Seeds, Sowing and Seedlings (Part 1)

On the seeds

Taking into account the conditions on our garden, our knowledge, time, and price, in sowing, we must decide whether to sow outdoors, whether to grow seedlings or buy them.

Everything has its strengths and weaknesses: direct sowing is convenient and simple, but the product is late and we cannot control the environmental conditions; the cultivation of seedlings allows to control the environment and sow single plants at the same time, but for the cultivation of quality shoots it is necessary to have a lot of knowledge; the purchase of seedlings instead is the simplest, but also more expensive.

Plant resistance decreases stress during sprouting or at the onset of growth. The seed age affects successful sprouting – a younger seed contains more food. We need to ensure that the plant sprouts quickly and with as few problems as possible. If we want to use old seeds, we must do it in good conditions and not for the first difficult spring sowing in the cold earth. For successful germination of lettuce, pea, broad beans, radish, rocket and watercress, the earth must have at least 5 ° C, for other plants at least 10 ° C.

Good germination is typical for:

  • only one year: parsnip, most herbs, and aromatic herbs, comfrey, flowers;
  • up to two years: onion, leek, parsley, carrot;
  • three to four years: beans, lettuce, peas, watercress, cucumbers, courgettes, melon, chard, pepper, celery, spinach, tomato, radicchio;
  • longer: eggplant, endive, cabbage, most of the other crucifers, sweet corn, radish in horseradish, beetroot.

The only exception is the lamb’s lettuce that the first has worse germination – so it is good to buy it in the spring when the stores still have supplies from the previous year. We can also help you by placing it in a ventilated bag for as long as possible in the freezer.

In spring, we check our seed supply. Those older than four years should be thrown away; if the envelopes are open, we throw away even those over three years old. We test the germination of the seed: we put more layers of paper napkins on a plate, and we bathe with water (we pour the superfluous water). Place the seed over the entire surface evenly. Wrap the dish with food film. Light is important only for the seeds that need it for sprouting. We wait a few days for the first leaves to grow (maximum 10-14 days). For the seed to sprout successfully outdoors, it must have roots and leaflets.

We can disinfect the seeds by soaking them for 20 minutes in chamomile tea or sage (cold), we can instead accelerate the sprouting if in diluted tea of ​​one of the two plants we leave the seeds overnight.

We treat the seeds with caution, conserve them in a dry, cool, and dark environment (heat and humidity cause the loss of nutrients). They are harmful to seeds:

  • exposure to the sun (even the seeds in an envelope are exposed to the sun),
  • shots (at the bottom of a heavy shopping bag …),
  • humidity (while working in the garden, we do not place the envelope on the ground).

Upon purchase, we read the information on the envelope carefully. Parsley and parsnip are often confused because of the images. We must be careful about the quantity in the package and the year of production. Before buying, we check the sachets stored from last year to find out which varieties are good for us.

Variety, hybrid, genetically modified organism

Some general information on what is variety, hybrids, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).


The cultivated plants are the result of the long work of the man who, among the wild plants, sought, selected, and sowed those that were best suited to him in a given period. Thus, over the millennia, groups of plants have been formed that are totally equal to each other, at least when their product is gathered – technological maturity.

Descendants look a lot like their parents. Such a group of plants is called a variety (today for the variety it is also important that such a group of plants is officially tested and possesses the certificate of government institutions that can be called varieties). If we cultivate the seeds for our garden, then we take only the seeds of the plants, the characteristics of which we like the most and not of those that by chance we have not eaten.


It is a natural phenomenon when sometimes two completely uninteresting plants of a species give a good descendant. This was soon exploited by the seed industry: they purposely cultivated “pure lines” of some plant species and searched for such combinations that gave good descendants. The cultivation of these plants helps to prevent surprises, to obtain a greater product and greater immunity to diseases. But these are more demanding plants, and in the absence of nutrients or water, they may not make it. Due to the more complicated preparation, the seeds are even more expensive. The envelopes are indicated with the letters F1, mix, or hy at the name of the plant. It makes no sense to reproduce these varieties in the future because the next generation could already be much worse.

Genetically modified organisms (GMO, GMO)

We get genetically modified organisms if, with the help of technology, we include a part of the genetic code of a living being in the genetics of the other being. We do not yet know the effects of such manipulations well – although good plant characteristics (eg, greater resistance to disease) cases of allergies and other problems with GMOs are also known.

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