We have found over the years that direct soil to seed planting has a few key advantages over using seedings.
The first benefit we see is that you can always have a large seed store on hand in the way of a seed vault, as many people call it. If seeds are kept in the right conditions, they can last a really long time, so you have the peace of mind of knowing they can be right at your fingertips should you need them.
Another benefit is that while seeds can carry some diseases, you are far more likely to introduce something you do not want into your garden via a seedling. Often you do not really know what a seedling might be harbouring in the way of an issue you could inadvertently transfer to your garden. You also often have no idea of what exactly is in the growing medium used for the seedling and if commercial grown might be the antheses of "organic". Using the direct to seed method means you markedly reduce all of those risks.
Like anything in the garden, the more you practice doing something, the more proficient you become at it. You will be far more self-sufficient with your garden when you have really got your direct to soil seed planting knowledge together. We will cover seed harvesting at the end of the season. When you can manage this entire process from seed planting to seed harvesting, your Smart Garden will simply get healthier and more bountiful every year.
As you can see with our plantings, they have really gotten off to a great start. It is worth mentioning that we have had freezing temperatures. Some nights recently have been below zero with some significant frosts, lots of rain and even snow. I don't believe you would get this level of growth and certainly seedling health if these guys were outside dealing with all of that.
So let us look at why we can get our seedlings to really pop this early in the season.
For us, the two significant factors are soil health and soil temperature.
As our soil has a lot of nutrients available in the soil, these young seedlings are really happy to kick off and really get going. Another factor is the automated irrigation system. At the moment, it comes on twice a day in the early morning and early evening for about 5min a time. This means the soil is very moist, and this helps remove the outer coatings of the seeds that tells them to start germinating.
You can see that we have a lot of organic material in our soil. These beds are actually made using Hugel Kulture, so the bottom half is made up of rotting wood. This volume of decomposing material in the bed heats up the soil temperature, promoting seed germination. So you need a lot of decomposing organic material in your soil.
This is why we love raised beds as well as they lift the planting area of your soil of the solid ground, which can be much colder. The Hugel Kulture aspect of these beds also acts as an insulator that helps keep our soil temperature higher again.
So critical takeaways for getting consistent, healthy seed germination very early in the season are; soil health, nutrient availability, moisture content and decomposing organic matter. Also, soil temperature, which we derive from our garden bed design and our garden bed design Smart Garden structure.
So here are 3 Technograrian tips for helping you get the most out of your early season plantings.
- Make sure that around 3-6 months before you start your new year season, you add a diverse range of manures, composts, and organic fertilizer to your soil. This ensures that when you do start planting for the new season, these have had some chance to breakdown and become bioavailable for your plants.
- Make sure you have lots of organic matter, and they can be all of those previous inputs but things like kitchen scraps, wood chips and shavings and really anything that won't introduce weeds etc. into your garden soil.
- A seed growth promoter. When our soil was still quite green and inconsistent in the early days, we used Willow water as an organic seed growth promoter. Depending on where you live, you can take fresh spring shoot cuttings from a willow tree, chop them into small pieces about a centimetre long and let them soak in a household-sized bucket of water for a day or so. This releases powerful chemicals into the water called Indolebutyric Acid, a root growth promoter, and Salicylic Acid, which regulates plant growth hormones and protects young seedlings from disease.
You can get off the shelf versions of the growth promoters, but we have found that willow water is cheap and easy to make and incorporate some old school know-how with modern scientific understanding to help kick start your seedling growth. We don't need to use it as much now as our soil health takes care of that for us. Still, we will be using different types of liquid foliar and soil amendments soon to boost two critical growth periods of our plants.
You just need to apply the liquid to the seeds you have planted in your soil by watering them every couple of days until you feel they look like they are up and running.