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The Resilience Hub & Portland Maine Permaculture Message Board › how to keep direct seeded seeds/seedlings moist?

how to keep direct seeded seeds/seedlings moist?

alder
user 6954726
Sullivan, ME
Post #: 24
what are your most successful methods at maintaining adequate moisture (besides watering super often) when you have direct-seeded seeds and seedlings in the ground? i have mine covered with a light layer of straw, but find it really isn't doing that great of a job holding moisture (bc it's not thick enough) and on days like the past few the darn wind just blows it everywhere else. i don't want to lay on a super thick layer (i learned my lesson last year doing that when it took stuff a lot longer to sprout and then it was hard to harvest...greens etc) but i also really don't want to be out there several times a day w/ the hose.....

yes i could put up yet ANOTHER tunnel but my point is that those who i've direct seeded can handle the temperature and weather fluctuations of the season, and i like that hardiness aspect and want to eventually do even MORE of that stuff and less of the fussy stuff.

am i being too unreasonable? :)
zengeos
zengeos
Gorham, ME
Post #: 174
I feel your pain Alder. I have been watering my wintersown plants at least daily...and I don't think that's enough. I wen out this afternoon and a couple looked nearly dead they were so dry. Luckily many plants can be nearly all wilted, get a good drink and perk up in just a few minutes!!!

Of course, my bulb/perennial garden would be doing better if it had a nice 2"+ layer of mulch, but that's not in the cards for the next month...too busy sheet mulching, and doing other garden/tree planting prep work.
Lisa F.
lisa.f.organizer
Group Organizer
Portland, ME
Post #: 391
I'm experimenting with direct seeding into fully sheet mulched beds, BUT with this variation...

I'm opening up a good sized gap in the mulch to expose soil, inserting a collar from cut milk cartons, then pulling the mulch close to the outside of the collar. Then I plant into the small mulch-free area inside the collar. I do water in the seeds but I'm finding that the residual moisture held by the surrounding mulch is keeping the seeded area from getting too dried out (even though it's not mulched itself).

This serves multiple purposes - reuses a "waste" material for collars, allows the soil exposure to sun and thus warming, protects somewhat against some slugs/snails/cutworm, and allows the benefit of nearby mulch without smothering the directly seeded area...

Anyway, might be labor intensive for a very large planting, but works for small scale. I'll let you know how it goes. Once the plants are viable I'll remove the collars and bring the mulch in a bit closer.
zengeos
zengeos
Gorham, ME
Post #: 175
that's a great idea Lisa. Perhaps I'll try it on my plants going into the sheet mulched areas in a week or 2
alder
user 6954726
Sullivan, ME
Post #: 25
interesting idea lisa, and i can definitely see it working for things like direct seeded brassicas, and d-s cucurbits when the soil is warmer. what i'm currently dealing with is stuff like beets and carrots, where that method wouldn't be feasible. i wish i felt more comfortable direct seeding into sheet mulch. i know ruth stout touted the method but somehow i suspect it's not going to work for me, at least not this year.

another thing i am noticing about moisture holding capacity is that the soil w/ less organic matter definitely dries out faster. i'm working on it! this is only the second year for this garden which is literally built on top of a dump site (old granite quarry rip rap). so another reason to laud sheet mulching and composting, but still, for now..... guess i'm out there w/ the hose.
Lisa F.
lisa.f.organizer
Group Organizer
Portland, ME
Post #: 393
For row crops I have made a "row shaped" opening the straw and used a U-knife to cut a long opening in the top layer of my sheet mulch (typically wet newspaper sections) and folded it back a bit before planting the row.
Jones
user 4562188
Portland, ME
Post #: 2
These are great ideas. Two additional things that might do the trick: for very-slow-to-germinate crops (like carrots) who like steady, even soil moistness, you can overlay an old plank to keep the soil moisture up. Interplanting with quick to germinate crops (like radishes) creates a quick soil cover. Best of luck!
alder
user 6954726
Sullivan, ME
Post #: 27
lisa do you then plant right onto the soil/whatever beneath the newspaper? or do you layer compost in the opening and plant into that?

yes that plank idea is something that keeps popping up... my carrots still haven't sprouted yet, maybe i'll try it there.
Lisa F.
lisa.f.organizer
Group Organizer
Portland, ME
Post #: 394
depending on the crop, yes, i use a trowel to fill the opened up "row" (where i cut the paper) with compost and plant into that.
A former member
Post #: 121
Something I once read but have never tried: Sprout seeds in moist paper towels inside a plastic bag and plant just as they are beginning to sprout. The person that wrote the article said they used that method for all their seeds.
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