Enjoying a bounty of freshly harvested veggies, fruits and herbs is perhaps the best part of growing your own garden. To get there, gardeners must master the early stages of sowing and germinating seeds. While necessary, this process can leave many of us wondering: why do some seeds have all the luck, while others fail to grow?
Fortunately, luck is a very small part of ensuring seeds are able to germinate successfully. Rather, proper planning and a watchful eye can allow your seeds a great chance of developing into a beautiful and delicious garden to enjoy all year round.
Read further to discover the possible reasons seeds fail to germinate:
Reason 1: Seeds are planted too deeply. This is the number one reason seeds fail to germinate and grow properly early on. As a rule of thumb, plant a seed no deeper than 3 times the diameter of the seed. Also, always follow the package instructions for specific planting times, depth, spacing and location recommendations.
Reason 2: The soil is not prepared well. Adding organic matter such as mulch or compost a few weeks before sowing or planting is paramount to ensuring success in your garden. Organic matter provides microorganisms, rejuvenating the soil and increasing the likelihood of successful germination. Once you sow the seeds indoors or outdoors, gently press the soil so that the seeds can come in full contact with the soil.
Reason 3: The soil is either too hot or too cold. Many gardeners get very anxious to get their gardens started early. But if the soil is too hot or too cold, seeds may fail to germinate and grow properly. Many seeds are unable to germinate if the soil reaches a temperature over 85 degrees F. Likewise, soil that is too cold can also impede germination (especially for warm season crops like corn, squash and beans). Instead, start your garden indoors, or hold off on sowing until the soil reaches a comfortable temperature for your seeds.
Reason 4: Overwatering the soil. It’s easy to get carried away, but keep in mind that the soil should be moist – never continuously wet. Furthermore, try to keep the water at around room temperature, and never too hot or too cold.
Reason 5: Birds and squirrels have taken the seed. While not as likely, birds and squirrels do tend to enjoy larger seeds like corn and beans, and often times fail to leave any trace of their sneaky ways. If you suspect an animal has taken the seeds, replant the seeds and place netting around the garden.
Reason 6: The seed quality is poor. Purchasing packaged seeds from a warehouse or store could result in exposure to rain, extreme temperatures, wind, or other weather conditions that damage the vitality of a seed. At Humble Seed, our themed, bundled packaged are placed in FDA food-safe containers, along with our re-sealable Mylar® bags; keeping seeds fresh when they are delivered to your doorstep, as well as in between plantings.
Reason 7: There was a problem transplanting a seedling outdoors. To get a jump on the growing season, seed starting is a great way to grow seeds in a controlled environment. When ready, there are a variety of vegetables that tolerate root transferring well. These include (but are not limited to): broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, leeks, onions, parsley, potatoes and peppers. However, many find that root vegetables are challenging to transfer, and are best started outdoors.
It’s essential to time transplanting properly. Calm, cloudy days (or an area with shade) can stifle the shock of exposure to a new environment. Likewise, transplanting in the late afternoon is helpful for plants to avoid direct sun exposure for a long duration on the initial transplant day. When plants are transplanted in poor weather, or are exposed to too much direct sunlight early on – they can become damaged or die. However, if you transplanted the seedling properly but still notice some wilting or drooping – hang on tight for a few more days. Plants tend to recover quickly when given the right TLC.