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bagseed grow

Although still a bit early, many gardeners are itching to begin this year’s growing season. Being able to safely plant seeds outdoors is still some time away, but it’s not too early to assess seeds you have left over from past seasons and order in new supplies if necessary.

To test for germination, spread a paper towel on a water proof surface and wet down with warm water, using a spray bottle or some similar spraying device. Don’t make the towel too wet. If water beads up around your fingertip when you press on the towel, it is too wet.

Good Seed? Bad Seed?

Make the first germination check after two or three days. Keep checking at regular intervals to note the rate of seed germination. Once a day is not too often after germination begins. Most viable seeds will germinate within two to three weeks, and some will sprout much sooner. For example, seeds of the cabbage family will often sprout in a few days while carrot seeds can take up to three weeks.

In deciding whether to use seeds from previous years, it is important to know seeds’ various longevity dates. Below is a brief chart of some common vegetable seeds:

Poor seed results in poor crop vigor and poor crop establishment.

Is the seed poor?


Crop stands are poor if seed is poor. (Photo AF van Herwaarden)

Seed rate needed (kg/ha) = (Desired seed rate (kg/ha) * 100)/Germination (%).

NOTE: Do a germination test by counting out several lots of preferably 100 seeds taken from well inside the seed sacks keeping each seed lot separate. Dampen squares of paper or toweling and spread each group of seeds on a towel so the seeds are not touching each other. Cover them with a second damp paper towel. Roll up each sandwich of seeds and put in a plastic bag to prevent the towels from drying out. Keep the bags at room temperature. After 4-5 days count how many seeds have germinated in each lot. Percentage germination is the number of germinated seeds divided by the number of seeds in the sample * 100.

When it comes to severance pay, there are no laws that mandate how much to give. Offer enough monetary “consideration” for the employee to sign away their right to file a claim or lawsuit. My basic rule of thumb for calculating severance is simple: exempt equals one month of salary for every year worked; for an hourly employee, two weeks for every year. Consideration can also be in the form of company-paid health benefits, stock, outplacement services, relocation expenses, etc.

My recent posts covered how to make the best hiring decisions (Combatting Employee Turnover Before You Hire and The Importance of Background Checks). But what happens when you do all the right things, and you still wind up with a bad apple?

Enter HR. Many of my clients ask when and how to fire someone — is it even ok? I like to get right to the core of the matter: What is the company’s intent? I want to know the outcome my client is looking for: Do you want to save the employee or let him/her go? Once I know the direction, I can help the client work toward getting there.

Don’t underestimate the true cost of a bad hire: Productivity goes down, morale is low, and the time involved in meetings, coaching and counseling probably is not worth it in the end. Minimize the negative impact on the company’s bottom line: Get rid of the bad apple before it starts to spoil the whole fruit bowl.

I am not a big fan of putting someone on a performance-improvement plan (PIP) just for documentation purposes. However, if you see potential value in the employee, and you think a well-written, milestone-driven, achievable PIP may work, then go for it. But if you are putting someone on a 90-day probation just so you can fire the guy when it’s over, why bother?