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trouble germinating Good King Henry

 
Paul Ryan
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hi everyone
I'm trying to establish a no-dig forest garden in my back garden in Southampton, England (zone 9) with mixed success so far.

I was hoping to grow a lot of spinachy greens like Fat Hen and Good King Henry but it's not so easy to get them started.

I germinated the Fat Hen and have about 5 plants in the ground now (out of maybe 20 planted originally). Many died as seedlings - they are super fragile and thin when they're young. Anyway, Fat Hen self-seeds so hopefully next year I will have a more significant number of plants.

Good King Henry is a perrenial plant with edible green leaves a bit like spinach. I'd really like to get a load of it growing but NONE of my seeds have even germinated. I've tried all sorts of things. I did the float test (apparently viable seeds float, dead ones sink in water). I put the seed tray in the fridge for about 6 weeks. And then I put them in a nice warm cold frame. Nothing seems to work - they're just not coming up.

Does anyone have experience of growing Good King Henry in southern England? any tips? I got my seeds from Green Chronicle. (All their other seeds worked fine so the problem is likely me not them!)


 
Aljaz Plankl
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Did you sow seed to deeply perhaps?
It doesn't need pre-treatment, it should germinate without it, though some cold helps - sown in trays in early spring and planting out later in the season works best according to Martin Crawford.
 
Joshua Parke
Posts: 77
Location: Northern New Mexico, Latitude:35 degrees N, Elevation:6000'
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I have no tips on germinating those two types of seed. But I did see something......
Paul Ryan wrote:I did the float test (apparently viable seeds float, dead ones sink in water).
Maybe these seeds are specifically different from all others, but it's the opposite of what you typed. Floaters are non-viable seeds, and sinkers are keepers. When I soak seeds this way I give them a few hours, generally overnight, and then I poke the floaters to see if any of them absorbed enough water to sink. But, granted, I don't know if the floaters that end up sinking after soaking overnight are any good.?
 
Iain Bagnall
Posts: 16
Location: Hertfordshire & Devon, England
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We've also found it weirdly impossible to get GKH to germinate despite trying for the last 2 or 3 years. I keep looking for some to dig up but haven't found any yet! We've tried this in Devon and Hertfordshire, with no success in either location. Will try the float/sink test next time though.
 
David Livingston
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What sort of soil have you got ? GKH for me always worked better on sandy soil .
I never bought any always found its way to me

David
 
John Saltveit
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I have always heard that "fat hen" is another name for Good King Henry.

I think I bought seeds about 12 years ago. I got maybe two plants. They have self-seeded very slowly. Mine are in mostly shade as part of a guild of apple trees. I pick off a leaf or two and eat them and let them keep growing. It is not a vigorous plant where I live, which is described as like England in the winter and France in the summer.

I don't eat that much of it because in my opinion, the flavor is not quite as good as other cut and come again greens. I don't think I've intentionally tried to plant seeds other than the first time. I now have, maybe 4 tiny plants in the shade.
JohN S
PDX OR
PNW USA
 
Paul Ryan
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John Saltveit wrote:I have always heard that "fat hen" is another name for Good King Henry.

I think I bought seeds about 12 years ago. I got maybe two plants. They have self-seeded very slowly. Mine are in mostly shade as part of a guild of apple trees. I pick off a leaf or two and eat them and let them keep growing. It is not a vigorous plant where I live, which is described as like England in the winter and France in the summer.

I don't eat that much of it because in my opinion, the flavor is not quite as good as other cut and come again greens. I don't think I've intentionally tried to plant seeds other than the first time. I now have, maybe 4 tiny plants in the shade.
JohN S
PDX OR
PNW USA


Fat Hen and Good King Henry are related (both chenopodiums) but certainly not the same plant.
Fat Hen is an annual self-seeder, while Good King Henry is perennial. In my experience Fat Hen leaves are smaller and a more greyish green while GKH has bigger leaves that are a deeper green leaves, with no dustiness to them. They are both used the same way (as a spinach substitute).
 
John Saltveit
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I think most people in the US call it lambs quarters.
John S
PDX OR
 
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