Tips on germinating Tomatoes, Chilli, Capsicum and Eggplant
From now until September, many of us gardeners are going through the yearly ritual of prepping our summer heat lovers and attempting to germinate the seeds of Tomatoes, Chilli, Capsicum and Eggplant. These delicious heat lovers are marginal for our climate and it can be challenging to get them going in the midst of our winter when sunlight is low and temperatures are at times freezing. The following are some dot points to provide some tips on how to maximise the germination rates of the seed.
- They need soil warmth. Higher germination rates are achieved by keeping the soil temperatures above 20 as a minimum. 22 is ideal for tomatoes, and 24 is even better for the others. The easiest way is to use a heat mat. They are quite affordable online but I recommend you get one where you can set the temperature.
- Make a wooden box with as much depth as you can and fill with fresh horse/chicken manure. After a few days it will get hot and place your trays on top. This will act as a heat bed.
- Use the fireplace in your house. The house on average is warmer over a 24 hour period. Place the tray near but not right on the fireplace. Keep an eye on them and was they germinate move to a sunny spot. The window sill is often good but if they get leggy it is due to a lack of sunlight. This can be rectified when potting up by planting them deeper in the pot.
- Lay some clear plastic over the trays until the seeds begin germinating also helps keep more warmth in
- Soaking your seed in a weak tea (no sugar and milk) can help germination. Make a tea (chamomile is great) and drink it. Then with that tea bag, make another tea and use this to soak your seed. Soak for 1 to 2 days. I highly recommend this to speed up germination.
- When making or using potting mix, warm up the soil. Either place the tray on the heat mat / heat source a few days prior to sowing, or water with warm water.
- Do not over water once you have sown the seeds. And aim to not water with cold but warmish water.
- Potting mix. Here is a basic mix to get them going
- 2 parts coco peat or peat moss
- 2 parts finely sieved compost
- 1 part propagation sand
- 1 part worm castings
- Handful of organic well composted cow/sheep manure.
- Another method I used once was to place the seeds between a paper towel and spray with water until damp, place in a zip lock bag and then near the fireplace/warm spot/heat mat. Spray each day to keep moist. When the seeds germinate then place in the pots. But continue to keep as warm as possible. This is useful for some harder to germinate varieties. (Make sure the towel never dries out)
The biggest factor overall is temperature. If temps are not over 20, the germination rates will be low and very slow. Ideally 24/25 to 30 will make things much quicker.
If you have some awesome tips please let me know and I will add to the above for all to see going forward.
Best of luck germinating.