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poor seed germination

c
cleopatra999 May 25, 2009 07:15 AM

I am specifically thinking of my peas, but I have had poor seed germination in a lot of seeds. Mostly ones that I opened last year. Do seeds not last from season to season? Are there certain seeds that will work better in certain areas? Just because I can buy it at my local seed shop, does that mean it should grow here? I am following timing charts for my area. are certain brands better? what about organic are they not as good? which a lot of mine are.

last year I got about the same germination on my peas, which makes me think either location in my garden or the seed. I am going to buy some more seeds (different brand) and resow, in the same area, next year I may need to move them.

We have not had too much rain, I have had too water the beds a lot. We have had cool weather (even some snow). I am in Zone 3.

This is our second year with the garden. We added a lot of compost to it this year. No fertilizer though.

  1. a
    Alan408 May 25, 2009 07:40 AM

    Do seeds not last from season to season? Seeds loose their viability over time, most (all?) seeds are dated, best used before the on the package.

    Are there certain seeds that will work better in certain areas? Just because I can buy it at my local seed shop, does that mean it should grow here? I am following timing charts for my area. are certain brands better? what about organic are they not as good? which a lot of mine are. Some plants do not do well in certain areas, I was not able to grow melons when I lived with my parents. I haven't noticed a difference in brands, and I have received mislabled seeds. Plants have "needs", hours above or below certain temps. Tomatoes (for example) do not grow when the temps are below 50, they don't die, they just don't grow.

    last year I got about the same germination on my peas, which makes me think either location in my garden or the seed. I am going to buy some more seeds (different brand) and resow, in the same area, next year I may need to move them. It is advisable to rotate your crops, don't plant the same things in the same area year after year.

    We have not had too much rain, I have had too water the beds a lot. We have had cool weather (even some snow). I am in Zone 3. You may have planted too early.

    This is our second year with the garden. We added a lot of compost to it this year. No fertilizer though. Compost is good for nutrients and holding moisture, but too much compost is not as good as a balanced mix. If your composted wasn't fully composted, it will draw nutrients instead of adding them.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Alan408
      c
      cleopatra999 May 25, 2009 08:08 AM

      thanks for the tips. I don't know that I planted too early, aren't you supposed to be able to plant peas as soon as the ground is workable?

      I have rotated some of my plants, but I cannot rotate that easily (small plot). I know some say every year, others say every 2 years, I plan to trade them with my beans next year or build a second trellis for them.

      I will look at the expiry dates on my seed packets.

      I know different plants won't grow in different conditions, I don't put my toms or pepps in the ground until June. Until then they stay in the nice warm greenhouse :) we cannot do all our planting at one time for the season, you have to stagger it/

      We are trying to balance out our soil, I feel that this takes a while...patience. I believe that the compost was fully composted, it looked like it.

      1. re: cleopatra999
        m
        mudster May 27, 2009 03:14 PM

        Provided that they were stored in a cool, dry place, seeds that are only one year old shouldn't have any trouble germinating.

        I think the most likely culprit was soil moisture or temps. Two things to try next year: Cover the soil with black plastic or landscape fabric a week or two before planting in order to raise the temperature a bit. You also try treating the peas with an inoculant before planting them. (More here: http://www.yougrowgirl.com/grow/peas.php)

    2. k
      Karen_Schaffer May 28, 2009 01:58 PM

      Where did you store your seeds? For longest life, keep them cool and dry. If you have hot, humid summers, that can be a challenge. Airtight containers with desiccant gel packets can help.

      If the seeds ever dry out during the germination process, that can do it too. They don't have any reserves to cope. The cool temps shouldn't have been a problem for the peas though maybe for other things. They do need a good bit of sun, though. Hope the spot isn't shady.

      Don't stress about the rotating crops business. Most people don't have the room to rotate and mostly people don't have a problem. Peas and beans even build up beneficial microorganisms in the soil and like to be planted in the same spots.

      Good luck!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Karen_Schaffer
        a
        Alan408 May 28, 2009 09:38 PM

        I keep leftover seeds in the fridge. The world seed bank is in a cave with temps around 0 (F).

        I have had problems with tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplant from not rotating. I don't have enough room to rotate, I accept that I will have reduced yields due to placement. When I planted tomatoes in the same sun drenched location, they first developed blossom end rot from calcium deficiencys, then suffered wilt. Cucumbers and eggplant planted in the same place for consecutive years suffered from increased aphids.

        FWIW, I fixed the calcium problem with egg shells, and moving the cucumbers and eggplant reduced aphids, skipping a year eliminated them for 4 years, then last year they were in the other bed and were heavily infested with aphids, no cucumber or eggplant this year, I have noticed the ant trails to the prior location of the cucumber/eggplant this year, they are finding tomatoes and marigolds and are just walking by.

        I plant fava beans in the winter to "fix" nitrogen, there is a benefit to planting veggies that can take advantage of the stored nitrogen, vs planting veggies that continue to "bank" nitrogen. A google search for "beneficial microorganisms in the soil. Do you have a reference?

        1. re: Alan408
          k
          Karen_Schaffer May 28, 2009 10:41 PM

          This addresses it in part:

          http://www.cababstractsplus.org/abstr...

          The idea is that legumes, in particular, build up a network of beneficial bacteria that increase year after year. Legume innoculants are sold to try to emulate some of that benefit. Old-time farmers had a tradition of putting some dirt from old bean fields into new bean fields, thereby transferring some of the beneficial bacteria to the new fields.

          Sympathies on the rotation problems. Most of us don't have the room to rotate. Skipping years or growing in containers are about the only recourse. Cardboard collars with Tanglefoot can help deter the ants which can reduce the aphid population, letting the natural predators get at them without the ants defending the colony. Good luck!

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