Germination setup and components
Location – Your germination / growing area should receive adequate sunlight, but should also be protected from the harsh midday sun. Ideally you want to put up a shade net / plastic that can filter the direct sunlight so that your seeds / seedlings still receive adequate light, but are protected. Dappled light shining through trees or shrubs will also do.
Cleanliness – Young seedlings are susceptible to infections; bacterial, viral, fungal. Although many of these are transmitted by insects (more on that later), as humans we are often the culprits when it comes to infecting our plants. It is important that your germination / growing area and all equipment / tools are kept clean and hygienic at all times. Keep all unrelated and dirty items like clothes or shoes out of your clean space.
Trays – Seed starting trays are usually available at garden centres. Most seeds can be started in a 128 or 200 cell tray. This will allow them sufficient space to grow until they can be transplanted – anything from 30 to 60 days after sowing. If you are reusing old trays, ensure they are cleaned properly before you start. Once you have had algae / mold growth on them, it can easily start up again. Use a chloride / peroxide solution to clean off any biological matter followed by a proper rinse with clean water.
Germination mix – As mentioned above, the ideal growing medium composition is one that has a somewhat coarse and open structure. However, it should not be too coarse as it will not hold moisture well and dry out too quickly. On the other hand, if the mixture is too fine, it will stay waterlogged and your seedlings will fail to thrive. The goal is to have a consistently moist, but not wet germination environment. You can make your own germination mix using a combination of vermiculite (see below), river sand and sifted (but not too fine) compost. Mix these in equal amounts. If you are not able to make your own, there are many seed germination mixes available commercially.
Vermiculite – An inexpensive, mineral-derived sterile element that has a high water holding capacity. This should also be available at garden centres and is often included in germination mixes to help retain moisture. We will use it specifically at surface level where seeds have been sown to ensure moisture levels stay consistent throughout the germination process.
Water source – It would be ideal to have a water source close by so that you can connect a pipe and use a hand-held sprayer to water your trays. Choose a good-quality spray head with adjustable spraying strength.