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Location: Shell Beach

Help beginning gardener

I live in southern california. Everytime I start a garden hardly anything
sprouts. I go to walmart and buy food and I also use normal dirt to fill them.
I water about twice a week or so and nothing ever happens. Right now I am trying herbs and a tomato plant. Please help. Also where can I find free soil.
thank you.

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Site Admin
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Location: Amherst, MA USDA Zone 5a

Probably a good place to start: what, specifically do you need help with?

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what am I doing wrong. Nothing sprouts. Are they not getting enough sun.
are the seeds old. What.

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trying to get started

the more specific information you can give, the better people can help you. For example what kind of seeds have you been trying, what is your soil like, how much sun does the area get, rain, what kind of temperatures have you been having there in Southern Calif. If you just bought the seeds when you planted them, then no the seeds aren't old. Many kinds of seeds are fussy to start in the ground, some more than others. Most seeds need to stay moist (but not wet) to sprout. Unless you are having a rainy spring, watering twice a week might not be enough, you may need to give them a light watering every day until they sprout. I don't know what kind of soil you planted in but your soil needs to be well loosened up before you plant, turned and hoed and raked til it's soft and crumbly, so that the plant roots can move through it and it is aerated. That's about the most help I can give without more information, but you might find it easier to get started just to buy some plants. Go to a good nursery and talk to them about what kinds of things are adapted to your hot dry climate (unless of course you are trying to do vegetable gardening, give us some clues :) ) We can't answer re are they getting enough sun unless we know what they are and how much sun they are getting, but lots of things do need at least 6-8 hrs sun daily.

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Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2009 6:24 am
Location: Shell Beach

I am container gardening. I have 4 plants. Three are herbs and the other
is a tomato plant. the seed for the tomato plant have been in my house
since last year. I will be adding peppers and a few more herbs. I have to use
containers considering I live in a small apartment and I move a lot. The soil
I mostly a bag that I bought from walmart. It said natural plant soil. I didn,t
have enought so I mixed it with some dirt I got from the ground out side.
They get enough sun, That can,t be the problem. Can I use soil from outside
my house, like I see plants at parks and I don,t think they make there own
soil. Where can I get or make free soil. Thankx.

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Location: El Cerrito, CA

Read The Bountiful Container, by Rose Marie Nichols McGee & Maggie Stuckey. Your local public library may have a copy; mine did. This book is geared absolutely and only to the container gardener: what will flourish, what will not, soil needs, container sizes, watering needs, sun requirements.

As to finding things for free: elsewhere on this forum I've described FreeCycle (do a Search, available on each page). Subscribe to your local list or, if you're lucky like I am, your local lists. An amazing amount of stuff is offered every day!

I've read elsewhere that the "soil" and "fertilizers" at Walmart are not very good, nutritionally speaking, for plants.

Since you have no outdoor gardening space, look at composting with worms (vermiculture) for your soil amendment. Santa Clara County, last June, was selling worm set-ups for $5.00 (yes, FIVE) after attending their composing class. Your city or county may offer classes as well and/or offer subsidized compost bins / worm boxes.

Good luck!

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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Location: Central Texas

First time container gardener - thanks for the tips on books

Hi Cynthia,

Thanks for the tips on the books.

It does get confusing when you are just starting out with containers.
I have planted in the ground successfully, but containers are different, especially in Texas, too hot for many types of tomatoes.


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If you are over watering it could be that the seeds have rotted and that is why you are getting nothing. If you want to know if the seed is viable and you have one or a few to spare put them on damp kitchen paper and keep it moist (not wet) and see if it will sprout. If it does then chances are the seeds are ok. Also you may be covering them with too much soil, generally only cover them with the depth of soil that matches the seeds width. With tiny seeds just pop them on top of the soil and don't forget some seeds can take a long time to germinate. (Parsley for example can take up to around 30 -35 days - though it can be a lot quicker than this)

Hope this helps :)

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