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Watering, seed germination, and drying winds

Windy spring days are a problem for seed germination, whether in the vegetable garden or grass seedbed. Small seeds must be shallowly planted to avoid delayed or no emergence. Deeply buried seeds cause many plantings to fail to germinate.

Shallow planted seeds are subject to drying out in Colorado’s dry air and intense sun. Drying winds only make it worse. The solutions include mulch and frequent watering.

Mulches used for grass seeding include straw, paper fiber found in lawn “patch” products and occasionally burlap. In vegetable gardens, synthetic seed germination fabric (also sold as row cover fabric) is used. Anchor burlap or fabric with soil or wire U pins at the edges. Straw is more problematic to hold in place in wind unless a nylon mesh is anchored over the top.

In addition to mulch, frequent, light watering is necessary to maintain moisture throughout the germination period. If seedlings start to germinate and then the seedbed dries, seedlings can be killed before they emerge. Water only to moisten the top one-quarter inch of soil and don’t saturate the soil. This may mean light watering twice daily, more frequently in hot weather.

The next challenge is to keep seedlings moist enough to develop a root system and grow but not eliminate needed air by overly saturating soils. After germination, seedlings must be weaned from light, frequent watering to every two day and then every three day watering. Gradual changes in watering frequency are best to avoid stressing plants.


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Updated Tuesday, July 22, 2014