seeds

Going to try and start some hot pepper seeds again this year. Last year near the beginning I got lots of mold. I also did not soak. Took over 6 weeks before I goy any sprouts. Too cool downstairs. I'm going to try a tray and use a cover this time watching wetness, upstairs where it warmer. Any tips?
Greg
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Start seeds in soil that has been heated (sterilized) to 180 F for at least 30 min. This will greatly reduce damping off.
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Billy

E Pluribus Unum
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I used to do that with unknown soil. I figured bagged soil was ok, but that reminds me of stories of living snakes in bagged soil!!
Greg
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Glad to reunite you with urban myths, but if you want to free yourself from damping down, 200F for 30 minutes.
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Billy

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Covers, without air movement, are almost guaranteed fungus factories.
Try a soil temperature (not air temp) in the 78-85oF range for 10-14 days; plant the seeds with a couple of inches of decent potting soil under them and cover with plain 'ol sandbox sand, about 1/4" thick. Top of the water heater or the top of the refrigerator or on a board over an old fashioned radiator is about right. Should see sprouts in 10-14 days.
Kay
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Interesting about the sand. I would probably want to heat up also. Last year I tried soaking a couple seeds in water until the green started coming out. Took many days, probably more than a week or two. The transplant failed.
Greg
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Presoaking is really a treatment more for plants with hard seeds (and they often need to be nicked or clipped, too). Big seeds, like most of the peas and beans, are something I prefer not to pre-soak , though I'll put them on a screen over a cool mist vaporizer or the like -- big seeds often don't take up liquid water immediately, which can lead to cracked cotyledons and even broken embryos as the water is absorbed more rapidly in one spot than another. Seeds soaked as long as you did often die because the reserves are exhausted by lack of oxygen, and the initial rootlets produced are not properly equipped to take up soil water when you try to transplant.
Sand is the #1 gold standard germination medium in seed laboratories. Though many, many tests are run on substrates like rolled towels or kimpack, when there's a problem to figure out, or when you're thinking of switching suppliers to a different manufacturer of towels or kimpack, you run comparisons on the new toweling or kimpack vs. sand.
The stuff you want is just the coarse freshwater contractor's sand used in making concrete or putting in sandboxes for kids. In fact, the sand we used to buy for the seed lab came in bags labeled "play sand". (I always wondered why we didn't get "work sand" <g>.)
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