more plants to tend until spring, cuz if I did, I would not be doing this. See? LOLOLOL
You have to be spontaneous. Just go with it. Cuz you KNOW if they sprout you would move your kids out of their rooms to put these babies in if need be. LOLOLOL
Notice it is my kids I am encrouching on this year, hubby already told me that he would not go through another winter eating all his meals off a tv tray like last year cuz the table was covered with trays. LOL (whiner, huh?)
So go for it! It is so fun! I had a bunch of sponges left over & I am trying to find places to squeeze them in.
I can only imagine what hilarious "pearls of wisdom" dear shoe could share with us. LOL

Middle, TN(Zone 6b)

He will have a whole long string necklace full of pearls, I feel certain!

Cassopolis, MI(Zone 5a)

Mad Scientist is a great description!!!
Needless to say I should be doing housework!!!(HOW BORING)
I am way behind on a cleaning project I started Sunday!!!
But I am off to go put the scarlett runner beans into pots, they are just jumping out of the sponges, the roots on some of them are nearly 2 inches long!!!
I will snap a photo before I move them, they are pretty funny looking.
I have so far resisted the urge to open the second batch of seeds that I did Monday night!! I am so proud of myself.
I do wish Shoe would drop by, I would love his input!!!!
I also have an experiment going on in the cupboard with lily seeds, and also some small baby droppings off a bulb that Wandasflowers had sent me. (also things I found on DG)
So far I haven't invaded the house at all and am able to keep everything in the breezeway that I converted(also ideas from DG user) but it may not last.
I don't really think my sons need to sleep in their bedrooms, and they watch entirely too much tv in the living room, and then their is that dining room table that doesn't get used very much.
My little mind is just racing away.
Pudge I agree with you if we thought it through before we started all of our wonderful little seeds, we probably wouldn't have, and look at all the fun we would have missed.

I am not only having a good time with my experiment here but it is so much fun to keep looking at the posts here and on the rockwool and read about everyone else's successes.

Stockton, CA(Zone 9a)

Can you BELIEVE I had to leave & go get groceries??? Man! I about broke my leg tripping into the house to check on my "babies"! But I am home now & have treated myself to planting 6 more sponges with coffee arabica beans. Had to really wedge those puppies in to the container, but hey, their sponge! I turned my heating pad up to medium, low does not seem to produce enough warmth. Will keep an eye on it & turn it back down if needed. If these seeds could talk they would sound like my kids when I am outside the bathroom door talking and their in there. "MOOOOOOMMMMM! GO AWAY! You can tell me LATER" hehehehe

Tellico Plains, TN(Zone 7b)

Alice,
............. Check http://www.novoselenterprises.com
This is where i get most of my pots.If you fill a min. order amount.....
................. 15% Discount on orders over $25...or.......
Case Pricing now 40% Off! 15% Discount included.
........... It's better than free shipping with the discounts I think.

§hirley

GOD's Green Earth, United States(Zone 8b)

I am trying it in a cellulose sponge that I cut up -- can't wait to see how it works. Here's what I'm trying:

3 Double Purple Datura
2 Papaya
2 Coral Vine
4 Pride of Barbados
3 Datura Tatula
3 Tree Senna
3 Texas Hibiscus
1 Gold Esperanza

Gretchen

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Hmmm...somebody mention my name? And BATH, and SPONGE, in the same sentence!?

Ya'll scare me! I've germinated many seeds in sponges before, just didn't do it on purpose...reckon that's what I get for leaving the sponge on the side of the tub (not rinsing it out) after my Spring wash-up). But hey, growing plants add oxygen to the air, and the bathroom needed it.

Alice, your sponge experiment looks like a great way to do germination tests also. I'll have to consider it. (Like nicksgranny mentioned above tho I'd be hesitant to use them sponges on food crops and bury them in the garden, just as a safety precaution.)

I've never messed with the rockwool...don't they use that in hydroponic situations sometimes? Anyone know?

Welp, reckon I better let ya'll get back to your thread. Besides, all this talk about sponges and baths makes me nervous. Next thing ya know you'll have me washing my feet.



GOD's Green Earth, United States(Zone 8b)

Shoe: Here are two links to recent conversations regarding rock wool seed germination:

http://davesgarden.com/t/414428/

http://davesgarden.com/t/411784/rock+wool

Cassopolis, MI(Zone 5a)

Pudge, I had to go to the store also, but I had another 8.00 saved in cash so had to make a trip to the hardware store to get another flourescent light fixture. I now have 7 but I think I need at least another 6. My counters in the breezeway are wide enough to put 4 over the counters with no problem, and I think I have enough room for 3 sets of 4. So everytime I see 8.00 sitting in my wallet I go buy one!!!
Scoot thanks so much for the link, I will be ordering later tonight. Those are definitely better prices than I had found elsewhere!
Gretchen I am curious about how you did the cellulose sponges? Do you have a digital camera so you could take photos. My imagination just isn't very good. When I bought the sponges I bought a package of each kind and when I started deciding how I was going to do it, the foamy ones just looked much easier.
Shoe: FOOD PRODUCTS???? Who has time to grow food!!!! Thats what you have to go to the grocery store to get!!!!(fortunately we have a well stocked farmers market during the summer) But I think that is probably very good advice!!! I looked on the sides of the packages that I had purchased but all it listed was the name of the manufacturer. They were made in the US, which surprised me!!!
Be very careful when you are thinking about water and sponges, next thing you know you will get to close to a bar of soap and have an accident. Does the date for your next bath coincide with any of the Round-ups! We sure would not want to be responsible for getting your seasons out of whack!!!!
I have this really nice large handicapped shower that I keep thinking would be a great place to have plants, its all shiny white on the back, and sides, and plenty of room for grow lights, but I haven't approached my sons yet about giving up showers!!!!
I figure I should be able to sprout some seeds on my indoor outdoor carpet that is in the breezeway. I am just not very neat and there is so many more fun things to do than vacumn that floor!! Given the fact that I keep dropping things that I can't find, I think I should have a few sprouts down there. Maybe I should spill some water also!!!
I took some photos of the scarlett runner beans before I put them in soil, I will post those later.
I used some of my pop bottle stash (the ones that were ready to do my winter sowing in) to put these in, and I am excited about the idea of being able to see when they start to get root bound.
I have to start drinking more pop!!! I'll bet the coke delivery guy is wondering where all the bottles are!! I am thinking maybe I should stand outside one of our local stores and offer people 11 cents instead of the 10 that they get from the deposit. (okay its just a thought) I really like the pop bottles and didn't think I could ever run out with the amounts of it we drink, but life is full of little surprises!!!
I am off to go see what other kind of trouble I can find to get myself into.
I will check on everybody later this evening.

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