jakeanderton
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Joined: Fri Apr 13, 2018 3:30 am

Germination Issues

Hello. I a man germinating seeds via the damp paper towel method, in a plastic bag. They are currently under grow lights for 16hrs per day, and on top of a heat mat. The varieties going are Kellogg's Breakfast, Costoluto Genovese and Principe Borghese.

It's been 12 days and so far none of the 45 seeds in total have germinated. I'm not sure what the issue is, and if I am past the point of no return - where I need to start with a new batch of seeds. Such a shame that not a single one has germinated...

Any help is greatly appreciated!

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applestar
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Re: Germination Issues

Verify the temp on top of the heat mat with any thermometer — sometimes I just use instant read from the kitchen. If it’s too hot, then the seeds maybe goners.... if actually not warm enough, then they are just taking their time. Test in the morning just before lights turn on as well — overnight Temp may be too low.

Make sure the paper towels haven’t dried out — if You don’t see condensation inside, it’s too dry.
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imafan26
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Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Germination Issues

There are a couple of things I can think of
1. How old are the seeds and how were they stored? Tomato seeds are good for about 5 years. Germination decreases with time.
Seeds that are not stored cool and dry and subject to changing temperatures and moisture won't last as long.
2. As Apple has said, even temperatures and moisture is important. Tomatoes will sprout as low as the 50's but they don't like 90's. Make sure your combination of heat mat and lights are not cooking the seeds. The towel should stay moist, but not soggy or the seeds will rot. My conditions are different since I don't have to maintain the temperature but sometimes I have better results leaving a crack in the zip loc bag to let air in. I have more problems with condensation than with cold.

3. I don't cover my seed in a bag with layers of paper towels. I just put the seeds on the top of the damp towel and expose them to the light. Most seeds require light to germinate so I even sow many of my seeds outdoors on the surface and I don't cover them. I just fluff the soil, put down the seed and water them in. I only cover seeds like corn and beans where I want them to be spaced more evenly.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

jakeanderton
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Joined: Fri Apr 13, 2018 3:30 am

Re: Germination Issues

Thank you for the quick feedback.

Well, the mat was too hot. The temperature inside the paper towel was 94 degrees. The paper towels were not dry, and had plenty of condensation in the partially opened zip loc bags. I am guessing the heat is the culprit and will try germinating a new batch of seeds on to of the refrigerator now.

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Gary350
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Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.

Re: Germination Issues

That was a class project when I was in school. Wet a paper towel then squeeze out most of the water. Wrap seeds in the damp paper towel then make sure water does not evaporate. You can fold it then put it in a jar with a tight lid or zip lock bag. 50 yrs ago zip lock bags were not invented yet. The trick is to keep seeds warm enough to germinate. Some seeds need to be warmer than others and some seeds will not germinate if they are too warm. I think 80 to 85 degrees F is a good temperature for tomato seeds. When I was in school teacher knew the perfect temperature for each seed to germinate but I don't remember what temperature that is.

Another way to germinate seeds it sprinkle about 10 seeds in the garden in a small 6" diameter circle then cover it with a board or sheet of window glass. Window glass seems to make seeds germinate faster but you need to be sure to check them very early every morning as the sun is coming up. Cover seeds with 1" of soil sun will heat the soil through the glass and seeds germinate quick but once plants are visible under the glass remove the glass sun will get too hot and kill the new plants. Moisture in the garden soil is very stable that is very helpful.

Make sure you have good seeds. I have saved tomato & pepper seeds from last year I have 10 seeds in several spots covered in the garden in a row. I am germinating seeds in the place where I want the plants to grow in the garden rows. When plants appear I just let them grow for a while soon 1 plant will dominate the others and all the others get pulled out.

Here are pictures of Chinese foot long giant red peppers I am starting from seeds this morning. It finally warmed up to 85 degrees but I still do not trust this crazy weather it is only May 3rd. I don't have time to keep a close watch on these seeds so I covered them with flat boards. I have saved cherry tomatoes seeds from last summer I need to start today also. I don't need to check these for about 3 days and don't expect to see plants for 5 days. I covered these seeds with 1/2" of soil without the board seeds need to be planted deeper because moisture is deeper.
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Last edited by Gary350 on Thu May 03, 2018 1:18 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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applestar
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Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: Germination Issues

I like the glass over garden soil trick. I want to try that 8) :-()
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

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