Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Planting Small Seeds

I find it useful to cover the planted area with clear plastic sheets (such as saran wrap) to conserve the heat in the soil and prevent loss of moisture...
Covered with plastic sheets after planting - April 29, 2010

Less than a month ago I sowed seeds of the following small-seeded vegetables in my garden:

1.  Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
2.  Bok choy or Pechay ((Brassica rapa)
3.  French Breakfast Radishes (Raphanus sativus)
4.  Corn salad (Valerianella locusta)

Sometimes starting seeds directly in the ground can be a little bit tricky depending on the weather conditions.  Some of the factors that can affect germination outdoors are temperature, soil moisture, and pests (birds, snails and insects).  Low temperatures and insufficient soil moisture can delay germination.  Delayed germination consequently result in lower germination rate as some of the seeds loose viability as the conditions shift from favorable to stressful.  Sown seed can also be eaten by birds depending on the depth of soil cover.  The week that I sowed the seeds was warm and I thought that it would stay that way.  On the contrary, the weather got cold the following week; I had to do some remedial tricks to save my seeds.  I find it useful to cover the planted area with clear plastic sheet (such as saran wrap) to conserve the heat in the soil and prevent loss of moisture while the seeds are still in the process of germination.  Seeds need to imbibe sufficient moisture for the germination process to begin that's why it is important to maintain moisture.  Another advantage of putting this covering on the soil is protection from birds and even snails that can eat the emerging seeds.

When the seeds have emerged, I removed the plastic covering. At this point maintained soil moisture is still necessary although the roots have now grown to penetrate further into the soil for water.

Emerging radish-seedlings - May 4, 2010

Radishes - May 19, 2010

Bok choy - May 19, 2010

Basil - May 17, 2010

Of the four types of seed planted, the radishes emerged first, followed by bok choy, then basil.  The last one that emerged was the corn salad plant. 

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