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Sowing

The future of plants depends on how they are sown. First, one must know whether or not the seed is , viable-will it germinate at all? Seeds that are not stored in airtight packing may not sprout at all. Some. of the seeds with hard shells (peach, ber, etc.) need to be scraped with sandpaper for easier germination. Most seeds respond better to an overnight soaking before sowing. The soil for sowing must be fine in grain, soft and loose since the new tender roots cannot dig through rough and hard earth (soil). Some seeds are sown in situ, that is, at the place where the plant is eventually required. Some do better if the seedlings are raised in a protected nursery and then transplanted at the actual site.

To prepare the seedlings for transplantation, make a portable germination box. It gives you the facility of moving it gradually into sunlight till these 'babies' grow tougher and bigger. Get a small wooden crate (one from any fruit shop will do) and open it on its widest side. Fill it with three to four inches of seedling soil. Spread the seeds on the surface of the soil (a mixture of equal amount of garden soil and leaf mould) and cover them with a thin layer of the same. Moisten the soil using light spray so that the seeds are not dislocated, as that will make it difficult for them to root properly. Cover the top of the crate with a polythene sheet and secure it in a place with thumbtacks. This will keep the environment inside the box humid and protect the tender seedlings from birds and insects.

For the first week or so, keep the box in the shade. It is best to keep it indoors, as the temperature is likely to be more stable. Always ensure that the soil is evenly moist, neither dry nor drenched. Once the seedlings sprout, expose them to the morning sun. Do this gradually for three to four days, increasing it to late mornings and then to full sun-if it is a sun,loving plant. This may be figured out by closely and constantly observing the seedlings. If they grow tall and turn towards light, they need more sun. And if they droop even though the soil is moist then reduce the exposure to sun.

Once the seedlings develop four to six leaves, they are ready for transplantation. The beds or pots in which they are to be transplanted should have been prepared earlier (see Soil).

Optimum Distance between Plants

The question of distance between plants comes up at the time of direct sowing and transplanting the seedlings. They should be as far apart in a line as the width of the leaf crown of a fully mature plant. This will ensure that the roots of one do fiat entangle (and compete for nutrients) with the roots of the neighbouring plant. The distance between the rows should be equal to the height of the plant, so that one's shadow does not fall on the other.

Sometimes it becomes necessary to grow plants close to each other due to paucity of space. In such conditions, plants respond by growing unduly tall and the yield is often low. In farms, the general practice is to make the rows for sowing in the south, north direction so that most of the plants get direct sunlight from sunrise to sunset.

Thinning Out is a procedure of pulling out extra seedlings to obtain the right inter, distance between the plants. If you have some extra space, try to replant those pulled out, as one often feels bad about throwing them away.


   
  

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