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Sowing salads

Can anyone tell me what I'm doing wrong.  I sow parsley, coriander, rocket and a variety of salad leaves throughout the year but most of them germinate and then don't grow over about 1cm high.  The time of year doesn't seem to make a difference, I've tried them from spring until now, shallow and deep pots, different composts, I've tried shade and sun in fact all of the usual remedies/ideas - and the seeds were bought fresh this year.  I currently have mizuna and coriander on the kitchen windowsill, bit of sun but not too much and both germinated about three weeks ago but are still only about 1cm high.  It's like miniature growing!! I don't want microgreens (in fact I think these are micro microgreens!) I want burgeoning parsley and rocket as I eat so much of it.  I'd love to attach a photo but you'd need your glasses on to see the plants! When I go for a walk I pass a garden where the owner's parsley is overflowing outside, it's about 18inches high and there's loads of it.  What am I doing wrong guys, please help. :(


  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,198
    I wonder if you're keeping them too wet? Most tiny seedlings are better if they're slightly drier, and then misted, or watered from below. 
    If there are too many seeds in the pots/trays, that can make it more difficult too. 

    Even at this time of year, if I have anything germinating in the kitchen [south-ish facing] I have to move small seeds away from the windows, as it can be too hot. Extremes of dry/wet can both cause problems, as can heat, for tiny leaves. 

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • I'm not sure Fairygirl.  I've just taken some photos to show what a miserable performance they've produced.  I've tried watering regularly, watering sporadically, in sun, out of the sun and the compost seemed ok.  I thought maybe it was something specific but perhaps it's just bad luck.
    These were all sown about a month ago, it's a sorry state of affairs.  It isn't damping off in the green tray, I know what that looks like.  It's as if my seeds germinate and then think 'oh I can't be bothered now...!'.  I'll just have to have another go. 
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,198
    I think the ones to worry about most are in the tray - last pic. The compost looks very rough and woody, so it could have benefited from being sieved, to make it easier for seeds to germinate and grow.  :)
    The others could do with pricking out - especially the Mizuna [?] - though you could take small clumps rather than individual seedlings, as that often works better. 
    I think the main problem with all of them is that the pots/tray  are only half full, which means seedlings are constantly reaching for light - in the pots especially. 
    If you can get some perlite or vermiculite mixed in with the compost [maybe sieve that first] you'll have a better growing medium. Then split the plants and pot on into three inch pots, or thereabouts, and just keep them somewhere bright - not hot, and water when needed.
    If they've only been sown a month ago, I don't think they're too bad for size, but I'm wondering if it's peat free compost you've used? I find most of it very rough and it makes it difficult for small seeds, and that could also be why the tray seeds' germination is a bit poor. I often use old compost for seed sowing at this time of year, mixed with a bit of fresh stuff, but it also depends on what I'm sowing. For salad crops or basil, I just use compost on it's own, but I don't use peat free stuff.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • BiljeBilje Posts: 695
    I had a similar problem earlier this year and realised it was a problem with cheap compost (basically wood chips) bought at a discount store. I subsequently bought a WHICH Best Buy for seeds and cuttings and had much better results. 
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,198
    I think you're right @Bilje - some of the compost is so bad, people would be better using some sieved garden soil and a bit of perlite or vermiculite for extra drainage.  :/
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • I was using Miracle Grow and it wasn't cheap.  But I have to agree, some of the composts these days seem to be flakes of bark and small pieces of wood.  Thanks for your help Bilje and Fairygirl.
  • Think you're correct about not enough compost Fairy,I put it up to the top of the container,apart from mixed salad,I only ever use quarter trays, water,press down,sow seeds,tiny sprinkling of compost on top. They are in a green house,got some coming up now. Winter mix.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,198
    I know what you mean @turmeric. It's been a real problem for many people. Some of the compost has been shocking. I expect that all you can do is experiment a bit. 
    Not much consolation though, when you've forked out for it.  :/
    I almost bought some of that when I was a bit short for doing some bits and pieces, and they had it in the local supermarket. Glad I didn't bother now!
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

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