Pictures taken 01-04-2014, about six weeks after sowing
Pictures taken 18-04-2014. I overdid the green filter.
Pictures taken 02-05-2014
This was my first attempt to grow cactus from seed for some thirty years, and the first seed grown in my new propagator. The seed packet 'Cactus Mixture E. Special blend of rare seeds (230B)' was provided by Chiltern Seeds.
This was intended to be experimental. I was sure that I would make plenty of mistakes, and indeed I did.
5 seeds to each pot. Lights timed on at 6.45 and off at 21.00. Two hours of heat midday (manual, no timer). Each pot had three layers (perlite, vermiculite, perlite). Separate sheets of cling film over the top and over the bottom of each pot. All seeds laid on top of the perlite.
The basic problems turned out to be:
- using the perlite as a top layer wasn't a good idea. I had intended it to dry out to enable the seedlings to grow without rotting, but it dried out too quickly. The first seeds to germinate within a three-week period were fine, but the rest remained dormant. Furthermore, germinated seeds had only rooted to the perlite, not to the vermiculite underneath; and, as I handled the pots, they became detached or buried in the perlite;
- at least two seeds lay on the top surface without their roots finding any anchor;
- I couldn't take pictures easily, partly because the cling film lid had heavy condensation, partly because the lid was too close to the seedlings for my macro utility on the camera to work;
- my lights were probably too high for maximise growth.
My basic solutions were:
- to use more frequent layers of vermiculite and perlite, with the former on top for future sowing;
- to dig small holes into the vermiculite to put the seeds in, without covering. I discovered that a moistened old-fashioned wooden toothpick was perfect for positioning seeds with precision;
- to create Professor Branestawm-like tents with plastic straws, tooth picks, cling film and rubber bands. These aren't enabling perfect photos, by any means, but the remaining solution is for me to buy a small tripod rather than to fiddle with the tents any more;
- to lower the lights!
- 18 seedlings ... I suppose that is something like a 40% survival rate, which isn't bad for a first attempt;
- about a week from 13-02-2014, originally in pots 1-13.
- between 9 and 22 days