Alyssum and direct sowing

prairiemoon2 z6 MAJune 23, 2014

I've tried to direct sow Alyssum this year. I wanted to cover a larger area than usual and using seed sounded like it would give me the best chance of doing that.

I have not found this an easy job to do. Sowing the seed was no problem, but keeping the bare surface of the soil moist long enough for them to germinate is proving more difficult. I have gotten some germination, but I added more seed and extended the time needed to water and I'm sure I've left it too long a couple of times.

I tried watering 3x a day on this bed that is only in 6hrs of sun a day, but on days when the sun is out all day, it has still dried out between my waterings and I can't go out there any more than that. Plus the water puddles a little and runs down to the lowest point of the bed taking the seeds with them and I get clumps of germinated seeds and blank spaces with no seed. It slopes slightly, barely noticeable.

It has made me think I won't try this again, but I thought I'd ask if there was some trick to it that I hadn't thought of?

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jerseygirl07603 z6NJ

The area I wanted to sow alyssum had been treated with Preen so I couldn't direct sow. I sowed a bunch in several flats with cell packs. Had them on partially shaded patio, could easily keep moist and they germinated quickly. Just popped them out of cell packs and into ground.
A thought for direct sowing - next year, sow them earlier in season before the hot weather sets in. Early May.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 12:14PM
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A trick used by desert gardeners is to soak the area, spread the seeds, rake them in lightly, then cover the area with a layer of branches or even a couple inches of straw.

It protects the ground just enough that you have better germination.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 12:19PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Well, that's two three ideas I didn't have yesterday. :-) We were building new raised beds for the vegetable garden this spring and the alyssum was as an underplanting under all the Pepper plants in one bed. That's why I didn't get it going earlier.

I like the idea of sowing them in six packs and letting them stay moist on a part shade patio and earlier in the season too. A thin layer of hay or branches would work too if I decide to try to direct sow again.

I knew all the smart people on GW would have solutions! :-) Thanks!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 1:02PM
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Next year, try wintersowing them, that works very well for me. You get sturdy little seedlings that are already hardened off when you are ready to transplant to the garden. Check out the wintersowing forums for tips.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 2:34PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I have winter sown before and I hope to again next winter. Another good suggestion. Thanks! :-)

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 3:09PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

on my sand ... they reappear.. every year.. with no supplemental water ...

i think you are way overthinking that water was the issue ...

of course.. my seed was dropped last season.. by plants that have reappeared for a decade ... which makes me wonder if your seed was viable.. or cold treated if need be ... in other words.. and i know i am struggling here with the words.... you planted in the season opposite those which fell naturally from the plant ...

you dont mention timing either.. shall we presume you spread the seed.. just after snow melt??? .. very early spring ... when watering shouldnt have been that much of an issue with cold humid days???

if you just recently did it .. you might get germination .. next year?????


    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 9:11AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Alyssum doesn't need cold treatment, to my knowledge. I did just sow the seed within the last 10 days or so on multiple days. I used 5 brand new packets of seed. I did get germination within four days with the first sowing but was not satisfied with where they were all coming up so I added more seed, but then it was hot and sunny and I couldn't keep up with how quickly the surface of the soil dried out and so far, haven't had much more additional germination. If I were able to sow the seed in early spring, I doubt I would have had much of a problem. Especially since we had a lot of cloudy days.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 10:46AM
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franeli(z4 NH)

I always use a shade cloth after watering seeds if it's sunny and warm. For me,it's usually carrots and mid/ late season lettuce,beets,+broccoli.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 12:44PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Hi Franeli, I was sowing seed in a 4ft x 12ft bed. I could have placed milk crates over it for shade if I had thought of it, but still wouldn't have shaded the whole bed. I didn't have shade cloth, do they come that large? Do you lay it just over the surface or erect it on something?

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 3:14PM
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franeli(z4 NH)

I have a shade cloth (black) from Johnny's catalog that I have cut to various sizes:seed,water and cover the area.
I also use remay to shade and for hoop tunnels. Husband bought a large bolt of it years is 6 feet wide and cut to fit 16-18foot beds.
I have a lot of it. Let me know if I can send some??

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 8:03AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Aren't you kind to offer, thanks very much! :-)

Unfortunately, I am suddenly reduced to the bare minimum in the garden for awhile, with a strained achilles tendon. I've been limping along with it, but now docs orders will keep me out of the garden. Some of my plans are now officially on hold and may wait until next year. Family are helping keep up with everything on the weekends, thankfully!

I did go and look at the shade cloth at Johnny's. I see they have different percentages of shade - 30% and 50%. I couldn't use a roll as large as they offer or justify the cost for the minor use that I have right now. I'm not used to thinking in terms of 'shading' my beds, either, because I only have between 6-7 hrs of sun on my vegetable garden [where I've been direct sowing] and I'm more concerned with not getting enough sun. [g]

I am going to try this again at some point and getting shaded enough to keep it from drying out sounds like the way to go. I also have some Remay and If I had done it in May I would have been all set, we barely had a sunny day. :-)

Thanks again for the offer and the advice, I appreciate it!

This post was edited by prairiemoon2 on Thu, Jun 26, 14 at 10:00

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 9:57AM
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I direct sowed Alyssum here in a 4x16' full sun border in late April, misted indifferently. Over-rich soil and a long cool damp Spring yielded monsters that were 12" and still growing (since sheared) - but they were not as thick on the ends of the vorder, which get most wind/sun. Also WS's some "Tiny Tim" Alyssum, put them in shady front yard about a week later and they're spreading like crazy, flowering lightly. Sounds like you just got your seed down too late - I think they do need a bit of cold, most packets say Sow before last frost.

BTW - won't direct sow next year because I think the thick growth caused me to lose out on some other direct sows. I'll go w/WS and just Hunk them Seedlings where I want them to start from.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 3:55PM
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