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  • National Invasive Species Awareness February 27, 2015
    It is National Invasive Species Awareness Week 2015.  Somehow the memo that came to my neck of the woods didn’t highlight the “AWARENESS” keyword in the promotional name.  As a result, it seems the invasive species around here thought it was an invitation to move in and celebrate…like Mardi Gras.  HARUMMPH!!!! Early in the week […] We love hearing from you! […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Invasives and Nuance February 26, 2015
    Invasives and Nuance I’ve had a long and complicated relationship with Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum), and we finally broke up for good this year. The opening photo shows C. perfoliatum’s cousin, Compass Plant (Silphium laciniatum). It’s Invasive Species Awareness Week, so I thought maybe it’s a good time to be open about my experience of […] We love heari […]
    Jesse Elwert
  • Where Do Spiders Go in Winter February 25, 2015
    Do spiders hibernate in winter? Do spiders come inside your house in winter? Where do spiders go in winter? These are questions I’m frequently asked by our readers and also from audiences at conferences and workshops as I travel to speak about Ecosystem Gardening around the country. So lets take a look at how spiders […] We love hearing from you! Please clic […]
    Carole Sevilla Brown
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers February 24, 2015
    Beautiful patterns, holes in tree bark, looking like a sort of Morse Code, is not the work of Martians leaving us a message, or wood boring insects. These holes are the work of a brightly colored, medium sized woodpecker, the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Sphyrapicus varius. The photo, above, is a cluster of holes (called sapwells) that I discovered less […] We […]
    Brenda Clements Jones
  • Dreaming of Spring February 23, 2015
      I think it’s safe to say that those of us who do not live in Florida are sick and tired of shoveling snow this winter. I for one am dreaming of Spring in a big way! So I was looking through some of my photos from years gone by and thought I would share […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful photos and let us know what you […]
    Judy Burris
  • Monarchs for President’s Day February 22, 2015
    The long President’s Day weekend, 2015 found me camping at a favorite spot in Southern California’s Santa Monica Mountains, Leo Carrillo State Beach. This campground at the far north end of Malibu includes its own private beach, a pristine cove on the Pacific Ocean.  To the east of CA’s Route 1 (known also as the […] We love hearing from you! Please click he […]
    Kathy Vilim
  • Bluebirds Staking Claim February 20, 2015
    It’s a brisk day here in Central Florida with record lows hovering around the freezing mark.  The birds are in full flurry, tanking up on the various berries and fruits that are available for winter dining in my native plant garden. I was pleased to see the Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) are back house hunting […] We love hearing from you! Please click he […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Gardening for the Birds in the Desert February 17, 2015
    What do desert birds need? Same as every living thing on earth needs, food, water and a place to live. So after you put in a bird bath for the drinking water what can you do to attract birds to the garden? Bird feeders are one easy answer, but you often see a number of […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful photos and let us […]
    Jacqueline Soule
  • In the Garden, the Eagle has Landed February 13, 2015
    As I looked up to the sky, the vultures were flying overhead in full force.  I suspect the remains of some dropped prey may have been in the 3-acre lot across the street.  Vultures in my neighborhood are a routine affair. I live within a mile (as the crow flies) of a wildlife management area […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beau […]
    Loret T. Setters

#GardenChat

Stop Poking Around

Some seeds are just plain pokey when it comes to germinating. My general observation: the smaller the seed the longer the germination. Larger  seeds like beans and squash may sprout in one week or less. Tiny pepper, eggplant and tomato seeds can take up to three weeks. Pre-sprouting seeds is one way of checking the progress of small seeds without digging around in the soil to see if they have germinated yet. (Yes, I do that.) Pre-sprouting also works well for tender crops like melons and cucumbers that are often direct-seeded late in the spring. Planting pre-sprouted seeds outdoors minimizes the chance of seeds rotting or being eaten before germination.

Here’s what you need:

Spray bottle, resealable plastic bag, seeds, paper towel/napkin, marker.

Spray bottle, resealable plastic bag, seeds, paper towel/napkin, marker.

Here’s what you do:

Use spray bottle to thoroughly dampen paper towel with warm water.

Use spray bottle to thoroughly dampen paper towel with warm water.

Space seeds evenly making sure none overlap.

Space seeds evenly making sure none overlap.

Fold damp paper towel over seeds.

Fold damp paper towel over seeds.

Repeat with more rows, folding paper towel over each row.

Repeat with more rows, folding paper towel over each row.

press-air-from-seed-germinating-bag

When finished rolling seeds, place entire paper towel into resealable bag.

Seal the bag and label. Check daily by unrolling, seeds need air. Plant when sprouted.

Seal the bag 2/3 of the way,label and store in a warm area. The top of the refrigerator is fine. Open and unroll daily, seeds need air to germinate. When they have sprouted, plant in pots.

Sprouted seeds.

Sprouted seeds.

That’s it! Several paper towels with seeds will fit into one bag, be sure to label them and check daily for progress. This technique works for flower seeds as well, if they require stratification place the bag in the freezer for a week or two then move to a warm area. Try it!

9 comments to Stop Poking Around

  • Love this idea. I have a few native flowers that take forever to sprout. I’ll have to give this a try. :) Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my blog.

  • Thank you for the helpful visual demonstration. I have the courage to attempt the pepper seeds again! I think I will be presprouting many seeds this year.

  • I did this once. I put them on top of the fridge, when I went to check on them a few days later they had turned rotten.

  • Lisa

    You bring up a good point, Melanie. It is important to open the bag and unroll the paper towel EVERYDAY. Seeds require air in order to germinate and by opening the bag each day they will have an ample supply. I’ve had good success with this method in the past. It may be worth experimenting with a few seeds left from last year if you aren’t sure.

  • Fun post. Gives us something to do while the weather outside is so frightful.

    I came here by way of Blotanical. Glad to see you there.

  • What a neat thing! I am so terrible about poking around in the soil as well! I’ve also been known to pull plants out of pots that I’m trying to clone (just to check the root growth!). I’m simply terrible about planting impatience. :(

    Q: If you’re unrolling the paper towel each day, won’t it dry out?

  • Lisa Gustavson

    Usually the seeds sprout within 4-6 days so drying out isn’t a problem. If the paper towel feels dry when you check the seeds, simply spritz with enough water to keep it damp not soaking.

  • trying this with tomato seeds now…boy they are tiny. I’m going to have to use a tweezer, a flashlight, and a magnifying glass to see if they are sprouted yet. Thanks!

  • Lisa Gustavson

    It’s so much easier to see them germinate and planting is a breeze! Good luck! :-)

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