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  • Birds Who Tease: Purple Martins April 18, 2014
    Bluebird babies fledged this week from their nest high up in the Purple Martin house. Next day, the Purple Martins (Progne subis) arrived. I guess it was a sublet and the lease was up for the bluebirds. Purple Martins are a picky bunch. They zoom round and round and round some more. They peer into […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all th […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Fireflies in the Garden April 17, 2014
      Fireflies in the Garden, a Poem by Robert Frost Here come real stars to fill the upper skies, And here on earth come emulating flies, That though they never equal stars in size, (And they were never really stars at heart) Achieve at times a very star-like start. Only, of course, they can’t sustain […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all […]
    Kathy Vilim
  • Loblolly Pine Wildlife Value April 16, 2014
    Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda) is a native tree of the southeastern United States. Often growing in wet woodlands, Loblolly Pine provides great habitat and value for wildlife. The native range of Pinus taeda covers eastern Texas to northern Florida, and all of the southern coastal states up to Delaware. Pinus taeda Botanical Description Pinus taeda: This tree [ […]
    Carole Sevilla Brown
  • For The Love of a Tree April 12, 2014
      Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come.  ~Chinese proverb       You may remember last year I wrote about the plight of our ash trees.   It was just about this time, in early spring, that we were saying goodbye to 4 of our mature ash trees […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful photos and let u […]
    Donna Donabella
  • Squirrelly Squirrels in the Garden April 11, 2014
    Squirrels are a normal occurrence in a great many beautiful wildlife gardens.  Up until this year, suprisingly my yard was not one of them. Perhaps not so surprisingly after all.  When I purchased my plot back in 2006, it was pretty much clear cut sans a smattering of long leaf pine trees.  Squirrel have a […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to s […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Go Forth and … Purchase April 10, 2014
    Spring is a wonderful time to buy plants and the stores are full of them. Even the grocery store had everything from annuals to potted fruit trees to tempt shoppers the other day. Native plant lovers are no less immune to the call of a plant sale than anyone else and luckily spring native plant […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the b […]
    Ellen Honeycutt
  • Birding Festivals Through The Year April 9, 2014
    If you want to learn more about the birds in your wildlife garden, one of the best things you can do is to attend birding festivals near you to learn more about birds in their natural habitats. One of the big things on my bucket list is to travel around the country going from birding […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful ph […]
    Carole Sevilla Brown
  • Spring, Up Close April 7, 2014
    I love macro photography. The ability to look very closely takes the most ordinary object and makes it extraordinary. I thought it would be fun to take a “macro-eyed” view of my wildlife garden during each season. Here’s my offering for Spring 2014. In the grand food web of life, plants are the heavy-lifters. In […] We love hearing from you! Please click her […]
    Christy Peterson
  • Pollinators: Soldier Boy, oh my Little Soldier Boy April 4, 2014
    When you talk pollinators, most people expect a conversation about bees and/or butterflies.   Often flies will be considered as backups.  Well, let’s add another player to the pollination conversation…BEETLES. The Margined Soldier Beetle a.k.a. Margined Leatherwing (Chauliognathus marginatus) is here to dispel the myth that beetles are evil.   Hey, we aren’t […]
    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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