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  • The Good in Grapevines July 18, 2014
    I am sometimes dismayed by the rapid growth of my Muscadine grapevines (Vitis rotundifolia).  Then I spot a bird picking through them and I relax and am glad that I procrastinated on cutting back. Heck, this southeastern native vine can be cut back at any time. This past week I watched the cardinals dancing in […] We love hearing from you! Please click here […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • A Monarch Waystation in a Mall’s Landscaping July 17, 2014
    At the Healthy Living Market, which occupies the old JC Penny’s space in the Wilton Mall of Saratoga Springs, NY, there is a new Monarch Waystation site. I had the privilege of doing a landscape renovation to the surrounding island beds and sidewalk gardens this spring. We included many native perennials, and cumulatively the site […] We love hearing from yo […]
    Jesse Elwert
  • Smooth Sumac July 15, 2014
      Just a couple weeks ago, some of the bushes along my woodland edges were abuzz with pollinator activity. The flowers of Smooth Sumac, Rhus glabra, were the magnet.   Butterflies, including this Red-banded Hairstreak, Calycopis cecrops, were part of the crowd.   Honey Bees, gathering nectar, to help some bee keeper with his honey supply were also attracted. […]
    Brenda Clements Jones
  • Sweet as honeyvine July 14, 2014
    This “weed” is a host plant Honeyvine milkweed (Cynanchum laeve) is a vigorous, perennial trailing vine that is native to our eastern and central states.  Some people consider it to be a nuisance “weed”, but I call it Monarch caterpillar food. Hardy hearts I like the honeyvine’s heart-shaped leaves and the fact that I never […] We love hearing from you! Plea […]
    Judy Burris
  • Yellow and Blue make Beauty in the Garden July 11, 2014
    When I see the bright yellow flowers of the Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista* fasciculata) I tend to think of Sulphur butterflies because it is a larval host for several members of the Sulphur butterfly family. The other day I was out enjoying the diversity of insect activity on the Partridge Pea plants back in my pond […] We love hearing from you! Please click h […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Tracking Down a Lonesome Dove July 11, 2014
    Boy, were husband Matt and I baffled when a friend sent us this picture of a bird nest on the ground, with chick and egg. “What is it?” he wanted to know. “Precocious young?” That was our first thought when seeing a feathered youngster next to an egg—that “precocial” youngster already had feathers when it hatched. […] We love hearing from you! Please click h […]
    Sally Roth
  • What Native Plants Will Stay Green In Summer Drought? July 10, 2014
    In Southern California, we have a problem: There’s no green stuff in the summertime.  Many of our native perennial plants die back and leave you with a garden that is, well, lacking for the color green.  Most of us have this ńeed to see green in the garden, so much so that we would go […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful p […]
    Kathy Vilim
  • Vital Velvet Mesquite II July 9, 2014
      In this summer month when the mesquite pods begin to ripen, I have been discussing mesquite in a number of my blogs (see list at the end of this article). The naturally sweet seed pods of the native velvet mesquite (Prosopis velutina) are a valuable source of food for numerous desert dwellers. Two-legged desert […] We love hearing from you! Please click he […]
    Jacqueline Soule
  • Native Plant Alternatives for Steep Banks July 5, 2014
    Enough Juniper Already – Native Alternatives for Steep Banks A steep bank is always a landscape design challenge. You want something which can cover the bank, stop the weeds, control erosion, be drought tolerant so you’ll never have to water it, does not require pruning, care, fertilizer, or basically anything which means ever having to […] We love hearing f […]
    Karyl Seppala

#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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