A Watched Seed Never Sprouts?

If this were true, I’d be in real trouble. I’m an incurable seed watcher. From the very first morning after I bury them in their little flats and tin cans, I’m spying on them. I’m lifting up the saran wrap that’s supposed to keep in the soil moisture (but admittedly doesn’t work so well if you remove it every ten seconds). I’m squinting at miniscule mounds of dirt: was that there yesterday? Did a germinating seed push that up? What about that little white thing over there? No, I guess that’s just a tiny rock. Or that? No, just an old root poking up at a purposely deceptive angle.

Every year, I’m convinced that seeds will have now evolved the capacity to germinate at twice their previous speed. It hasn’t happened yet, but when it does, I certainly don’t intend to miss it.

So I keep my seeds nearby. On my desk, actually. Right next to my laptop. And after every sentence I write, I peek over and reexamine the bumps and the nooks and crannies for some sign that something in there is alive. That the seed company didn’t decide this year to sell me a packet of sawdust, meticulously molded and dyed to resemble onion seeds. (My seed company would never do this, but don’t you ever wonder about those seeds at the big chain stores? If they don’t come up, people are just going to assume they were doing something wrong. They’re not going to go back to Home Depot and demand a refund. Don’t tell me you think no one has thought of preying on the beginning gardener’s self-doubt.)

This year, of course, I had an excuse for my hyper-vigilance. I was growing several species I’d never planted before. And thus, who knew? Maybe they would be the sorts of things to sprout overnight! Well, not quite. But the first poppies and onions did emerge on Day 4. The feverfew on Day 5. The holy basil on Day 6. And the roselle on Day 7. The only thing that has yet to make an appearance is the lovage, and it’s only Day 8, so I’m only worrying a little about the sawdust at this point.

These are the onions.
And this is my set-up for seed surveillance.

Now that the seeds are up and growing, though, it’s time to think about getting them what they need on a daily basis. They’re going to need water, of course. Once or twice a day depending on how sunny it is. I keep a water bottle always filled on my desk for this purpose. They’re also going to need as much light as possible. Some people supplement window light with artificial grow lights. I haven’t had much success with that, so my preference is to keep them in a southeast-facing window in the morning and then move them to a southwest-facing window for the afternoon. I also plan to get out the reflectors I used last year. They’re just pieces of cardboard covered with aluminum foil, but when placed behind the plants (on the side away from the window), they almost double the amount of light the plants get.

I hope everyone else is having as much fun as I am admiring their new babies!

P.S. That basil in the picture is not the holy basil I just planted last week. It’s Sweet Genovese basil, and it’s been going since at least early November.


12 Comments Add yours

  1. Mistress Maudlin says:

    I know that feeling all too well. I’ve just planted a tea plant, which can take 6 weeks before it begins to sprout. It’s killing me!

    1. Sharon says:

      Ooo, tea! I assume you’re growing that indoors? I’d love to know how that works, and where you got the seeds!

  2. Megan says:

    Haha- Love it! I grow our plants form the basement, and every morning when I get up, I run down to the basement to peek, then peek again after work, and then again before bed! I get so excited, and when they start to sprout, I peek several times in an hour! I love to watch their tiny little sprouty heads pop up out of the dirt, I am getting excited even thinking about it! Thanks for coming to visit my site- I look forward to sharing the gardening and blogging journey with other people!


    1. Sharon says:

      Haha! Glad to know I’m not the only one with this disease. 🙂

  3. Jenny says:

    Oh goodness – I also have it bad. This morning the wee babes were all that I thought of upon waking. I appreciate hearing the same story from a fellow seed-enthusiast – sometimes I feel a sense of foolishness coming on, but then I realize that if I am to be obsessive about anything, seed-watching is a pretty innocent pursuit.

  4. lisabinegar says:

    I lurve seed watching. I am getting excited to start the process over again here next month. Last year I set up a nice little seed area with lights and a heat mat in the empty guest bedroom, this year I think I will set up some shelves in the basement. I can’t wait – we have to wait a bit before I can even begin due to my zone’s growing season. I get so jealous of you guys in warmer climates!

  5. Sasha says:

    I’m not the only one! Whew! You have given me the idea to start growing seeds at work since I have been blessed with a window. Last year was my first time growing seeds and I thought I had done something wrong. Then I left for a weekend trip and when I came back they had sprouted to a few inches. I guess it was because they knew I wasn’t looking!

  6. gardenpoet says:

    Haha, I also seem to often believe that perhaps the seeds are frauds…even when they’re from the same packet I used last year. The problem is, half the time my seeds DON’T sprout. And it gets worse than just looking. Maybe they need to be adjusted to the light…or a bit more water…oh wait, no, I’m pampering them again. Walks away. Ten minutes later…
    And thanks for visiting, Sharon. Your comment made my day. 🙂

  7. vkhanson says:

    I too am a hopeless seed peeker. I have no guilt over it. Once, when I was sure the seed was not going to come up, I dug it up, yep…it had germinated….lesson learned on patience. Great blog. 🙂

  8. Cassandra says:

    Oh, I can totally relate to seed spying…. I waited until autumn had really started before planting our seeds… Of course only 3 or 4 got up before now we are having day after day of warm weather and blazing sunshine. All the rest of the seeds are sulking and my Toilet rolls I planted them in are growing nothing but mould. *Pout* I won’t give up just yet though….

    1. Sharon says:

      There’s always hope… and depending on what you planted, they might take a lot longer to sprout. Tomatoes usually come up for me in five or six days, but my asparagus took two weeks for the first appearance!

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