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Why does my seed packet seem to contain nothing at all?!
Hints for Tiny Seeds and an Explanation for Smaller Quantities
Many home gardeners are surprised at just how tiny some seeds can be. Especially varieties such as petunias, allysum, foxglove, poppies, cabbage and broccoli. I got used to dealing with a wide range of seed sizes, so at first I didn’t realize the confusion involved with a buyer receiving tiny seeds and a completely different expectation! It can be jarring for someone to buy a couple seeds expecting what you normally buy with a seed packet crammed full of large seeds at your local Home Depot or Walmart. Then open a packet of more rare, almost microscopic dust-like seeds and feel like something is missing.
The interesting thing is that just 5 pumpkin or sunflower seeds are comparatively large and commanding. You can easily plant them one at a time and see exactly what is happening. It appears that because they are bigger seeds, they are more “substantial.” Some seeds like petunias and poppies (frequently sold in my store) are so tiny they are almost the size of dust particles! It can look like you have an empty packet. But every petunia plant that exists on the planet started from a tiny seed. I’ve sold a TON of pumpkin seeds, 4 seeds per packet. And never had one complaint. But I’ve had people get completely hysterical because there are “only” 10-25 rare petunia seeds in one packet! If it’s hard to see, it must not be worth as much! “I’ve been ripped off!”
There are also some varieties that are rare, hard to find, or only available in small quantities. Many of these are designed for a more serious hobbyist or botanist in mind, rather than being mass produced like many popular garden varieties found in places like chain gardening stores. They are able to take a smaller quantity and germinate in seed starter trays or pots. Then transplant once those are larger and more manageable plants. When you have a few developed plants, you can then take seeds, cuttings, or otherwise propagate as many as needed.
What are you even supposed to do with really small seeds? How do you plant them? Here are some suggestions.
1. Use reading glasses so you can see the seeds more easily. Or a magnifying glass.
2. When planted, mist these seeds with a water spray bottle so they are damp without being overwhelmed by your watering source. A garden hose blast would dislodge them easily.
3. Look into buying seed warming mats. Use these to just get your indoor seeds to germinate. Then remove from the heating mat immediately after they germinate. If you keep the seeds on the warming mat after they have germinated, the plants could dry out or burn. You can buy these on Amazon.com.
4. Plant your seeds one by one into seed start pots or seed trays. Once the seeds germinate and develop, you can transplant outdoors. And easily see the individual plants! (Make sure you harden indoor grown plants before transplanting so they don’t go into shock during transplanting!)
5. You can use a pointed object like a toothpick, needle or exacto knife to separate the seeds. I sometimes touch a seed with the end of my index finger and the seeds will attach just long enough to move them to the planting area or seed tray. Just make sure you have a sheet of paper under your finger when moving seeds around to catch in case they fall.
6. You can fold a piece of paper in half and place your seeds on there. Then you can easily pour any extras back into your seed package when done. It’s also easier to see the individual seeds on a white background.
7. I’ve also heard of people keeping toothpicks in their mouths. Then removing the moistened toothpicks and touching seeds, which grabs ahold of the seeds, then gently tapping, allowing them to be dropped in place.
Hopefully some of these ideas help!
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