• Advertisement

Make every seed count

Gardening tips, questions and information here

Moderator: mmpaints

Make every seed count

Postby FussyOldHen » Fri Apr 10, 2015 2:24 am

This Year's Seed Experiment:

I finally figured out how to pelletize my carrot seeds.

Pelletizing seeds isn't new, but commercial ones tend to be more expensive, and only certain common varieties come as pellets. And there are warnings that pelletized seed can't be stored for long periods, like raw seeds can.

Then there is the common advice to sow more than you need, and then waste a lot of time, effort and seeds thinning them out. Counter-productive, as far as I'm concerned. SHTF, and you want to be wasting seeds by ripping them out?

I love carrots. We have Carrot Rust Flies (CRF) here. The adult females lay their eggs at the base of young carrots, the eggs hatch into larvae, and the larvae chew into the carrots and deposit their excrement (frass) in the tunnels they chew in the carrots. Very unappetizing.

Then I read that CRF don't usually fly much over 12" above the ground. So last year immediately after sowing, I put some stakes around my carrot bed (3x10'), and wrapped clear (food-type) plastic wrap around the bed, making sure it was sealed around the bottom. CLEAN CARROTS! But the bad thing was that when it was time to thin the carrots, I had to unwrap and discard the plastic wrap, and after thinning, I had to wrap it up again.

This was annoying, time consuming, and stupid. There had to be a better way to just sow the carrots at their final spacing, wrap up the bed, then unwrap it for harvest. Carrot seeds are tiny and hard to see on the soil or in a trench. They're difficult to scatter uniformly, even mixed with sand or dry coffee grounds. And then there's that d***ed thinning.

The usual method for commercial pelletizing is to dampen or soak the seeds, then mix them with clay dust (often mixed with other ingredients). Then they're dried. The home method works about the same way, but you usually end up with several seeds inside each pellet. And if most of them sprout, you still have to thin them.

Then a few nights ago, I was almost asleep when I thought of another way. I've done three seed packets of three different varieties, so far. Each packet (300+-) takes one evening and at least one old movie. Yes, it's time-consuming, BUT AT LEAST I WON'T HAVE TO THIN THE #@%$*&$ THINGS!

You would need:
* Clay suitable for pottery (I used natural terra cotta, available in craft shops in 1# and 5# lumps
* About a 3" length of regular plastic drinking straw
* About a 6" length of wood dowel that will slide easily through the straw
* A flat hard surface
* Something like a rolling pin (a 6" length of 1" wood dowel works fine)

Roll out the clay so it's quite thin, about 1/16". Only work with about a golf-ball sized lump at a time, or it will start to dry out as you're working. Put the dowel inside the straw but keep it away from the tip. Press the end of the straw into the clay and lift it with the little circle of clay just inside the tip, press it onto a seed, return the straw to the clay and press it into the clay again, then slide the dowel out the end, pushing the little seed/clay sandwich out . Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat..... After you've done 20 or so seed sandwiches, you can either leave them as they are (flat circles), or pick up each one and roll it between your thumb and forefinger to make a more-or-less sphere. The flat ones are simpler, but the round ones are easier to pick up later. My balls are about the size of small peas.

Spread the finished balls or sandwiches on your El Cheapo low-temp (not over 100ºF) food dryer tray, and dry them thoroughly until they're hard, mine takes an hour or so on the top rack of my Magic Chef. I'm thinking you could also set them on a plate under a light bulb. When dry, put them in a container labeled with the variety, or plant immediately. The sooner you can get them dried after forming, the better, as continued exposure to moisture could cause them to start to sprout, then the drying would kill them.

Sow at the distance that you would normally thin them to, usually 2" for regular carrots, 4" for the large winter-storage carrots.

This is an experiment in progress. I'll be planting them soon, as I just got the beds prepped today. I hope I have some extras, and I'll try to do some experiments with the leftovers to see how long they can be stored and still sprout.

I hope this works. I got pretty fast making the pellets... it can't have taken me any more time than THINNING them.
FussyOldHen
 
Posts: 3714
Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 11:38 am
Karma: 229

Re: Make every seed count

Postby Stahlrosen » Fri Apr 10, 2015 7:19 am

OOOHHH! That is an awesome idea!
:D Thanks!
User avatar
Stahlrosen
 
Posts: 520
Images: 6
Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2014 7:43 pm
Karma: 20

Re: Make every seed count

Postby anita » Fri Apr 10, 2015 8:39 am

Thanks! Sounds like a good job for kids, if you happen to have any available!
In honor of RebNavy: "Then call us Rebels if you will, we glory in the name, for bending under unjust laws and swearing faith to an unjust cause, we count as greater shame". Richmond Daily Dispatch May 12 1862

Semper Fi, Sic Semper Tyrannis, Remember The Alamo, and Aide'toi et Dieu T'aidera!
anita
 
Posts: 4067
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 8:46 pm
Karma: 152

Re: Make every seed count

Postby AuntBee » Fri Apr 10, 2015 8:49 am

Seems like a lot of work to avoid thinning. Could thinned plants be planted in a second bed? What is the storage life of pelletized seeds?


Aunt Bee
I guess I don't love carrots enough
AuntBee
New York Preppers Network
New York Preppers Network
 
Posts: 4363
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2013 12:01 pm
Location: Dilligaf, NY
Karma: 224

Re: Make every seed count

Postby Suncat » Fri Apr 10, 2015 9:08 am

You can also make seed tape I know you can use something other than paper towels to make them. My daughter learned about them in 4H and her's were long (maybe toilet paper?) It's early here yet and she's not up, but I'll ask her later today.
Suncat

"Real feminine nature isn't weak or fawning. It isn't about wearing frilly dresses or reading romance novels.
Real femininity is strong, confident, vibrant. But it is strong, confident and vibrant in a uniquely feminine way.
~Mary Beth Bonacci
User avatar
Suncat
 
Posts: 242
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2015 2:28 pm
Location: Oregon
Karma: 10

Re: Make every seed count

Postby FussyOldHen » Fri Apr 10, 2015 1:35 pm

Aunt Bee: Did I mention that I hate unwrapping the bed and thinning? I heard that you CAN replant carrot thinnings, and I tried about 10... If you think pelletizing is time-consuming, try transplanting. I'll pass.

I read in one place (only) that pelletized seeds won't last to the next year. Of course, that is commercially produced pellets, and they often soak them to make them ready for germination, and I could see how that could kill them in a few months. I'm doing them dry (except for the moist clay), and I'm hoping to have enough to sprout sporadically to see how long they're good for. Maybe my dry way is better, but ... It would be nice if it works, a decent winter job for indoors in front of the fire with a hot drink and cheesecake.

I tried the seed tape, and I think it was slower than pelleting. It would be great if they still made those paper streamers like people would throw from ships just before leaving for a cruise, but I haven't seen them for years. You have to cut the strips, measure the strips, apply glue to the strips, pick up one tiny seed at a time and poke into the glue. I would just rather watch Rio Bravo again and poke holes into clay.

p.s. And they're delicate. You have to use water-soluble glue, and if you use a glue-stick, they get brittle and fall off. If I were to try it again, I would try a bottle of Elmer's Washable Clear School Glue. And you still have to pick up one of those tiny seeds at a time, and that takes time. With the clay, all I have to do is flick them a bit to separate them, then press the clay onto them.
FussyOldHen
 
Posts: 3714
Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 11:38 am
Karma: 229

Re: Make every seed count

Postby independentlurker » Fri Apr 10, 2015 2:52 pm

Fussy, It's a good idea if you have that kind of patience. Not a quality I have much of. It would be a good project for me in the winter when I get the urge to garden though.

What I usually do with carrots is mix the seed in with a little dry sand and shake it up. ( about a package of seed to a cup of sand), I then pour it down a slightly indented row of soil. The sand marks the row and dilutes the seed so thinning is less. I have had to plant more seed though where seeds didn't come up and still thin a bit, so my method is not perfect.
independentlurker
 
Posts: 541
Joined: Wed Aug 28, 2013 3:32 pm
Karma: 29

Re: Make every seed count

Postby Permafrost » Fri Apr 10, 2015 7:29 pm

Fussy post at the end of the season in how it works out.

I normally use homemade strips to plant carrots. I get the cheap toilet paper and do 10' long strips, I need 6 of these per bed. I lay it out on a sheet of aluminum so that it comes off easier. 1 layer of thin cheap toilet paper, soaked with corn starch & water mixture (use a paint brush to apply) space out seeds 1 per 2" spacing, lay another layer of toilet paper on top & press together to trap seeds. Let dry & carefully peel off table & roll up. I lay them out covering the whole area of my raised beds so I get a carrot every 2" for the total square footage. I sprinkle soil on top but only like a 1/8" or 1/16". I generally have fairly good germination and no thinning but I am always looking to improve. I have not tried what you are doing and am interested, there is always room for improvement in my garden especially with germination rates.
Permafrost
Alaska Preppers Network
Alaska Preppers Network
 
Posts: 1145
Joined: Tue Mar 19, 2013 5:33 pm
Location: Interior Alaska
Karma: 97

Re: Make every seed count

Postby FussyOldHen » Fri Nov 06, 2015 3:55 am

Okay, I'm going to post how it turned out.

It didn't work. I don't think I got 5% germination. [Note to self: buy more canned carrots]

I think there were (at least) three possibilities:
1. Too much clay on the seeds;
2. Too much delay between pelleting and planting; or
3. Not enough water to keep the clay wet enough.

Commercial pelleting produces a much smaller seed ball. Although the clay liquifies with enough water, my soil is sandy and dries out easily.

Next year, I'll try small seed balls, the main weapon of Guerrilla Gardeners. But there could be a problem with those, too. Seed balls are usually made with a mix of clay and compost with several seeds in each small marble-sized ball, but usually not with root crops.

Masanobu Fukuoka, famed author of The One-Straw Revolution and Sowing Seeds in the Desert, provided a recipe:
......5 parts powdered clay (preferably red, but use what is local to you)
......3 parts fine sifted compost
......seeds

Then a little water at a time is added to the mix until the ingredients start sticking together. Since I want to limit each ball to having only one seed, I'll have to do it manually. :rolleyes: If the seed balls aren't planted right away, they have to be dried rather quickly so the moisture doesn't make the seeds sprout.

If seed balls interest you, here's some info on them; sorry about the pale gray text -- they may know a lot about permaculture, but they don't know sh!t about creating a website: http://permaculturenews.org/2014/06/18/making-seedballs-ancient-method-till-agriculture/

I'm still determined to do it with carrots. I hate thinning. I hate thinning. I hate thinning.

So, maybe pea-sized seed balls of compost and clay, with just one seed inside. Maybe. I won't know until I try. As usual.
FussyOldHen
 
Posts: 3714
Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 11:38 am
Karma: 229

Re: Make every seed count

Postby Pedro wyoming » Fri Nov 06, 2015 1:48 pm

Dry clay is a desiccant and will draw moisture from the seed over time. This might be the cause of low germination rate. Adding the compost will ameliorate this effect to some degree.

pW
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change that survives.” Charles Darwin
Iמנא ,מנא, תקל, ופרסי
אלוהים
User avatar
Pedro wyoming
Wyoming Preppers Network
Wyoming Preppers Network
 
Posts: 3847
Images: 0
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2010 4:27 pm
Location: central wyoming
Karma: 158

Re: Make every seed count

Postby anita » Fri Nov 06, 2015 2:18 pm

I have read you don't want to transplant thinned carrots because they won't grow straight.

anita
(who said a little knowledge is a dangerous thing?)
In honor of RebNavy: "Then call us Rebels if you will, we glory in the name, for bending under unjust laws and swearing faith to an unjust cause, we count as greater shame". Richmond Daily Dispatch May 12 1862

Semper Fi, Sic Semper Tyrannis, Remember The Alamo, and Aide'toi et Dieu T'aidera!
anita
 
Posts: 4067
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 8:46 pm
Karma: 152

Re: Make every seed count

Postby FussyOldHen » Fri Nov 06, 2015 5:05 pm

Anita, I had heard that, too, but had to try it (for laughs). Several died, some didn't grow very well, and some were funny-looking. So I scratched that off my TRY THIS list.

PW: "Dry clay is a desiccant and will draw moisture from the seed over time. This might be the cause of low germination rate."

Yes, I suppose that could be another reason -- or maybe the amount of clay for that reason. But you can buy pelleted seeds (even carrots), and there has to be a time gap between commercial pelletizing and the planting by the buyer. I've read that you can't hold them over from one year to the next.

I once saw a sign with a whip coiled around it that said, "The beatings will continue until morale improves".

MY morale will improve when I find out how to sow carrots that don't have to be thinned. There MUST be a way.
FussyOldHen
 
Posts: 3714
Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 11:38 am
Karma: 229

Re: Make every seed count

Postby AuntBee » Tue Mar 08, 2016 1:10 pm

Back to pelleted seeds -- is the verdict that pelleted seeds can't be stored for any length of time? I am thinking about invisible seeds like carrots and strawberries. (Serves me right for chickening out of Lasik)

Bee
AuntBee
New York Preppers Network
New York Preppers Network
 
Posts: 4363
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2013 12:01 pm
Location: Dilligaf, NY
Karma: 224

Re: Make every seed count

Postby ajax727 » Tue Mar 08, 2016 1:49 pm

The tiny seeds are a pain that is for sure . We start them is coffee cups the Styrofoam one's and trans plant them into rows or split barrels . I have tried the cheap paper tape trick and it just did not work that great . I have also tried mixing sand with the seeds and sow them this also did not work that great but it did work but there was thick and thin spots .
I am planting the garden now I know we could get a killing frost around Easter but it is a chance I am going to take . So far I have 28 rows about 100 yd. long ready but not planted . I planted 4 rows with sweet corn , 4 rows with sweet peas , 2 rows of squash , 2 rows of zukes and 2 rows of cucumbers , 1 row of string beans . I still have around 200 cups of .mixed plant to plant (melons , herbs , peppers ,just to name a few ) before I start the next bath , I had to get them out of the cups these plants where started real early and they are getting big and trying to get root bound . Rolling the dice and hope we do not get a killing frost ..+..
To see things as they are not as they want you to see them .. With the stroke of a pen all you rights and freedom can end ...
ajax727
 
Posts: 2377
Images: 1
Joined: Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:56 am
Karma: 73

Re: Make every seed count

Postby contrarian » Tue Mar 08, 2016 7:35 pm

I have a starting tray with like 80 cells in it. Very small but great for testing germination and the resulting plant could be planted into larger pots or planted in the garden.
Prepping -- prudence in action
You either stand for something or you will put up with anything.
Study all sides and aspects to a situation but learn to reject 90% of what is said.
contrarian
Colorado Preppers Network
Colorado Preppers Network
 
Posts: 1235
Joined: Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:54 pm
Karma: 22

Next

Return to Gardening

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for the APN Email Newsletter - Enter your e-mail address below


  Links and Resources
  -Links
  -Podcasts
  -Free Ebooks



Trusted Sponsors









Copyright
For Notices of Copyright infringement and to contact our DMCA Agent please follow the link below:
Copyright Policy

For terms of use, rules, and policies please read our Disclaimer