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  • In the Garden: Cloudy with a Chance of Confusion August 29, 2014
    I met a new butterfly this week.  This particular butterfly is one of the skippers. Skippers are in the Superfamily Hesperioidea, as opposed to say, Swallowtails or Milkweed Butterflies that are in the Papilionoidea Superfamily encompassing Butterflies (excluding skippers). Skippers are a diverse bunch and often hard to identify. This skipper was rather larg […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Native Plants Beyond the Garden August 28, 2014
    I love having native plants in my garden. Every moment that I can do so finds me slipping into the garden to find a beautiful flower, a hummingbird sipping on cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), an insect collecting food or collecting prey, and to listen to the sweet song of birds. As much as I love […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see al […]
    Ellen Honeycutt
  • When a Tree Falls in the Schoolyard August 25, 2014
    We had only one shade tree at our suburban DC elementary school, a 50ish-year-old pin oak, and it was cut down over the summer without notice. After the shock and swearing wore off, I started thinking about how we could use what remained. Almost anything can be turned into a lesson, including a prominently placed […] We love hearing from you! Please click he […]
    Stacey Evers
  • The Worms Crawl In but Do They Swim? August 22, 2014
    This week I noticed that there was some webbing on a Baldcypress tree I planted a while back. At some point my property was likely home to many of these trees as is evident by decaying knees I see when the pond level gets low.  These majestic trees require wet conditions during part of the year […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the b […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Native Shrubs for Small Gardens August 19, 2014
    For those with small wildlife gardens, gardening with native plants has always been a challenge. Natives tend to be not just large size but absolutely huge. Fortunately the nursery industry is responding to the growing demand for wildlife friendly native plants for the small space garden. Plant breeders have come out with some outstanding dwarf […] We love h […]
    Karyl Seppala
  • Wildlife Deception as a Defense August 15, 2014
    Tanner, the English Setter was headed out for his afternoon stroll of the yard.  I saw something over behind a tall cluster of Bidens alba and it seemed to be thrashing.  Tanner zoomed on over and flushed out a Red-Shouldered Hawk.  The hawk flew off with its feathers somewhat ruffled in the quick getaway. Tanner […] We love hearing from you! Please click he […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Baldcypress Ecosystem August 13, 2014
    Birding in Delaware at Trap Pond State Park, a baldcypress ecosystem. After a wonderful trip aboard the Mummichog II for the Cape Water Taxi Ecotour to explore the ecosystem of the Indian River Bay in southeastern Delaware, today we headed to southwestern Delaware to explore a fresh water ecosystem. Trap Pond State Park, near Laurel, […] We love hearing from […]
    Carole Sevilla Brown
  • Cardinal Flower August 12, 2014
      Hummingbirds love it. So do I. If it was a Corvette Stingray, the color would be called “Victory Red.” It is a blazing, brilliant, red, not often seen in a native plant. In the picture above, you see a sweat bee, using a leaf as a resting spot on the Cardinal Flower’s, Lobelia cardinalis, landing […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all t […]
    Brenda Clements Jones
  • Raising Question Mark butterflies August 11, 2014
    Question Mark butterflies can be elusive if you don’t know how to attract them to your beautiful wildlife garden. They are drawn more to sap runs (often created by woodpeckers) and rotting fruit than the flowers in your yard. If you have a plum or cherry tree you may see these and other butterflies feeding […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to s […]
    Judy Burris

#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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