What is the Best Way to Germinate Seeds?
These days a packet of seeds can cost several $’s, £’s or €’s….and you don’t get many seeds in a packet any more either! Due to this it is important to discover the best way to germinate seeds so that so don’t waste any. The gardening books are full of conflicting advice and many methods seem pretty complicated for the novice. Then there is the problem of watering….to dry and the seeds never germinate….too wet and they just rot away. So what is the best way to germinate seeds? Read on to find out how to save yourself time and money as well as taking the guesswork out of the process!
Seed Sowing Objectives
Your Seed Sowing Objectives:
Before we look at the best way of sowing seeds it is important to verify our objectives….exactly what do we want to achieve?
- To sow as few seeds as possible in order to obtain the number of plants we need
- Take the guesswork out of watering
- Use as little compost as possible
- Germinate the seeds as quickly as possible
- Achieve a high germination rate
Seed Germination Conditions
The Ideal Seed Germination Conditions:
So now we know what we want to achieve we need to look at a bit of the biology involved so that we understand the best way to germinate seeds. Apart from some specialized plants most standard flower and vegetable seeds require roughly the same conditions for good germination:
- Moisture to hydrate the seed - It must not be too wet or the seeding will rot, and if it is too dry it will die
- Warmth - Most seeds require temperatures of 15 to 20C to germinate, both very high and very low temperatures will reduce the germination rate
- Constant Conditions - Seed germination is most rapid and efficient if the moisture and temperature are roughly constant
- Extra Carbon Dioxide - As soon as a seedling starts to grow then it needs carbon dioxide for metabolic processes
What a seed does not need for germination is light, soil or a pot!
Your Equipment Checklist:
Now you are fully familiar with the best way to germinate seeds here is your checklist of equipment that you will need:
Small Plastic Boxes – Look for small plastic boxes with tight fitting lids. Clear ones are good so that you can see what is going on inside, but old margarine tubs are fine.
A Plant Propagator – A plastic tray with a clear lid is ideal, a heated propagator is best and you can get away with using a standard seed tray and a plastic bag
Seed Tray Modules – The seedlings will grow best if you plant up each one in a small module or pot. You can make your own from egg boxes or yogurt cartons.
A Plastic Plant Sprayer – To make sure that the watering is easy to control, and the seeds are not dislodged, a cheap hand sprayer is the best option.
You will also need the seeds, a few paper towels and some standard seed compost from the garden center.
Grab a Reference Book Now….
The best way to germinate seeds successfully is to read as much as you can on the subject and try it out for yourself. After that you can develop the exact method that suits your local conditions and the kinds of seeds you want to sow. Grab one of these books quickly while you are still inspired!
The Best Way to Germinate Seeds is on a Paper Towel:
You may be surprised to learn that the best way to germinate seeds is simply to spread them on a moist paper towel….which is why this is sometimes called The Paper Towel Germination Method! By pre-germinating the seeds on a paper towel then you can just sow the number that you need and it is really easy to make sure that the conditions are just right. After the seeds have germinated you can simply pot them into individual modules to grow on. So here is the MeanyGoat’s Best Way to Germinate Seeds:
- Get a paper towel, fold it into 3 or 4 and lay it in the bottom of a plastic box which has a lid (eg Tupperware or an old margarine tub
- Wet the towel with warm tap water and carefully drain off any excess…the towel should be moist and not dripping wet
- Gently distribute the seeds from the packet onto the moist paper towel. If you only need 10 plants then sow 12 or 13 seeds
- Only put one kind of seeds in each box since different varieties will germinate at different rates
- Breath into the box to add extra carbon dioxide and then put the lid on tightly
- Put the box in a warm place like an airing cupboard. Avoid window sills since the temperature will fluctuate too much
- Check the box once or twice a day & breath in it each time you close the lid
- Once the seeds have germinated use a paint brush to gently pick up each seed and put it into normal potting compost
- The best option is to use small pots or modules and put one germinated seed in each and just cover with compost
- Water lightly or use a hand sprayer…do not over water!
- If you have a propagator then put the modules in that and place in a warm light location with the lid on or a plastic bag over the top
- After a day or two the seedlings will be up and growing normally so remove the cover or else the seedlings will become leggy or etiolated
Click Here for the Ultimate Organic Food Growing Guide!
Step 1 – Pre-Germination
Step 2 – Pot Up
Step 3 – Grow On
Have a Go and See How Much Time You Save!
OK the instructions look complicated because they are written out so you can follow them...in reality this is a very simple method that will save you time and make sure that a single packet of seed will last two or three seasons. Don’t forget to close the seed packet tightly after opening and store the packets in a cool and dry place. The best place to store your seeds is in another Tupperware plastic box placed in the salad crisper tray of your fridge. Look after you seeds and you will save money by not having to get new ones each year!
Take a Frugal Tip from the MeanyGoat and learn the best way to germinate seeds….try the Paper Towel Germination Method…..your vegetables and flowers will work our much cheaper when grown in this way. Let us know how you get on!
Learn how to germinate tomato seed quickly using this method:
Here is some more traditional gardening advice describing the best way to germinate seeds:
Click Here for the Ultimate Organic Food Growing Guide!