Seed gardening is the most rewarding type of gardening especially when you get your own seeds from the original plants. To take a small, dormant capsule of life and unlock its glorious potential makes you appreciate even more the good things in this world!
Seed Germination: Occasionally, seed may fail to germinate. Common causes are:
a) Seeds are sown too early when soil temperatures haven’t warmed up enough
b) Seeds are not sown at the recommended depths
c) Seeds are not kept consistently moist and/or
d) Unusually cool or wet weather occurs
Extensive sowing information usually included on the inside of the seed packet if you buy your seed from store.
Soil: Adding organic matter such as compost or manure to your garden soil will help create healthy soil. Don’t over fertilize your vegetable garden. Excess nitrogen can sometimes cause excessive foliage growth and few flowers or vegetables. We experienced over putting horse manure and made the leaves wrinkly and slowed down bearing fruits. Too much ammonia could kill the plants also.
Spacing: Spacing between plants is important for proper development. Proper spacing allows for adequate sunlight, air circulation and room for roots to grow without competition.
Diseases: Many plant diseases can be prevented by starting with high quality seeds and good gardening practices such as rotating your crops to different locations within your vegetable garden, and removing diseased plant material from the garden.
Pests: Refer to the information on the inside of the seed packet or if you produced your own seed, you can just monitor yourself and use organic pesticides.
Sunlight: Vegetable plants and most flowers crave sunlight. Without enough of it, they get leggy and don’t produce flowers or vegetables. Most vegetable plants need at least 8 hours of direct sunlight. Some root crops (carrots, beets) and leaf crops (lettuce, kale) can manage with 6 hours of direct sun. For store bought seeds, check seed packets for individual recommendations.
Weeds: Weeds compete with seedlings and desirable plants for water, light, and nutrients. Also, they can harbor harmful insects and disease. Keep flower and vegetable beds weeded all season, particularly during initial seedling emergence. To identify which emerging seedlings are from the seed you have sown, see the seedling drawing on the inside of the packet (back of the plant tag) or familiarize yourself of the seed you plant so no confusion.
Mulch: Mulch is a layer of almost anything, grass clippings, leaves, bark, newspaper – placed on the surface of the soil in order to maintain even soil moisture and prevent weeds from coming up. Mulch should be applied thickly, several inches if possible, to keep weed seedlings from emerging.