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Perhaps the most exciting stage, your baby will typically come above ground in 1-2 weeks. As your seedling comes above the soil, its shell might take a few days to fall off. It’s best to leave it alone, nature has the job covered. If it does not come above ground after about two weeks, the chance of success is dramatically reduced, and it’s best to try again. Even the best seeds have an 85% germination rate. When your seedling comes above ground, it is going to want to see a direct light source.
We like to use seedling pellets that are made of a mix of compressed peat moss and coco husk. To expand, soak it in water for 10 minutes. Once your seedling pellet has absorbed enough water and has expanded to its maximum size, drain off any excess water. The growing medium should be like a damp sponge that would not leave streaks on the table. Dig a small hole about 1/4 in deep for your seed. Use a spoon to lift the seed out of its bath. If it has popped out a taproot be careful not to damage it. Gently place the seed into the hole and lightly cover it with dirt from the pellet. Now that you have started the germination process, your seedling will come above ground within two weeks. The older the seed, the longer it takes for it to germinate.
For young plants, it’s best to use bottled water as it has no chlorine added. If using tap water, let it sit for 24 hours before watering to dissipate any chlorine. Chlorine can also be eliminated by boiling for 20 minutes. Under normal conditions, after soaking your seedling pellet, it should contain all the moisture your plant needs before it comes above ground. As it grows, it will only need about a shot glass worth of water at most per week to keep the medium damp. Seedlings don’t drink a lot of water, which makes sense given their size. Your plant will do better in a growing medium which is damp. Overwatering is just as deadly as drying out.
3) Above the ground
Our favorite thing about starting from a seed, rather than a clone, is that you get to see the full life cycle and enjoy a plant that is unique, just like you. An entirely new genetic makeup will enter the world for the first time, and if you’re lucky, something remarkable might be born.
Raising a seedling, however, requires some patience, gentle hands, and a smidgen of luck. Thankfully pot seeds are remarkably vigorous because they are what’s called endosperm seeds, which means they have almost pre-formed cotyledon leaves before you even add water. Below is a brief guide on the techniques we have found yield the most success when starting seeds and raising your seedling to a healthy plant ready for transplanting.
Seedlings require a medium amount of light in which it has enough to grow but not too much light that it gets burned. Leaving your seedling in direct sunlight will cause the leaves to curl, while too little light will cause the seedling to stretch. If growing outside, seedlings want to see a direct light source to stop them stretching. If inside, a sunny windowsill with more than half a day of sunlight works wonders. Otherwise, 18 in away from a growing light works excellently. Your seedling should not stretch more than 6 in at most. We’ll cover lighting in more depth in a later blog.
Starting from seed is a remarkable journey. Understanding the biology is one thing, but comprehending how a little miracle bean can turn into a gigantic tree that can affect your body and mind is nothing short of an evolutionary miracle. Or rather a co-evolutionary story of plant and human.