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FutureStarrA Very Small Seed
A Very Small Seed
When you're planning your garden, it can be tempting to pass over a wide range of plants that have tiny seeds. From smaller seeds such as brassicas or carrots to the truly minute tropical orchid seeds that appear as no more than a fragment of dust on the wind, these tiny seeds can require some special handling to get the best germination rates, seedling spacing, and productivity. From the tried and true to new ideas you may not have considered, this article will help you plant and care for your tiny seeds. When you're sowing very small seeds, there are any number of issues to overcome to get the seeds planted with the proper spacing. We've all had too many seeds fall out of the packet or our hand onto the garden soil. Though this is a simple fix with larger seeds such as melons, corn, squash, or beans, smaller seeds are much harder to pick out from the soil matrix of a well-prepared garden bed. Strong winds can blow the seeds right out of your hand, scattering them across your garden and making it difficult to pick out which plants are weeds and which have been inadvertently scattered. Once the seeds are planted, they require constant moisture and high humidity to sprout and grow successfully into strong plants. Though this may seem like a daunting list of difficulties, with a few tips, you'll be an expert small-seed gardener in no time.
Multi-purpose aids: Every household has any number of planting aids available that typically serve other purposes. A moist toothpick works well to pick up a single tiny seed and deliver it to the soil surface, where it can be gently scraped off onto the soil. Tweezers can be used to place individual seeds if you want the seeds to remain dry until they are watered. A folded paper, preferably of a stiff weight such as cardstock or a manila envelope, allows you to tap the paper to slowly move individual seeds down the fold to the soil. A teaspoon can also be used to limit the number of seeds falling to the soil within a particular area. Salt shaker: Whether filled with seeds alone or with another soil media, a salt shaker provides you with even distribution of seeds across your row or fill area, as only seeds of a particular size can fall through the holes in a controlled manner. This method works especially well if you're planting a square metre garden and need to fill a space rather than a row, as the spacing of holes in most salt shakers is more conducive to a wider planting than a single straight line. If your salt shaker holes are too large for your seeds, a small bottle with a plastic cap may work if you melt holes in the cap with a hot needle or very small nail held in a pair of pliers with the tip held in a candle or stove flame.
Premix with media: One way to space out your small seeds is by mixing your seeds with fine sand or another fine, dry soil mix. Some gardeners will run a bit of soil media that doesn't contain sand through a food processor or a blender to get a finer media mix for small seeds, though you may want to restrict this to appliances that have a glass jar that will not scratch as readily as plastic. As the seeds become distributed throughout the media, fewer will fall into a single space as you're planting. Once the media and seeds are mixed, simply sprinkle the mixture along your row, pat gently into place, and water with one of the methods mentioned below. Make a seed tape: Though we often think of seed tape as a commercial preparation, it's actually very easy to make a homemade seed tape. This allows you to have the ease of this type of planting without the limitations of available varieties from commercial seed companies. Cut strips of paper from a newspaper or paper towel roll, then make a mixture of one part water to four parts flour to create a paste. Dab the mixture onto the paper at the intervals recommended, then place a seed or two on each dab of paste and let it dry. This has the benefit of allowing you to handle the seeds in a controlled environment, where dropped seeds can be easily seen on a flat tabletop and no wind blows them out of your hand. The paper and paste will dissolve after planting, leaving the seed in place and perfectly spaced. (Source: www.theseedcollection.com.au)