In good time…

Have you ever found yourself in possession of seeds that you were impatient to sow and watch grow? I’ve been in that position so many times, especially with seeds given from other people’s gardens. You seem to start off with so many seeds and you think you’ll plant more than you need, to give some allowance for fatalities, because there always are some along the way – seeds don’t sprout, seedlings die off if you forget to keep them happy, young plants get attacked by pests, etc.

My Bachelor's Buttons seedlings.

I’m going to talk about my Bachelor’s Buttons (gomphrena globosa) in this case. I was given a couple of dried flower heads, and decided to start with one. I prepared a self-watering container (SWC) and broke up the flower head over the earth, then mixed them in so the dried petals and seeds (which I couldn’t identify from the dried petals) were just beneath the surface of the soil. Then I let the SWC do it’s work to keep the soil moist and I minded my own business.

The first sprout appeared 5 days later. The second sprout popped up 5 days after that. They kept each other company for 2 months – still in the SWC since I tend to procrastinate transplanting plants – and suddenly I noticed that a new plant had germinated! Now, more than 3 months since I first planted the seeds, there are even more sprouts still appearing. Still in the SWC. So I finally decided to give the plants their freedom and plant them out in the garden. Since I was concerned that there could be more viable but dormant seeds in there, just biding their time, I decided to try to keep as much as the top of the soil intact when I transplanted them. In Singapore, we have a term for that – it’s called being kiasu, or scared to lose out. I absolutely resent the idea of wasting any good seed left in there, and I will try to observe if any more sprout in the coming weeks.

What this situation with the slow-to-sprout seeds shows is that seeds will start germinating when they are good and ready. I haven’t figured out the conditions yet, because I have other pots where I’ve planted seeds but nothing has happened. Or, one plant started growing and that was it. The notorious non-sprouters for me are marigolds, coriander, basil , nasturtiums and Dahlberg Daisies. Either I haven’t given them the right conditions to grow, they’re not ready yet, or the seeds are non-viable. I am almost tempted to just toss the seeds here and there in the garden and let nature choose where to let what grow – but then I wouldn’t know what was what. Is this a situation of nature versus nurture? :D

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In good time… — 14 Comments

  1. For marigolds and Dahlsberg Daisies, I surface sowed the seeds and they sprouted within a few days. Maybe don’t bury them? =)

    • Surface sowed as in on the surface or just under a thin sprinkling of soil? I’ve done the latter, and for all the times I’ve tried growing those two flowers, I’ve had only – count ‘em – ONE sprout each. I’ve left the last pot of DD’s out on the off chance the seeds will be like the Buttons and eventually sprout. Don’t worry, though, I’ll keep trying.

  2. I very rarely (almost never, I think) cover my seeds with sprinkles of soil. I just dump all the seeds on the surface of the soil, and water them everyday. Or, if I’m starting them in small pots, I surface sow and bag them up to keep the moisture in. My Dahlsbery daisy seeds sprouted like nobody’s business.

    Try again! =D

  3. And oh, I wanted to say this after remembering it: best to bag up or cover the pot with basil seeds. If you notice it, basil seeds have this tendency to develop a jelly-like membrane around them when they’re wet. I’ve found (through my own experiments) that the first time when the seeds are wet, it is very important to make sure they stay moist and not to let the membrane dry out. Or else, after that, even if you wet the seeds again and the membrane develops, the seeds don’t seem to be viable anymore. I don’t know why.

    And just a fun fact: basil seeds are frequently used in ice-kacang etc. I think they’re called mata kuching or something. Lol.

    • I haven’t planted the new basil seeds yet – had too many other more fun seeds to plant, and I’m not done yet! LOL. I have noticed the jelly before, and those seeds didn’t grow, like you said. Used in desserts, they look like frog’s eggs! Mata kuching is the smaller longan-like fruit that has a thinner layer of flesh and a bigger seed. Hence the name, which in Malay means “cat’s eyes”. Eek… LOL

  4. Lol. My partner is Malay, but I know little of the language. :P Ah well. He can be my translator I guess. :P

    Let me know how the new batch of basil seeds turn out when you decide to sow them. :) I’m glad your seeds are sprouting now. Hee.

    • Expand your Singlish repertoire and pick up more Malay words… :P Basil is going to hold on a little longer. I have a few more other plants I want to get started, and let’s not forget my trellis projects that are still waiting in line… If you’re interested in any of the seeds, let me know. You’ll probably have more luck growing herbs than I do! It seems to be pest season here right now.

  5. I can speak Singlish! Um…I think. :P I can speak passable Hokkien and rojak Mandarin. Mwuahahaha.

    And nah. I just got more seeds from Swallowtail through an MO. Lol. Thanks for the offer though. :) I hope you get rid of those pests!

    • Sounds like gardeners everywhere have been treating themselves to early Christmas presents. LOL. Well, happy planting, and you know I’ll be doing the same! ;)