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In the garden: Angst over soil

Am I losing my touch, here?

I can't see what the variable is, here: The seeds are all from Johnny's; the sun is the same; the planting depth is the same; this is after two days of -- snarl -- rain, so the moisture is the same.

The only difference I can think of is the soil; and after I got paranoid about my seafood mulch -- no germination from squash, carrots, or zinnias -- I planted these seeds in a mixture of that mulch, ordinary soil, and Azomite; but still, these seeds, and only these seeds, germinated. So WTF?

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V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

...shit happens. I ordered seeds from Nichole's (Oregon) and not one germinated. ????
No idea...
Shit seeds, shit soil, shit conditions???? No idea...

Submitted by Dromaius on

Something is eating the seeds before they germinate? Have you found the seeds?

I would try germinating some seeds in a towel or planting them in pots and then transplant into the ground and see what happens.

nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

Remember that mold?

Cool temps + rain = rot. Plus, you have already mulched, preventing the soil from warming. I may be wrong, but you might want to wait until your soil warms above seventy degrees before replanting, your seed may be rotting in the ground; look in a couple of those other holes and see what you can find. A lot of people have had trouble with that this year, including myself. Nothing to get too frustrated over.

Submitted by lambert on

... and believe it or not, the mulch is actually hot (well, not hot, but more than a little warm). That ain't right. No wonder the plants weren't happy. I never heard of such a thing! How can it be?

nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

Rot it is, then.

If the mulch was hot that means aerobic bacterial activity; the stuff is sheet composting...that is where your smell was coming from. Nothing would have gotten through that.

The problem will likely resolve itself pretty quickly. A few hot days and it should burn itself out and then you could replant. Or, maybe, it would be well to rake it back so that it can compost more completely in a hotter pile (more depth, more heat) and replant in soil that has been exposed to the sun, to warm it up. Cold soil and hot mulch is not a good combo.

nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

That first comment really didn't answer your question, did it?

Look up "damping off" disease of seedlings and see if your local conditions have not been conducive to it. All of that wet, hot composting material on a substrate of cold soil sounds like it might be your culprit.An absolute paradise for both bacteria and fungi.

Submitted by Dromaius on

We've grown a ton of things directly on the compost pile (it gets hot)...potatoes, cukes, tomatoes, columbine, even greens like collard. Some seedlings will actually do better there. Just depends on how much warmth they like. Carrots don't like heat tho for certain

I think if you'd left the straw off, enough heat would have dissipated that even on the unfinished compost they would have done fine. I never use straw, but my instincts tell me to always wait to cover with straw until the seeds have germinated.

Source: Multigeneration farming on both sides of my family. Instinctive green thumb.

Submitted by lambert on

I dug up the mounds I made that killed the squash -- and I thought I was being nice to them! -- and its just a repellent substance. Doesn't feel good on the hands or feet.

Not sure about the straw. It may hold heat in, but it also captures and holds moisture.

Anyhow, I don't like work. Putting down the paper and straw, soaking it, and then punching holes in it and planting is the way to go for me; it's not nearly so fiddly as arranging the paper and the straw around growing plants.

Anyhow, I put some mounds of plain dirt in today, and put some squash from flats in, so we'll see how that goes. The cukes were iffy for a couple of days, and know they're doing fine.