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I was drooling over this well-grown crotan at my neighbourhood nursery, when a middle-aged lady picked up a packet of seeds. I couldn't stop myself from asking, " are you going to grow the plant at home?" She gave me a kind look and said, "I always do that. I stay in this building itself. Would you like to see my plants?" The underlying pride was unmistakable.

I was astounded by the sheer variety of plants that she had managed to grow in a tiny one-bedroom house. Suddenly the crotan did not seem all that exciting.

Watching a plant grow gives you immeasureable delight. I have put together some tips, you may find helpful, for easy germination :-

Use clean, disease free soil and pots. Many seedling diseases are transmitted through using "dirty" pots, and "used" soil.
Provide constant moisture, but NOT saturated, soaking wet conditions. Use warm tap water, if possible, in winter, for quicker germination. After germination, mist seedlings with a fine spray a few, or several times a day. They benefit from high humidity for awhile.
Provide AIR! Make sure soil isn't constantly saturated with water, and start seeds in containers with good drainage holes.
Try to provide bottom heat by using heating cables or pads if you can. Putting them on top of the fridge, in the closet with the hot water heater, or on a warm, sunny windowsill, will take care of that for you.
If you know your seeds require light, they need to be just lightly pressed onto the surface of the soil, and germinated in a well lit area. All seedlings need good light after germination to avoid that leaning, leggy look.
With good light, they will develop nice, stout stems and grow straight up.
Don't plant seeds too deep. A good rule of thumb is to plant them at a depth of 2 to 3 times their width. Sometimes it's very hard to determine this depth exactly. Common sense tells you to plant the smaller seeds shallower, and the larger ones correspondingly deeper. Seeds seldom have to be planted deeper than 1/4".
Food and drink. The initial nutrition is provided by the potting soil. After the seedlings have gotten about 6 true leaves, start fertilizing with a dilute solution of fish and seaweed emulsion. This will provide everything they need till transplanted into the garden, as well as boost their immunity to disease and insects. At this point, the amount of water may also be reduced, although not to the point of letting the soil become completely dry.

"They are like my children", enthused the middle-aged lady. Share some your moments of gardening pleasure and agonies with us.

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