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Propagator Help

hi all 

New to using a propagator and thought I would give it a practice run last night with some sweetpeas. 

The bit I`m confused on is how much to water the container. 

I`m using a garland super 7 heating prop

I filled half of 1 container with seed compost, then soaked it and let it sit in the sink to drain, I then firmed it down with kitchen towel to soak any excess. 

I then filled 1/2 the remaing container with dry compost, put 8 seeds on, then covered with more dry compost. Adding a thin scattering of vermiculite on top. I then used a spray bottle to lightly moisten the surface. 

Lids on, and covered with tea towel (read that sweetpeas need dark for 2-3 days) 

Couple of questions 

Did I do it right ? 

If not what should I change ? 

going forward how often do I water ? 

Many thanks


Last edited: 06 January 2017 13:16:09



  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 9,701

    The way I do it -

    Fill seed tray with compost evenly to the top.
    Press down lightly just to ensure no gaps or holes.
    Make a small hole with a finger or pencil (seeds are usually planted at a depth 2-3 times their size) and pop the sweet pea in leaving about 1.5" between each seed.
    Give it a light watering just to dampen the compost then let the seeds do their thing.

    If you're sowing very small seed then the 1st 2 steps above are the same. Give the compost a light watering, then sprinkle the seed on top and add a little vermiculite to cover them and a quick spray with water just to settle the vermiculite.

    Don't over-wet the compost or you may get damping off disease.

    It's quite early in the year to be sowing seed and you're likely to find that your sweet peas grow long and spindly due to the lack of decent sunlight. I usually sow mine early March. 
    Best of luck!

    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • Peter-T-Peter-T- Posts: 138

    thanks for the reply Pete8, agreed on the timing, its literally to give a practice and try to learn from it. 

    Sound like I may well have overwatered tho :( 

    See what happens in the next few days. 

  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 9,701

    Hope they pop up for you Peter.
    Plant roots need oxygen as much as water and the reason germination fails is often because the compost is much too wet which will encourage all sorts of fungi that attack the tiny tap root before it gets going.
    Sweet peas are usually quite easy and they're hardy too, so soon as they start to emerge I'd keep the lid off and give them as much light as possible.
    A good idea to have a test-run.

    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • Peter-T-Peter-T- Posts: 138

    I`ll be honest I kind of made up my method image

    Thought process was damp 50% base, dry 50% top half, then spray every 2 days

    Hoping the damp base would rise with the heat from the propagator. 

    really appreciate your comments, only way to learn image

  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 9,701

    I made up my own methods too, only by experience, help and research do we learn.
    I've loved gardening for 50+ yrs now and still learn - never too old to learn. image

    Always best to have the compost evenly damp throughout.
    Tiny seeds (eg lobelia, begonia and petunia [which are almost invisible]) will produce tiny roots so you need to ensure the top of the compost doesn't dry out, and vermiculite is good at holding moisture and creating a micro-climate for the seeds to germinate.
    The lids will keep the humidity up too. But once the plants are above the compost, you don't want too much humidity as it can encourage damping off.

    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • Peter-T-Peter-T- Posts: 138

    Brilliant, thanks. 

    I`ve really only just started last year, but this year is my first year trying from seed. 

    Lots of bulbs planted out also. Waiting game now :)

    2 propagators and 10 different types of seed, should be a fun few months 

  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 9,701

    Good luck Peter

    Do post any questions, it's a very friendly and helpful forum from which I've learned  lot.

    I've got 56 packets of seed to keep me occupied this spring, and just ordered a 2nd propagator to help me cope.

    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • Peter-T-Peter-T- Posts: 138


    So, 1 week on and we have success, first shoot was yesterday, last 24hrs a lot of activity, very impressed

    Last edited: 12 January 2017 15:03:47

  • Kitty 2Kitty 2 ManchesterPosts: 5,150

    Sweet peas are looking good Peter?image

    This will be my first year of sowing in a heated propagator, but haven't started yet.

    Here is a link to this years seedlings thread if you're interested in joining in.

    There are quite a few seedaholics on the forum who like to share photos of our progress?image

  • Peter-T-Peter-T- Posts: 138

    Excellent, can see it being a busy thread image

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