By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao
Many gardeners think that seed sowing, the first step in growing plants, is fairly easy to do. At a glance, it seems like something that can be done by anyone without needing any special skills. But seed sowing is an entire process of its own that contributes greatly to the growth and development of the plants.
To better equip people with proper seed sowing practices, millennial farmer Carlo Sumaoang discussed the topic on AgriTalk 2020, a webinar held in partnership with the Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Training Institute and Manila Bulletin.
Carlo Sumaoang is the founder of MNL Growkits, a brand that sells a complete growing kit for the aspiring farmer or gardener. Using his knowledge of urban gardening, Sumaoang uses his grow kits and other avenues to help engage others in growing their food in urban spaces.
(Read about Carlo Sumaoang’s venture here.)
The first step is to acquire the materials. This includes well-draining pots, loose soil, and, of course, seeds. Once secured, put the soil in the pot, shaking it lightly throughout the process to remove any air pockets.
“Air pockets in soil tend to crumble or break down when water hits. It sometimes causes seeds to drop down to the bottom thus making it harder for them to sprout from the soil,” Sumaoang said.
Pat the soil down gently to give it a firm shape. Leave ¾ of an inch from the tip of the pot to the soil. This space, according to Sumaoang, allows water and fertilizer to stay inside the pot without the fear of overflowing.
Once the soil has been properly packed into the pot, water the soil for good seed to soil contact. The soil has to be well saturated and this can be seen if the water is flowing out of the holes from the bottom of the pot.
When the excess water has stopped dripping, poke four equally spaced holes in the soil.
“Growing or sowing four in a pot helps increase the germination rate,” Sumaoang said.
But he also warns that growing more in a single pot can cause overcrowding and increases the likelihood of having excess stems pulled out since these will compete with the other stems for nutrients.
Next, cover the pot with soil. Sumaoang advised that the amount of soil needed to cover the seeds must be similar to the length of the seed. Any more and the seeds will have trouble breaking through the soil.
Water the soil again after covering the seeds. If possible, place a plant marker to help identify the plant as it grows.
Maintaining plants as they grow
Once the seeds have been properly sown, the real work starts as the plants need to be maintained regularly for proper growth development. Sumaoang shares some tips to help gardeners care for their plant babies.
Using herbs as an example, Sumaoang shared that plants need to be trimmed to promote growth.
“Trim your plants to your desired length. In doing so, the stems won’t grow upward but rather grow sideways and more shrubby,” he said.
Another tip that Sumaoang shared is to remove flowers should they appear in planted herbs. This is because the flowers signal the plant that it’s time for them to reproduce, thus using the nutrients to producing flowers rather than leaves.
Lastly, the millennial gardener advises others to research the particular variety they’re growing so they have a better idea of how to care for them.
By following these simple steps, whatever has been planted may become more productive, thus making gardening more satisfying in the long run.
Click here to read Sumaoang’s quick tips on how to manage pests and properly fertilize plants.