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  • Chitting seeds

    When the weather is cool/cold I usually chit all but the very smallest seeds on damp paper in a plastic box somewhere warm like the airing cupboard. For some seeds which are easy to handle like peas or beans this then presents no further problem when sowing them. However smaller ones, like carrots say, are a bit trickier as the roots are obviously fragile.

    It occurred to me that perhaps you could get the benefit of chitting seeds by putting them in the warm for a bit, but dodge the handling problem by sowing them before any root started to show. So I put some radish seed in the usual chitting set-up for 24 hours then sowed them and now they are showing leaves fine. Those people following this and who are better at experiments than me will have spotted one flaw in my work so far - I should also have sown some unchitted seed as a test comparison - this will be my next iteration.

    Anyway anybody who has some spare seed and feels like doing a bit of their own experimenting might give this a try, and let us know how it goes.

    I'd suggest :-
    a) putting a pinch of seed in to chit a day before the main start = to give a control to know when the radicles are like to start showing
    b) sowing the chitted seed and the unchitted sample control in as similar conditions as possible

  • #2
    I chit sweetcorn because I've always had poor germination with those, but found that once chitted and potted up they grow on reliably.
    So last year I did the same with white runner bean seed which didn't germinate, as usual. I tried chitting some of the same packet and only 3 out of 10 germinated. Threw the rest in the corner of the greenhouse... and they all grew. LOL
    I've read somewhere that soil microbes help some seeds to germinate so I'd be reluctant to advise chitting for everything - but worth a try with a few seeds if you are struggling.
    Last edited by Thelma Sanders; 04-03-2019, 09:07 AM.

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    • #3
      I've never had a problem with chitting seeds, provided I followed the guidelines for how warm, how much light etc that each type needs. Of course some seeds get too old and won't germinate anyway, but I just figure its quicker to tell if you need some fresh seeds if you try chitting them and get no hits.

      You're right of course about patience being needed sometimes - I think my record was some tree peony seeds a friend gave me. I put them in damp vermiculite in zip-lock plastic bags as I knew they might be a bit of a project - after about 9 months I gave up and just put them to one side - about another year later I was having a sort of tidy up ( I know shocking news) and came across some puzzling bags. I found about 70% of the seed had germinated but if it hadn't been for their unusual size, I'd have struggled to remember what they were :-)

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      • #4
        I chit peas and parsnips then hopefully i don't have any gaps in my finished rows.

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        • #5
          I never chit anything. Not peas, not potatoes, nothing. But I did want to see if I could get the lima beans to germinate, so I soaked them in water, then laid them on moist paper, and they went to mush completely. When I stuck them in compost, they grew like mad!

          It's not convinced me never to chit, just made me realise some things won't work for chitting.
          https://nodigadventures.blogspot.com/

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          • #6
            Originally posted by SarrissUK View Post
            I never chit anything. Not peas, not potatoes, nothing. But I did want to see if I could get the lima beans to germinate, so I soaked them in water, then laid them on moist paper, and they went to mush completely. When I stuck them in compost, they grew like mad!

            It's not convinced me never to chit, just made me realise some things won't work for chitting.
            Sounds like the beans were too wet to me, it doesn't do to drown seeds - my plan with peas and beans when chitting is to just keep the paper damp and let the seeds absorb water from that - so I put dry seeds on the damp paper, then after a day I check and see if it looks as though more water is necessary and add a bit as required.

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            • #7
              I'm chitting some peas at the moment and it's working great. As the little pig's tails show, they go into posts of compost, 5 at a time.
              He-Pep!

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              • #8
                Sounds like its working for you - as I mentioned in my original post its small seed like carrot which is difficult to handle when it develops a radicle without damaging it, which got me thinking - I've tried a few options like making a paste to hold the seeds in before sowing, but its a bit of a faff - That's when it occurred to me that you might be able to get the benefits of chitting seeds up to a time, but without the downside of the handling problem if you timed it right.

                I'll try some more radish seed soon, and report back :-)

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                • #9
                  Quick update on the radish seed (v scientific)

                  I took 15 radish seed and sowed them direct in the soil in my large poly-tunnel a few days ago. At the same precise time (watch synchronised) I put 15 more seed from the same packet to chit in a plastic box in the airing cupboard. Precisely 24 hours later I took the chitted seed and sowed them near to the ones I'd sown the day before.

                  Today having examined the experimental plot I found :-
                  1) unchitted seed showing = 0
                  2) chitted seed showing = 9

                  further hot experimental news updates to follow.

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                  • #10
                    today's observations :-

                    1) unchitted seed showing = 3
                    2) chitted seed showing = 9

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                    • #11
                      today's observations :-

                      1) unchitted seed showing = 5
                      2) chitted seed showing = 10

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                      • #12
                        last update, as slugs have caused some minuses, which makes the totals problematical

                        1) unchitted seed showing = 7 ?
                        2) chitted seed showing = 10 ?

                        I may have another crack at this when the weather turns cold again - no point when the soil is warm obviously.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by nickdub View Post
                          Quick update on the radish seed (v scientific)

                          I took 15 radish seed and sowed them direct in the soil in my large poly-tunnel a few days ago. At the same precise time (watch synchronised) I put 15 more seed from the same packet to chit in a plastic box in the airing cupboard. Precisely 24 hours later I took the chitted seed and sowed them near to the ones I'd sown the day before.

                          Today having examined the experimental plot I found :-
                          1) unchitted seed showing = 0
                          2) chitted seed showing = 9

                          further hot experimental news updates to follow.
                          Were they chitted or just soaked? By definition, chitting requires that the root is showing whereas just soaking the seed doesn't need the root to be showing when they are planted. I'm not against soaking (always do it for parsley) and I chit some seeds (Sweetcorn and sometime peas).

                          When you sowed the seeds in the ground in the polytunnel, did you water them? Seeds need water and heat to germinate so if the seeds in the polytunnel were dry, then they would (in all probability) take longer to germinate than ones that had soaked for 24 hours.

                          Interesting experiment BTW.

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                          • #14
                            I almost never soak seeds - seems like a bad idea to me - these were put on damp paper in a plastic box for 24 hours - and from memory some of the seeds then showed a root and some didn't, before I sowed them.

                            Yep - I always water my seeds - they die if you don't - in this case I watered before and after sowing as the soil was dry from before :-)

                            BTW parsley germinates fine without soaking, as long as the seed is fresh

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                            • #15
                              Think would be interesting if compared new and old seed too. Here I have found soaking for couple hours then quick rinse onto wet paper has made a lot of difference vs no pre chit on 2 year pea seed into gutters

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