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4-H for Hawai‘i

4-H for Hawai‘i 8 June 2017

4-H for Hawai‘i

It's not just livestock

Beyond livestock, 4-H promotes youth well-being, leadership skills, community engagement, and STEM activities, says state coordinator Jeff Goodwin.

The Bee’s Knees

The Bee’s Knees 7 June 2017

The Bee’s Knees

Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences’s Scott Nikaido explains the importance of pollinators to Hawai‘i crops and how people can support pollinator health by using fewer insecticides and more pollinator-friendly plants.

Prepared Youth

Prepared Youth 17 May 2017

Prepared Youth

Hawai‘i is the second state that trained adults to instruct kids in a youth preparedness national pilot project. 3 4-H agents were certified through the Hawai‘i Youth Preparedness Initiative.

A Web Winner

A Web Winner 11 May 2017

A Web Winner

Hawai‘i Association of County Agricultural Agents nominated Andrea Kawabata for their national organization’s Communications Award for her coffee berry borer beetle website.

GoFarm Grows

4 May 2017

GoFarm Grows

The GoFarm Hawai‘i beginning farmer training program received new grants from the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture, Hawai‘i Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, and Kamehameha Schools.

Prevent the Parasite

4 May 2017

Prevent the Parasite

With new cases of rat lungworm reported in the Islands, Extension Agent Jari Sugano was featured on Hawaii News Now offering some tips on reducing the risk of the disease.

Gut Feeling

Gut Feeling 4 May 2017

Gut Feeling

GoFarm and Ag Incubator alumnus and entrepreneur Rob Barreca and graduate student Surely Wallace promoted fermented foods in a recent Honolulu Star-Advertiser article.

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28 April 2020

Germination Is a Beautiful Thing

Understanding how seeds sprout will help your garden

Germination Is a Beautiful Thing

Whether you’re a fuzzy neophyte or gnarled veteran of the backyard garden, we should never lose our fascination with the seed germination process. It is magical how such little things, buried in darkness, will quickly emerge from the surface, full of life and independence.

If you’re growing vegetables for the very first time, it’s helpful to understand how plants propagate. So be inspired by your vision of a bountiful harvest of fresh produce, but don’t get so intoxicated that you merely “wet it and forget it.”

For a seed to germinate, it must be viable (alive) and non-dormant (no chemical or physical barriers). Your best bet is using fresh seeds, either saved from a working garden or purchased fresh or stored from a reputable source.

Germination begins when water is absorbed by a dry seed. Essentially, this is an awakening stage in which biological systems are reactivated by cell hydration. Next, stored food is transferred to the embryo’s growing points, which expand until the seedling emerges. You can help this process by keeping the soil loose and well-aerated, avoiding heavy or overly wet soil. Store-bought peat provides optimal conditions: water and oxygen retention, without pests or disease.

Temperature is an important environmental factor affecting germination and subsequent growth. For many plants, optimal sprouting temperature ranges between 80 and 90 degrees. It the weather is cool, or you live mauka, you can improve germination by bringing the seed bed or pot indoors and placing it in a warm location, such as next to a sunny window or on top of the fridge.

Most seeds do not require light to germinate. In fact, certain seeds, like some onions, are inhibited by light. However, lettuce seeds are a notable exception and do prefer light.

Keep It Moist

Once germination has begun, you must maintain a continuous moisture supply. Even a temporary drying out could result in the seed’s premature death—the most common source of failure. This is because seeds are near the surface, which is the first area to dry out between waterings.

As demonstrated by my daughter Yazzy, you can keep moisture from evaporating by stretching clear plastic wrap over the container tops. Leave several inches of clearance above the media for the emerging seedlings. Please remove the covering as soon as germination occurs, because the high humidity inside is conducive to fungal diseases that can attack a succulent sprout.

Yazzy had a blast demonstrating the ease and fun to be had planting tomatoes. Try it with your keiki, too!

Ty McDonald, Landscape Industry and Consumer Horticulture, Kona Cooperative Extension, UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources