Seed Starting

If you’re anywhere on the East coast, you’re probably hunkered down indoors, cup of your choice of hot beverage in hand, covered in a blanket, waiting out the cold and snow and nasty conditions outside. So it may seem odd to talk about seeds and spring and plantings, but now is the time to start planning your spring garden! In the next couple of months, a lot of gardeners will begin to purge their seed collections. As seeds age, they lose their viability, and are less likely to germinate, given the appropriate nurturing. I’ve picked up literally trash-bags full of seed packets every spring from Freecycle.

All seed packets will have a date on them. This is the date that they can guarantee and certain germination percentage. If your seeds are a couple years old, or have been stored in extreme temperatures, chances are their germination rates are falling.

There is a very simple way to test germination rates, and to see if your seeds are at all viable.

Testing Seeds

Testing Seeds

  1. If the seeds are a good size, put them in a small glass and pour water on top of them. If they float, they do not have an embryo and will not germinate.
Testing Seeds (2)

Testing Seeds (2)

Testing Seeds (3)

Testing Seeds (3)

2. Dampen a white paper towel and arrange 10 or so seeds, evenly spaced, and roll them up in the paper towel.

Testing Seeds (4)

Testing Seeds (4)

3. Place in a small, labeled, plastic bag. A more green solution is to put them in small glass containers (baby food jars, small jelly jars, etc.) that you can clean out and reuse for something else later. Just make sure to label them well so you know what they are when you transplant them.

4. Check the seeds daily, to make sure the paper towel does not dry out. Depending on the species, they could germinate in a day, or a week, check them delicately every several days.

5. Once the seeds have germinated they’ll need sunlight. Using tweezers, delicately transplant them to a prepared seed starter tray or pot.

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One thought on “Seed Starting

  1. Pingback: Wall To Wall Shag « The Great Dorset Vegetable Experiment

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