Germinating seeds in Gel, Gelatin, Jello

crabs(9)February 11, 2011

Hi, I've been hearing that seed germination in gel gives greater success with hard to germinate seeds because it prevents molding often caused by over-watering and to prevent the drying soil in case one forgets to water the seed.

I am not sure. Does anyone have any experience with gel/jello as a sees propagation medium?


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the medium is not jello/gelatin, it's called agar, and it comes from certain algae. i can tell you for fact, it does NOT PREVENT molding, in facet, if anything, it can facilitate molding once it starts.

in the lab, we use agar to sow some of our seeds. you will need to supplement nutrients and sugar (sucrose/table sugar) if you intend to keep the seedlings in it for a while. after mixing in the sucrose and nutrients and adjusting pH, we sterilize the medium by putting it through an (almost like a giant) pressure cooker and we use sterile petri dishes to pour the agar into. the seam between the top and bottom petri dish is sealed with a sheet of paraffin wax. everything is done under [almost 100%] sterile conditions and in a flow hood. even so, sometimes, you get contamination. you'd be surprised how fast mold can grow in the agar!

you might want to try the papertowel method; it should help to resolve any over/underwatering issues

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 12:39AM
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Thank you for your comment. I appreciate the planty wisdom and you taking the time. The papertowel method does work best. But are you are saying in so many words that there is no benefit at all in propagating seeds in gelatine?
In your opinion, why do some gardeners swear by it?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 12:58AM
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I've never heard of using gelatin to start seeds before, to be honest, so I can't give you any opinion as to whether or not it works. I can tell you from experience that as long as whatever you use is sterile/clean (this also applies to tradition peat based seed starting mixes), chances are the seeds will grow well. I did a search of google and came across an article that claimed 'gelatin is high in phosphorus and calcium' but have not found any scientific literature to back that up (not saying there isn't, but I just haven't found any). To be honest, I think part of it has to do with luck, and part of it has to do with their technique. I've tried every way to root wild roses and have never succeeded while my neighbour throws his trimmings in the compost and find them rooted a few weeks later. Don't let me discourage you from trying - you'll never know if it works unless you try it!

If you are up for it, I'd suggest you try agar. I remember my parents used to make desserts with agar. Lab use agar is in powder form, and the agar you buy from the supermarket is in sheets or look like bundles of clear noodles. It's relatively common in Asian desserts and most Asian supermarkets carry it. In the lab, the medium I make is 8g of powdered agar in 1 liter of water (I'm not sure of the equivalent imperial units). I would suggest (regardless of agar or gelatin) that you transplant the seeding as soon as you can because there are few to no nutrients in either medium.

Keep an eye out for medium that starts to look cloudy. It is an early sign of contamination. Wiping everything down with 70% rubbing alcohol (including your hands) will help to keep things clean.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 2:12PM
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