Tag: Vitopod

First Germination of 2017

The developing theme for this week seems to be “emergence”. On a personal level, I’ve emerged from my Deep Dark Revision Cave, sitting four RHS Level 2 exam papers yeesterday, and am once again able to focus on things that don’t necessarily have a Latin binomial or a key role within a cohesive garden design scheme. For the time being, anyhow.

Meanwhile, on the growing front, the first seedlings of 2017 have emerged in the Vitopod propagator. First germination is always a lovely moment, one I look forward to immensely every year.

Here are the first few chillis to emerge:

January 2017 Chilli germination
The first three chilli seedlings have poked their cotyledons above the surface and are starting to develop.

They were all sown on January 20th. Note the ones that have germinated are all seeds sown in the middle part of the small trays. I’m assuming they’ve benefited from a lower rate of moisture loss and a higher constant temperature due to the volume of compost surrounding them.

January 2017 Goji Berry germination
These tiny green shoots will hopefully grow on into two varieties of Goji Berry bushes.

These specks of green are Goji Berry seedlings. I’ve sown far more than we’re likely to need for our own purposes so with any luck we’ll have spare plantlets to share around later in the season. They were sown on Jan 31st and emerged yesterday, so that means they germinated in just seven days.

I’m going to leave the seed trays in the Vitopod for the time being, although I’m conscious that the humidity in there is probably too high to do so for too much longer, as it could result in poor growth and maybe even damping off disease. Once the majority of the seedlings have emerged I’ll transfer them to cooler, un-heated (therefore room temperature) trays with lids and let them grow on in peace until they’re robust enough to be pricked out into a more nutrient-rich compost.

How are your seedlings coming along? Let me know in the comments, and please feel free to post links to your own blog as well.

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Comparative Germination: A Few Degrees of Difference

On March 15th I sowed two batches of Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris – Swiss Chard ‘five colours’ – in coir pellets; two seeds (or rather, seed clusters, as per beetroot and other member of the Beta family) per pellet.

One batch of six pellets was put into an unheated mini-propagator unit in our (also unheated) greenhouse. The temperature will have fluctuated from around 2°C at night to temporary peaks of 34°C during the day (memo to self: check auto-vents are working…) with a probable average of about 14°C to 18°C.

The second batch was put into our Vitopod heated propagator, set to 20°C (bringing the chilli seedlings along). The difference in performance between the two batches isn’t entirely unexpected, but is still dramatic:

March 2016 Swiss chard germination
Spot the difference…

As you can see, the heated propagator seedlings have romped away, having germinated in only three days, to the point where they’re probably a little too vigorous and leggy, but hopefully not etiolated. By contrast, the unheated seeds have only just started to break the surface, although there’s a good chance more of them have put out their radicle (initial root) and are on the cusp of putting up their cotyledons (seed leaves).

I’m going to move the germinated seedlings into the greenhouse, where the dull weather that’s set for the next few days should slow them down a little and hopefully encourage them to grow more steadily. I’ll also thin them out to the two strongest specimens per pellet and let them fight it out from there, otherwise there’s a risk that they’ll all compete each other to death. Winner will take all eventually, with one plant per pellet remaining to be potted on. One thing I’ve learned over the last few years of growing: there’s no point being sentimental about seedlings, if you want strong plants for cropping.

The other batch will remain out in their unheated propagator unit as well. Either they’ll catch up eventually or they’ll lag behind a bit, which won’t be a bad thing from a crop succession point-of-view.

It all goes to show the difference that a steady, reasonably high temperature makes when it comes to germinating seeds. Of course, whether it’s worth using a heated propagator – taking electricity consumption and associated environmental factors into account – just to bring on a few early seeds, is a matter for debate and conscience.

(In my eco-defence, I’ll point out that I’m only using the heated propagator for Swiss chard because it’s already switched on to nurture my chilli seedlings, which do need a long growing season and a higher temperature – not currently achievable at a constant rate in the greenhouse – to thrive. If there hadn’t been a spare bit of space in there than I wouldn’t have used it just to run this quick experiment.)

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Vitopod Pro-Tip: Maybe Invest in that Extra Level..?

Yeah, it’s cute when your cat sits on top of the toasty, warm Vitopod propagator. Well worth taking a snap and tweeting it:

But later on, when she decides that vermiculite smells like cat food, works out how to open the top vent, reaches in with a furry paw and trashes half a tray of chilli seedlings trying to get at the good stuff… you’ll wish you’d remembered to put the second level in and raised the overall height a bit more.

Trust me on this one 😐

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