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Seeds not germinating

I have great success in my garden here in Switzerland. I've made a typical English country garden with waterfall, Grotto etc., I've taken cuttings with success, but I can not get seeds to germinate. I have tried for years and not one seed germinates, if one does, then it dies. I've watched Carol, Monty and others closely to see what I am doing wrong, and I try it all, but nope, it doesn't work.


  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 15,654
    Maybe you can tell us exactly what you do,  seed sowing should be an easy economical way to fill your garden. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 19,933
    Seeds are heat, light and/or moisture sensitive depending on what they are.

    What are you sowing, where and what compost are you using?
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • I use special compost for sewing seeds; bought at a garden center. I have tried little pods, larger pods, plants pots, seed trays and fill them with this compost. I level it off then place the seeds on top. I either push the seed in (if large) or press a little with a piece of flat wood to make contact (Monty Don's way). Then I have tried a layer of gravel (Carol's way), or a thin layer of same compost or lastly I tried a layer of Perl Light, but to no avail. I then place in a container of water about 2cm deep and wait till the compost is damp. Then I take the trays or whatever I have used out and place on a bench in the greenhouse. And then I wait, and wait, and wait giving a little dip in the water bath every now and again. I have even tried watering from the top, but that hasn't worked either. Is my greenhouse too hot? - maybe. 
    I am sewing seeds for flowers; the last ones being Foxgloves and Lupins: just one germinated, but died when it was tiny. So you see, I am not very successful at all.

  • By the way, that's sowing not sewing - sorry.
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 19,933
    Foxglove seeds need light so should not be covered.  With such fine seed I think it's best to soak the tray of compost before sowing.

    I have only sown lupins once and did them in individual cells, covering the seed with its own depth of compost.  Didn't stop the slugs and aphids from ravaging the plants when they made it out to the border but did cost less than buying them ready grown.......

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 5,938
    You seem to be doing all the right things  :)  l wonder if the one that germinated died due to "damping off" because the compost is too wet.
    Personally l can never get on with seed compost, l use multi purpose mixed with vermiculite. I wonder if the temperature in your greenhouse is too extreme and that is the cause of the lack of germination. Have you tried growing them on a kitchen windowsill for example?  

  • purplerallimpurplerallim LincolnshirePosts: 2,655
    The kitchen window sounds a good idea. Also after damping compost when planting I use a spray bottle to just damp the soil until they germinate,  keeping moisture in with a clear lid. No matter what you do sometimes it doesn't work, flower seeds for me are hard but give me tomatoes and they do well.
  • Thank you so much for all your comments. It now gives me a few more ways to try. I never wanted to have seeds inside the house, but I might try just to see if it works. The spraying of the compost to keep moist is something I never thought about and will now try and that Foxgloves need the light is new to me, so I have taken note. Watch this space. I buy hundreds of plants, but this war on the seeds makes me want to win:)

  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 2,968
    Have you tried using coir?  A coir brick costs £3-4 (in the UK - probably more where you live) and yields enough compost to fill umpteen seed trays or dozens of little yogurt pots, so if it doesn't work you haven't lost much money.  You can add your own nutrients to it, I use seaweed extract, and it has the advantage of no weed seeds, so you know that whatever germinates is what you sowed.  Just a thought.
  • JellyfireJellyfire SuffolkPosts: 741
    Lupin seeds benefit from a week in the fridge before sowing, or soaking in warm water for 24hrs to break down the outer shell, and foxgloves as mentioned need light, and for me germinate much better outdoors. What else are you sowing, it could just be that you have picked seeds that need particualr conditions that you are not meeting? Quite a few like a cold start rather than a hot start for instance 
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