Watering Your Seed(ling)s

comments (18) February 28th, 2011

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yourownvictorygarden Greg Holdsworth, contributor
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Pre-moistening your mix ensures that your seeds have enough water for a while.
Water your seed starting trays from the bottom up. A quarter to a third full should be enough.
The same method can applied to seedlings.
Tip: If your soil mix tends to bubble when you pour water over it, mist it with your spray gun first.
A good quality spray gun is your best (watering) friend.
Click To Enlarge Photo: Greg Holdsworth (All photos)

Water joins heat, light, air and soil as the main components used to start your seeds and grow your seedlings (although one could argue a little luck is also involved). There are basically three methods used in watering 'em:

1. The "water from above" method:
This is the most common watering method, not only for seeds, but also your other indoor and outdoor plants. My weapons of choice are a spray bottle and a quart-size watering can.

First, a note on the spray bottle. Buy a good one. In one of my local dollar stores, there's a round bin with spray bottles in it... and that's about how much they're worth, so don't skimp on the cash here. Like any quality tool, it must be comfortable to use in your hand. It should have an adjustable nozzle and a soft trigger. You'll want one for water; as well as separate ones for food/foliar spraying, and if you have to, pest control.

Second, a note on accessing your water. I'm not implying I'm lazy, but making a dozen trips to the kitchen to refill gets old. I've found great use in the 3-liter or gallon-sized water jugs. I have a "stash" of them already in the room I'm planting in, so the watering can gets filled up on the spot. In addition, if I'm using a root stimulator or organic liquid fertilizer, I can mix it in this same type of container. As a side note, natural rainwater is better for them than tap water.

Third, temperature. Try to use water that's room temperature or warmer. Cold water can discourage germination and growth. It's kinda like being forced into a cold shower when you really need a sauna to work in. Moving on...

2. The "make some moist mixture" method:
In this method, the soilless mix you plan to use is "pre-moistened" prior to being put in the growing containers. Using a small plastic tub or tray, add in your soilless mix. Then, pour in just enough water to saturate it to "wrung out sponge" wetness. The idea here is that the soil is already moist when you plant your seeds, so you don't have to worry about watering for a few days. The only drawback is if you've made too big of a batch, you're stuck with a pile of unused moist soil. Simply place it outside to air-dry, or add it to your garden soil.

3. The "water from below" method:
While this method takes the longest to moisten the soil, I think it's the easiest. Here, you use a physics property called capillary action, also called "wicking". Water is placed in the plastic or metal tray that the seed containers are sitting in. The water is soaked up through the bottom holes and into the soil mix. In my experience, you only need to fill the tray about a quarter to a third full of water. You don't want to overdo it, as it will encourage mold or fungus.

So get watering... your seed(ling)s are depending on you!

Learn more about starting seeds...

posted in: seed-starting, soil, watering

Comments (18)

Arthorbrown writes: its great work..
Posted: 12:23 am on November 9th
LeahScammell writes: Great workkkk
Posted: 12:48 am on November 7th
LeahScammell writes: Great workkkk
Posted: 12:48 am on November 7th
abelhicks34 writes: Great Idea

Posted: 2:30 am on November 2nd
Bethanymullins writes: Brilliant Mind
Posted: 2:36 am on October 28th
maxwilson writes: Fantastic work
Posted: 5:58 am on October 26th
PinduDablar writes: It's cool
Posted: 1:40 am on March 31st
KeithMullins writes: Great one share
Posted: 11:22 pm on March 30th
RandyFish writes: Impressive dude,
Posted: 1:59 am on February 18th
RixonJoy writes: Great one share
Posted: 12:20 am on February 16th
JamelFlower writes: Its cool ideas
Posted: 1:09 am on January 26th
HarryBoltan writes: OSUMM keep it up .. great work

Posted: 2:58 am on October 29th
PeterCane writes: Its Fantastic project
Posted: 2:54 am on October 29th
mrgardenboy writes: Hi,

All you really hve to do is after the dirt plant the seeds water and have it in full sun they will do just fine like this you Don't need to add all that other stuff its a waist of time
Posted: 7:48 am on March 2nd
kb5won writes: OK, I get what you are saying. I'll tell you that I've done all the wrong things before and the seeds still turn into plants. That's one of the things I love about gardening, you get to decide what you do and how you do it, kind of hard to convince me there is one and only one way of doing things.
Posted: 12:04 am on March 1st
lunita1 writes: Kb5won... I may have been reading too early in the morning but the author seemed to be laying out choices in watering methods. These methods aren't really options -- they're all essential. Wetting potting soil before planting is not something extra to do to avoid watering for a few days after seeding. Try filling a pot with bone-dry potting soil and then pouring water on top. The water is likely to roll right off of the soil instead of sinking in .
Posted: 7:07 pm on February 28th
kb5won writes: @lunita1, "a false dichotomy"; huh? I can't figure out what your criticism is. Looks like you are simply adding additional information to what he already said. Is there something you don't agree with?
Posted: 4:42 pm on February 28th
lunita1 writes: This is such a false dichotomy. Those aren't three methods. Whenever you start seeds, you should use moist potting mix. Work in moisture by pouring water over the soil, stirring and squeezing to get it evenly as moist as a wrung-out sponge. If you skip this step, very dry potting soil can actually repel water and you'll have trouble getting the plants evenly watered. Gentle misting can help keep the very top of the soil moist when you are awaiting germination. Bottom watering encourages deep roots in your seedlings and helps to ensure that your potting mix is thoroughly moistened on a regular basis. There's no danger of overwatering with bottom watering unless you forget to discard the excess water once your soil is saturated.
Posted: 10:27 am on February 28th
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