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FILLING GERMINATION TRAYS AND TUBES

(a) Tubes for direct seeding

Drop mix into the tube until it is overfilled, wipe off the excess with your hand so that mix is level with top of tube. Bump the tube firmly 4 or 5 times on the bench so that mix settles and any air pockets are removed. Top up with extra mix to the moulded line in the corner of the tube. It is best to use a drier mix no moister than the mix coming from a bag. When all the tubes have been seeded place them in the shadehouse and water them with a fine spray so that the each tube is damp right through.

SOWING THE SEED

(a) Fine seed - Callistemon, Eucalyptus, Leptospermum and Melaleuca.

As a first step, fill all tubes as just described.

The main thing to avoid when sowing fine seed is oversowing. Oversowing can result in a dense forest of seedlings that do not grow strongly because of excessive competition. If germination is very dense, it is a good idea to remove some of the seedlings early on, to allow better development of those that remain. This is referred to as 'thinning out'.

 

The following method helps to ensure that fine seed is not sown too thickly:-

 
  Use a spice shaker, or similar receptacle with small holes
  Mix dry, fine sand with the seed before sowing, about 10 to 1, sand to seed.
  Sprinkle the sand and seed mix evenly over a tray of tubes.

Tubes that have been planted with fine seed must be watered carefully. Heavy watering can disperse the seed, or wash it to the surface, which can result in poor germination if the propagating medium becomes dry. This becomes a serious problem when seed is just beginning to germinate. A very fine spray should be used at all times, and the mixture damped down (all through the tube) but not soaked. First watering should be about 10 minutes to thoroughly wet the mixture. Thereafter one minute each morning and afternoon is enough until the plants begin to grow.

It is very important not to sow fine seed too deeply, otherwise poor or no germination results. Cover only with a thin layer (1mm) of sand.

 

When direct seeding into the tubes, 3 seeds can be place in a triangular formation.

Once seeds are placed in position they should be covered with sand or fine potting mix to a depth of twice the thickness (narrowest diameter) of the seed. Each tube can then be placed in a tray. When trays are full, take them to the shadehouse, and when you have completed the planting, water all the trays of tubes with a fine spray.

(b) Medium seed - Acacia, Banksia, Cassia, Hakea, Grevillea

With seeds of a medium size, it is very important to sow sparsely. Each seedling has larger cotyledons than the fine seed, and therefore needs more room to develop.

(c) Large seed - Archontophoenix, Elaeocarpus,, Macadamia

These seeds germinate quite successfully if half buried on the surface of the mix in the tube or germination tray.

How long will it take until the seed germinates? There is no one answer to this question as each species has it's own characteristics, then there are seasonal factors that also influence the timing. In general, very fine seed takes longer to sprout than medium seed, perhaps as long as 4-5 weeks, whilst some medium seed, especially if the weather is warm, will begin germinating in only one week.

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