Spinach seeds not growing...

crafting4goddess(5)November 29, 2008

Hi all! I was wondering if anyone had any insight to why my spinach seeds, a whole pack, are not growing. I am growing them indoors in a hydro system & after waiting 2 weeks for seeds to germinate in rock wool, I put the whole packet into a seed sprouter. Not-a-one have started to grow in two weeks, the ones in rock wool are inching up on a month since planting.

Maybe my conditions aren't right? I know they are a cool weather plant so I've tried getting them to grow in a slightly cooler environment & also I have tried to get them to grow by placing them on a heating mat set on low. Nothing. I'mma 'bout to give up on these seeds & go online to get some more. I bought these locally this spring ('08) & the few I planted outdoors grew just fine. I'm flabbergasted!

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I'm interested to hear responses as I have a lot of problem getting them to germinate, too, indoors. The last pack, none of them germinated.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 9:48AM
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greendude(Arctic Wisconsin)

I have heard that Spinach is a difficult germinator, but an entire pack of seeds not germinating is somewhat surprising.

I planted about 30 spinach seeds in some Rapid Rooters a few months bad and the germination rate was really wimpy: only 5-6 of them grew. Those plants that survived never did particularly well and I ended up throwing them away; I always assumed that their poor growth was mostly due to my growing them under an HPS light instead of a MH (of course, the leaf lettuce was much more successful).

It's possible, however it seems to me unlikely, that you both just had a packet of dud seeds. otherwise, you can take some comfort in the fact that these can be "problem seeds."

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 4:09PM
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I've been having the same problem with my spinach seeds. with a fresh bit of motivation thanks to this thread, and a little help from my friend, mr google, I discovered that spinach seeds germinate best at 30°-40° with diminshed germination in the 50°-60° range and no germination above 85°. couple that with an older pack of seeds and I can see very bad germination results. It probably also explains why planting them in the dirt works so much better. Unless its the middle of summer, the surface temperature of the earth will probably be close to 60°.
As a result, I am trying to germinate some in the refrigerator. I'll keep you posted on how it works out.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 8:11PM
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greendude(Arctic Wisconsin)

Ah, that makes a lot of sense. I guess it is important to look at the seed packet, and realize that spinach will not germinate in the same environment as, say, tomatoes and peppers.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 10:43AM
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Great idea grizzman! I'll keep my eyes peeled for your results!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 6:06PM
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freemangreens(Zone 10 CA)

I've been down the spinach pathway too and had difficulty more with bolting at a very early age than with actual germination. Both problems are a pain in the drain!

A fellow gardner from Canada turned me on to this one:

http://www.stokeseeds.com/cgi-bin/StokesSeeds.storefront The cultivar is called Savoy.

Take a look at it. It seems to be a very hardy cultivar and does well with bubble mist, aeroponics and perlite in net pots sitting in an NFT situation.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 9:56PM
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freemangreens(Zone 10 CA)

Oops! I goofed. That last post about the Savoy should read "Sardinia". It's a type of savoy. The number on the cited Web page is S287 Sardinia. Sorry!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 10:00PM
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I'm not sure if I understood you freemangreens - are you saying that the Sardinia variety is more tolerant of higher temperatures? I don't like keeping my house cool enough for spinach to thrive in summer or winter, so if I could find something that was happy at the temps I usually get in my growing area (closer to 80F) I could grow a lot more spinach, which is a very good thing indeed.

And grizzman, definitely looking forward to the results of your refrigerator germination experiment.

I always have lousy results with spinach seeds.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 12:56AM
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freemangreens(Zone 10 CA)

RE hydroponica's question:
Well, what I was trying to say was my germination problem seemed to be linked with heat. The seeds germinated slowly and then immediately bolted.

So in answer, the Sardinia, being more bolt resistant, is supposed to germinate and just grow -- more along the lines of what one might expect rather than to germinate and then bolt within a week's time.

My plant of choice is lettuce and NOT spinach, by the way. Difficulty growing spinach has played a big part in that decision. I love to EAT spinach about as much as Popeye, but growing it is quite another thing!

Does that clarify things any?

    Bookmark   December 10, 2008 at 11:30PM
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Well I got 4 seedlings from 2 packs...most of them germinated from the second pack which happened to be "organic". So I switched to lettuce & I am having much more success with them. LOL

    Bookmark   December 12, 2008 at 10:41AM
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Hey Grizzman, any germination, yet? I'm going to try that, too. That's a really good idea.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2008 at 12:43PM
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The first batch had zero success. I've started a second round with a total of 50 seeds. 1/2 I'm chilling for several days dry then going to moisten them with half staying in the fridge and the others out.
I'll keep you posted.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2008 at 3:17PM
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I have been growing spinach for years with apparently every seed germinating. I get my seeds from Twilley, www.
twilleyseed.com and use the straight leaf varieties - Space and Hellcat. We give away lots and I'm in central Texas. Planted almost a month ago and have some leaves picking size. I sow seeds directly on the surface of perlite and mica mixture. The crop lasts until it is time to plant green beans. The units are in our back yard so
temperature is totally dependent on the weather.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2008 at 10:33PM
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heres my monday follow up. So I set up an experiment that allowed me to test a number of different environmental factors. Without getting into all of them, I finally had some success. of 25 seeds, 7 (so far) have germinated. I basically stored them, dry, in the refrigerator for 4 days, then placed them in a damp towel wrapped in aluminum foil(my standard germination method) and placed that out of direct sunlight.
I have since taken some others I had trying to germinate in the fridge out. I will let you know if that has the same effect.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2008 at 8:31AM
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I too had given up on growing spinach indoors. I usually have luck sowing directly in the outside soil in the fall. I tried to emulate these fall growing conditions indoors. With the tip from grizzman, I first soaked them in cold water in the refrigerator for 24 hours. I then "planted" them in 1/4" starter plugs. I placed the starter plugs in a seed starting tray with a cover. The tray was placed in a crawl-space in my basement. The craw-space stays about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Within 2 days, I had about 80% germination. I consider this a great success as I only managed about 10% before. I am now growing the seedlings in the crawl-space under an overdriven T-8 light with 9 hours of light. I also found the attached link showing the optimal germination temperature for spinach and other vegetables.

Here is a link that might be useful: Optimal Temperature Chart

    Bookmark   December 23, 2008 at 6:23AM
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freemangreens(Zone 10 CA)


The temperature chart is cool; thanks. I question its accuracy, but then it's for soil and I'm strictly hydro, so maybe I'm comparing apples and oranges. The fastest germination for lettuce listed is three days!

I regularly get 12-HOUR germination for my lettuce. In fact, I have had "Little Gem" lettuce seeds germinate in as little as 2 hours @ 84 degrees F. By the way, I do have an ace or two up my sleeve (tricks!).

One of my tricks is to soak the seeds in either nutrient concentrate or tea for their first few hours into the system, then drop them back to their proper EC and pH. I grow my lettuce at an EC of 1.2 to 1.6 and a pH of 6.2 or 6.3 and use home-made nutrient solution made from composted chicken manure.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2008 at 9:27PM
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I had three more of the preconditioned seeds emerge. I also had 4 more that were not preconditioned before germination but later stored in the fridge emerge.
The results were about 40% germin with preconditioning. about 5% without it. Though I later, after starting my test, realized the seeds were also at least two years old. So I'm not totally discouraged by the results.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2008 at 7:45AM
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bella_trix(z6b SE PA)

I'm so glad to read this thread! I just posted the same problem on the vegetable forum. I thought to problem was my potting soil! I'm going to try out some of the ideas here and see what happens.


    Bookmark   January 7, 2009 at 8:18PM
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Thanks for the clarification freemangreens. I'll definitely play around with some Sardinia. Anything less likely to bolt is good, since I can't seem to be bothered to really fight to keep my growing temps under 80F.

I'll admit, I like heat. So I don't A/C much in summer and I really splurge on the heating bill in winter. And as nutty as I am about hydroponics I'm not going to put in a lot of ducting just so my spinach grows longer.

Some people say the taste changes when spinach bolts but I haven't noticed that myself, at least not the kinds I've grown. The main reason it's annoying IMO is all the pollen everywhere and that it doesn't grow many leaves after it bolts.

Oh, and not that it matters but Popeye didn't like spinach. He actually hated it, but ate it to make himself strong when it was necessary. Me, I love the stuff.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 1:42PM
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