Why would anyone want to start plants from seeds? There are a variety of reason. Many garden centers carry the same plants, vegetables, and flowers year after year. By growing your own seedlings from seeds, you can get specialty seeds from catalogs, exchange heirloom seeds with friends or participate in seed swaps, save seeds from your best plants for next year’s crop, grow small successive plants, and get plantings from rare or old seeds.
Easily Pre-Sprout Seeds
By pre-sprouting seeds you can see what seeds are viable for growth, especially old or rare seeds. Maybe you are moving and want to take some seeds from plants and flowers to start them over at your new house. This is what we did with the Lupine seeds.
It’s easy to pre-sprout seeds. All you need are paper towels and a colorfast pen. I suggest you buy one of those Select-a-Size paper towel rolls. Then you can use the smaller paper towel sheets without having to cut the right size from larger paper towels.
1. Pull one paper towel from the Select-A-Sheet paper towel roll and place it on the table. Put the seeds on the paper towel in rows, spacing the seeds out. It is not necessary to put the seeds in rows if you are using the same seeds on one sheet of paper towel. Just space them out evenly.
2. Write the name of the seed at the short end of another sheet of paper towel, along the bottom. Make sure to use a colorfast pen or your ink will run and you won’t be able to read the seed name. I like to draw a line down the middle if I am putting different seeds on one sheet.
3. Place the paper towel that you have just written the name on over top the paper towel with the seeds and spritz the paper towel to thoroughly wet the paper towels and seeds.
Continue doing these steps until you have all of the seeds prepared.
4. Stack paper towel/seed sets on top of each other, keep the names visible at the bottom.
5. Place seed sheets inside of a large Ziploc bag. Poke holes in the bag and spritz it with water once the seed sheets are inside. Then zip it closed loosely. You don’t want to vacuum the bag because the seeds need air circulation so that mold does not grow inside.
6. Next, place the seed bag on a source of warmth to help the seeds to germinate. Seeds need warmth and moisture to sprout. You should place the bag on a wire rack (a wire caking cooling rake works well) and then place the rack on top of a heat source. You don’t want to put the seed bag directly on the heat source or it could melt. A heat mat, TV (older models with flat surface), DVD, player, or stereo that is being used on a regular basis. Other heat sources are water heaters, heating vent, or top of the refrigerator work as well.
7. Spritz the bag every day or so to make sure the seeds don’t dry out.
Some seeds will germinate in a few days while other take two to three weeks.
Some great places to purchase seeds:
- Park Seed
- Burpee Gardening
- The Cook’s Garden
- Seed Savers Exchange
- Vermont Bean Seed Company
- Seeds of Change
- Totally Tomatoes
- Territorial Seeds Co.
- Select Seeds
- Johnny’s Selected Seeds
- Abundant Life Seeds