Why does nothing grow from seed?
Two years ago I grew peas in an area that had been a small grape arbor, in King City, Washington County. I have since planted peas 3 times, once after soaking the peas with anti-something, and not one pea came up. I dug in the soil after a couple weeks and there was nothing there. I've tried corn, and the same thing--nothing. I know I have slugs and some snails, and I spread the animal friendly slug bait (I have a kitty), and still nothing I plant grows. Weeds grow, but nothing from seed. What is wrong? Thank you.
Washington County Oregon
Thank you for your question.
There are a few things that could be causing your peas not to germinate.
You could be using old seeds, so check the packet. If the packet is more than three years old, it is possible that they are too old to germinate.
The soil in that spot could be too cold. Temperatures between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit are best for germination.
Your soil could be too wet. Often we want to plant close to the house and under the eaves. If your rain gutters spill over into the area where you plant, it could be too much water for a plant to properly germinate and thrive.
Your soil could be too dense. Peas germinate more easily in soils that have plenty of organic matter incorporated. If your soil is like clay, the peas may not be getting enough oxygen to develop proper roots.
You could have too little sunlight. Peas require as much sunlight as you can give them this time of the year, more than 6 hours a day so that they can bloom and set fruit. If your site is under a tree, try another, more open place to plant.
If none of these scenarios are the case, you may wish to soak the seeds overnight and sprout them before putting them in the ground. This takes a bit of attention, because once sprouting begins, peas need to go into the ground soon.
Corn is subject to all of the conditions above, but requires more than 10 hours of sun and a soil temperature over 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
A good primer on vegetables is called Growing Your Own, a Extension publication that can be downloaded as a PDF free of charge by entering the catalog number EM 9027 in the word search box at extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog
I do hope this informstion helps. Thank you again for using Ask an Expert.