What are they and how to choose the seedbeds?

Seedling tray with seedlings

Seeing plants germinate and grow is an experience that, in my opinion, should not be missed by anyone. It is amazing how something so small can have so much genetic information concentrated within it. Although I know the different steps of seed germination, it never ceases to amaze me. But, so that everything goes smoothly it is very important to choose the seedbeds well.

In nature, when a seed falls to the ground, unless it receives the light and water it needs, it will not be able to survive; and yet, even though it can emit its first roots and leaves, it will have to overcome many obstacles if it wants to reach adulthood. When they are cultivated, we can protect them from almost all their enemies, but that does not mean that they have it much easier. So that it really is, We are going to explain everything you need to know about seedbeds: what they are, the different types there are, how you can get them at home ... and much more.

What are seedbeds?

Seedbed in wooden box

The seedbeds, also called almácigos or almácigas they are a place where the seeds are sown. They are very important, because they allow us to have everything -or almost- the germination process controlled and, in addition, it gives us the possibility of taking the necessary measures to prevent the appearance of pests and diseases in our future plants.

There are four different types:

  • Portables: they are those that can be moved from one place to another according to need. They can be wooden or plastic boxes, polyethylene bags, or other material that is easy to transport. They are the most used in home gardening.
  • Temporary or transitory: they are those that are used only once or for a short duration.
  • Semi-permanent: are those that are built by making a fence of boards and brick on the edges.
  • Permanent or fixed: they are those that are built to give them permanent use. The edges are made of cement and block, and the bottom is placed with chaff (more or less smooth stones about 2-3cm in length) to facilitate drainage.

How should they be?

Plastic seedling tray

Image - Castilloarnedo.com

The seedbeds are a very interesting ally for every gardener and / or farmer. Thanks to them, we can have a great variety of plants that we can help - and a lot - so that they have an excellent start in life. But, not everything we find can serve us as such. And it is that, if we want everything to go well, surely the most important thing we have to take into account is that they must have holes for the excess water to go outside.

A root called radicle sprouts from the newly germinated seeds, which is very sensitive to excess and lack of moisture. One way to minimize the risk of problems is to plant them in a container that allows the water to drain. Although this is not all. Too it is very necessary to choose a porous substrate, suitable for each type of species (you have more information on this topic here).

If we talk about the material with which the seedbeds should be made, They must be made of plastic because they are waterproofHence, milk containers, yogurt glasses, or the same pots or seedling trays are the best for sowing. However, If we use product containers, before sowing anything we have to clean it well, conscientiously, with water and a drop of dishwasher. Then we remove all the remaining foam, and let it dry in the sun for a couple of days.

Peat pellets for sowing

Another type of seedbed that can be very good for us is Jiffy peat pellets.. They come in various sizes (from 1cm to 9cm in height). In each one of them a single seed is sown, or two if they are very small, and you simply have to keep them moist by placing them, for example, in a tray with water. The truth is that they are very good, because being wrapped by biodegradable material we can introduce them in a pot or in the garden when the seedling has reached a good size (about 10cm). What's more, stay moist for a long time, which guarantees that the seed will not lack water. The only thing is that if you live in an area with a strong insolation you must protect them from direct sunlight, otherwise they will lose moisture very quickly, almost overnight.

Why is it better to sow in seedbeds than in the ground?

There are several reasons why we advise sowing in seedbeds directly and not in the ground. They are the following:

  • Seed germination is better controlled: temperature, humidity, exposure.
  • The sowing date of the crops is advanced by being able to move the seedlings from one site to another.
  • They allow us to cultivate new or unknown species in our area, which would otherwise have great difficulties to germinate.
  • We can enjoy watching a plant germinate.

How are the seeds sown?

Sowing seeds in a pot

Although there are several germination methods, the step by step that must be followed so that the seeds germinate is usually the following:

  1. The first thing to do is put the seeds in water for 24 hours. Thus we can discard those that are not viable, which will be the ones that remain floating.
  2. Then, we prepare the seedbed, filling it with plant substrate.
  3. Next, we spread the seeds and cover them with substrate. It is important not to put too many in the same seedbed, since otherwise when peeling the seedlings (separating them and planting them in an individual pot) it will cost them more to resume their growth. In general, no more than 3 should be put in a 10,5cm diameter pot.
  4. Finally, we sprinkle with copper or sulfur to avoid fungi, and we water thoroughly so that the substrate remains very humid but not flooded.

The average germination time varies depending on the specific species, and the growing conditions, being able to germinate in a few days, as is the case with horticultural crops, until it takes more than 1 year.

And with this we are done. We hope it has been useful to you 🙂.

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