Starting seeds in agar or gelatin?

I have some very old pepper seeds that I'm trying to grow mostly for a seed crop to keep the variety going. I've planted them twice already; I put them in a damp paper towel on a heated bathroom floor, and they germinate *very* quickly. But they are weak, and when I move them to a little flat of seedling mix they die almost immediately. I'm not sure if they can't push through the dirt, or if they can't get out of the seed coat, but I think it's the former.
The fresh seeds (a different variety) that I handled the same way 2 weeks ago are vigorous young plants and ready to be transplanted to individual pots already.
How about starting some in sterile gelatin? (I have enough seeds to try this 2 or 3 more times if necessary) Would that work? Or agar-agar from the Chinese market? I could put them under the growlights a lot sooner that way too -- they would receive light as soon as they sprout, even while under the surface of the gel.
What do you think? If it works, it might be an easier way to plant begonia seeds, etc.
I've also heard of treating hard-to-grow seeds with potassium nitrate, but I'm not sure what that's for. Fertilizer, I suppose. Maybe I should put one or two drops of KNO3 solution on the wet paper towel before this current batch dies...
-Bob
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wrote:

What do you mean by "very old"? Sounds like those old seeds have been damaged by improper storage.
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Brooklyn1 wrote:

They've been stored just fine, but they are 9 years old. Five years is about the limit for pepper and tomato seeds. (Onion seeds are only good for 1 year.) I had some fresher seeds of this variety 2 years ago and planted them for a seed crop and had a total crop failure due to rabbits and poor weather. I found this other packet from 2002 over the winter.
-Bob
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wrote:

Have you tried putting a couple directly into potting medium? I find that can sometimes help propagate & keep alive seedlings that would otherwise go into shock from being transplanted.
I am a collector of seeds, myself, and try all sorts of workarounds this time of year.
Boron
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Don't know if this info (OTHER AREAS FOR RESEARCH, pg 4-5) would help your decision Bob but if you D/L the Deno reference PDF file from USDA archives just know it takes a while as will the 2 supplements to it.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/49881480/Gibberellic-Acid-3-GA-3
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On 3/28/11 9:56 PM, zxcvbob wrote:

I have heard of using agar or gelatin for orchids. Orchids have very tiny seeds. Hybrid orchid seeds generally require a sterile medium to survive sprouting. They are then transplanted very, very carefully into a more complex but still sterile growing medium.
The problem with sprouting any seeds not in a growing medium is that the root hairs are usually damaged when the sprouts are planted in a growing medium. This is also seen very often as the cause of failure when cuttings are rooted in water and then potted.
Read my <http://www.rossde.com/garden/garden_start_seeds.html . No, this does not work all of the time; but it does work much of the time.
--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
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They've metabolized most of their reserves during their long storage, and the probably just don't have enough to grow to the point that they're photosynthesizing enough on their own. While you may actually get them established, I'd be surprised if they catch up to their newer brothers.

Either will work, though it may actually cause more problems with fungal growth. Of the two, I prefer agar, as it's solid at room temp.
I'd probably use a 1/4" of sand over potting mix, and then cover the seeds with a little milled sphagnum or well cured compost, and keep them damp, but with good air circulation. Automatic misters help. Good light right from the beginning... the faster they get photosynthesizing, the better the chances are for survival. Put 'em right under the growlights.... 1" max.

I used to use fine polyacrylamide gel ("water gel") for sowing begonias, squirted through a bottle with a fairly good sized hole in the tip. Or the old trick of fine-milled sphagnum or sugar sand mixed with the seeds to dilute the concentration when sown.

KNO3 breaks dormancy in some species of grasses, not in peppers. You most likely haven't got a dormancy issue here, it's a "slowly starved to death" issue.

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........
Kay, what is your grow light setup and your photo tropic period?
also, if you do not mind, I have a 2 part ?
1) I've heard similar anecdotal on "KNO3 breaks dormancy in some species of grasses, not in peppers". Do you have a reference or a path to that? Looking to quickly research this.
2) Have you, or the others here, any thought/experiences on using Light, KNO3, and GA3?
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Don't have one. Wouldn't go over 16 hrs light because of the problems with some plants and flowering under 24 hour lights.

Should be able to pick that out of any seed technology handbook or textbook. Try here: http://books.google.com/books?id=cS6rfHocXg4C&printsec=frontcover&dq=seed+technology&hl=en&ei=FqCSTd6tI4rCsAPn_YHBBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved DgQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=kno3&flse which should lead you to some primary references.

For what purpose? Pepper germination? IIRC, 50ppm GA improved seed germination in fresh Capsicum. Try searching AGRICOLA for more help... I'm just doing this off the top of my head.
http://agricola.nal.usda.gov/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?DB=local&CNT &CMDpsicum+and+germination+and+gibberellic&STARTDB=AGRIDB
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