Growing our Seeds

Grazing tortoise seed mix and Russian Tortoise seed mix
The grazing tortoise seed mix is for all species and especially those that like grasses. The russian tortoise seed mix contains less grasses and more broad leaf plants such as clovers. Start the same way as the grazing mix.
This mix contains a wide variety of seeds such as chia, timothy grass and other grasses and clover. The seeds germinate at different rates and most should sprout in 2 weeks. The seeds we pick are picked for their nutritional content including essential fatty acids and also the ability to bounce back from grazing. If you have an already established grazing area, just sprinkle the seeds and water daily until they sprout. For starting a new area, rake the soil, water and press the seeds down by lightly walking over the area. Be sure to spread the seeds evenly and water lightly (so as not to wash the seeds away) daily until they sprout. Once the seeds sprout, the sprouts will need 10-14 hours of bright light.

Allow 6 weeks of growth before letting the tortoise graze to give the plants a chance to grow some and develop a good root system.

These can also be grown in trays. Cat litter boxes work great. For substrate I use the coconut coir/sand mix from cage cleaning.. For a continuos supply of graze, start a new tray weekly

Dandelion, Plantain and chickweed:
Most tortoise seed mixes on the market contain plantain and dandelion. However, because of the special germination requirements these rarely germinate in those mixes.

So I like to start them separately. I use a container with no holes on the bottom that I place small square peat pots and a good seed starting mix such as Jiffy mix. Water and let sit for a half an hour or so to completely saturate the media. For plantain and chickweed as these seeds are really small, it's almost impossible to put 1 seed per pot so I try for 2 or 3 and press lightly into soil but do not cover. They need light and warmth to germinate. Keep the starting media moist but not wet. I use a hand sprayer with plain water to mist when drying out, check daily.
For starting dandelion seeds I use the same peat pots and make a small indentation in the middle of each peat pot. Place 2 seeds in each indentation and do not cover with soil as these need light to germinate. These are cool growers as well so do not try to germinate outside in the hot summertime. You can start these indoors at room temperature or cooler and they can take light frosts. Best time to grow outside is early spring and fall. They often take up to 6 weeks to germinate.

Chia Seeds
One of the easiest and very nutritious plants to grow are chia seeds. In any container, tort pen (where they can't get to them until established) or outside. These are in the salvia family and very hardy. Just sprinkle the seeds and water until they sprout.

Corn Salad/Mache

Cold Hardy, preferring cool or mild conditions. Dirct Seeding: Sow in Sept/Oct for early spring crop. Sow in early spring for late spring crop: sow monthly during the season for continuous supply. Sow seeds 1" apart in a solid bed, or in strips 4" wide, strips 18" apart. Cover seeds 1/4-1/2". Germinates slowly (10-14 days. ) Thin to 2" apart.  

Sow 2 weeks before last frost, 6" apart, 11/2 - 1" deep, cover seeds as they require darkness to germinate. Germination in 7 - 14 days.

Italian dandelion/ chicory
Sow in early spring thorough summer (and autumn in regions with mild winters). Cover only 1/8 - 1/4" and keep suface moit until germination. This to 8" apart, in rows 18" apart.

Germination in 3 to 4 weeks.  They require light to germinate so just press the seeds lightly into soil. Keep soil moist, not soggy.

Malabar Spinach
Needs heat to germination, 75°+, 4 to 6 weeks. . Plant seeds 1/4" deep.  Deeply moisten and put in full sun.  These are large vines and need support or grow along  a fence.

Abutilon ( Flowering Maple)
Needs heat to germination, 75°+, 4 to 6 weeks. . Plant seeds 1/4" deep.  Deeply moisten and put in full sun.  These are large vines and need support or grow along  a fence.

California Poppy
After last frost sow in place covering seed with 1/4" soil. This to stand 6" apart when first true leaves appear. Full sun in well drained, sandy soil with low fertility.  Germination in 14 to 21 days.

Temperature 75 to 85. Average germination in 14 to 21 days. Gently press lightly into soil but do not cover.  Keep moist and put in full sun.

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