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Thread: Chitting seeds

  1. #1
    nickdub is offline Early Fruiter
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    Default 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. #2
    Thelma Sanders is offline Gardening Guru
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    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 at 09:07 AM.

  3. #3
    nickdub is offline Early Fruiter
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    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 :-)

  4. #4
    Bren In Pots's Avatar
    Bren In Pots is offline Bad Hair Day
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    I chit peas and parsnips then hopefully i don't have any gaps in my finished rows.

  5. #5
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    SarrissUK is offline Early Fruiter
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    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.
    Thelma Sanders likes this.

  6. #6
    nickdub is offline Early Fruiter
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    Quote 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.

  7. #7
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    bario1 is offline Work in progress...
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    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!

  8. #8
    nickdub is offline Early Fruiter
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    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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