It’s Not Paranoia If…

Everything in front of the fence is new this year.

Back in January, at seed-ordering time, I wasn’t sure if my plan for extending the vegetable garden by 1200 sq. ft. in one season was going to be feasible. Since I dig a new bed three times in order to kill the sod, that’s a lot of hand digging. But it turned out we had a lot of fine weather this spring, and I actually managed to add something like 1600 sq. ft. to the garden. Which meant I had a little wiggle room, and maybe I could plant a few more of the things I’ve been especially interested in this year. So I rewarded my digging efforts by starting two more pots of ground cherries, two more Thai Red roselle, and one more each of my new varieties of heirloom tomato: Eva Purple Ball and Old German.


I wrote a post back in January about how I’m an incurable seed watcher (see “A Watched Seed Never Sprouts?“), and how I’m always convinced there’s something terribly wrong and my seeds aren’t going to sprout at all. You know the saying, “It’s not paranoia if they’re really out to get you”? Well, apparently I’m not paranoid, because this batch of seeds did not sprout. Actually, two of the three Eva Purple Ball tomato seeds I planted sprouted, but nothing else came up. I’ve waited hopefully for two entire weeks–twice the time it ought to take them to appear–but no. Zilch.

So what explains this mysterious phenomenon, when all of my other seed-starting efforts this year have turned out marvelously? I have a couple of theories. The first has to do with the fact that I planted these seeds in soil I’d previously used for asparagus. These are the pots where the asparagus didn’t germinate, and maybe it didn’t germinate for a reason. Like some sort of soil-borne disease that prevents germination. Don’t know. My other theory–and this one seems more likely to me–is that the soil in these pots was just too wet. I had been watering it frequently in an effort to coax some life into my asparagus seeds, and even though I didn’t water again after planting the ground cherries, etc., maybe the soil was saturated to the point of inhibiting germination. This theory seemed to be confirmed when today I finally dumped my sterile pots of soil back into the garden. They were so wet they were almost soupy at the bottom.

Believing I’ve learned my lesson, I tried again today. I mixed up some new potting soil (2 parts soil to 1 part compost, with a little organic fertilizer thrown in). I planted my seeds, and I did not water, even though the soil seems on the dry side. I just covered the pots with aluminum foil, and I really hope they’ll do their thing this time!


8 Comments Add yours

  1. marvegal says:

    Good luck! I added some square footage to my small suburban garden this year. The weather was perfect.. I cut up two thirds of the bed and cut in some composted material. Then last night it rained a good and steady rain. The ground was beautiful this morning! yeah! I cant wait to see if your seeds sprout!

  2. renee wade says:

    When you mix up your seed starting soil, try moistening it before you plant the seeds. Little bits of water at a time, work it with your hands until you feel that lovely sponge thing happening, then put it in pots and plant. A light watering afterward is still helpful to firm the soil around the seeds – then don’t water unless the surface looks a bit dry. Hope that helps.

    1. Sharon says:

      Thanks for the tips! The moistening the soil little bits at a time while working it with your hands seems like it should really work.

  3. Hi There. Last year I planted enough ground cherries so I could make jam – although we call them cape gooseberries. On Sunday I picked the first ripe batch and got half a kilo, and that is just the first picking – there is heaps more on the bush and frost doesn’t seem imminent for ages yet!
    Good luck with the new seeds. Its frustrating when they don’t germinate, yet you feel you have done everything right. I had that a lot this season – turned out my seeds were getting a bit old.
    Cheers Sarah : o )

    1. Sharon says:

      Cape gooseberries! That’s a name I haven’t heard yet. šŸ™‚ How many plants did you grow, if you don’t mind my asking?

      1. I think I planted 6. I sowed them in mid winter and kept them growing in the greenhouse so when they were bigger and stronger than they would have been if they were sown in the spring, and they just took off. I took some photos the other day so I’ll do a blog so you can see. Cheers Sarah : o )

  4. A couple of years ago I gave up on a batch of tomatoes as not a single one had sprouted after two weeks. I resowed and the seedling came up with no problems the second time. I forgot about the original pot and when I wanted to throw it out after three and a half weeks I realised that every single seed in the pot had germinated. It just took 3 weeks for some reason.
    wet soil is definitely bad for seedlings though. the seeds go mouly and die. I add sand to the potting mix to improve drainage.

    1. Sharon says:

      You know, as frustrating as it can be sometimes, this is what I really love about gardening–that you’re working with living things, and they don’t always respond predictably! But in my experience, there are more happy surprises than sad ones. šŸ™‚

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