Spring is gently coming but it is still too early to put your gloves and rubber boots on and start a gardening session outside. Don’t worry, there is always something to do before the upcoming planting season. For example, it is the right time to check your seeds and make sure they will sprout.
Maybe you have already experienced the frustration and disappointment that come along germination problems. So, how to check your seeds before planting them to make sure you won’t be waiting for flowers and vegetables that never sprout?
If you have seeds that are a little old or if you haven’t stored them carefully (in a cool dry place), it’s time to do a germination test to see if it is worth using them.
This is how to proceed to check your seeds:
1) Wet down a paper towel on a small plate
2) Add the seeds (about 10) to the paper towel, 3cm / 1″ apart
3) Cover with another wet paper towel
4) Seal up in a zip lock bag and keep warm (18-22°C).
5) Watch every two days: spritz the paper towel if necessary and remove the rotten seeds
6) Wait for the time indicated on the seed packet and do as follow:
If most of the seeds (around two-third) sprouted, you can plant them
If it’s around 50%, it is ok to plant them but add some more seeds to compensate losses
If it’s less than 50%, compost them and invest in new seeds
If the germination test has gone well or if your seeds are new and you want to plant them directly in the soil after the cold season, remember that they need light, water but also heat to sprout and rise. A soil too cold prevents the seeds from growing and they may rot. Choose a sunny south-oriented sheltered location. To warm up the soil, you can for example cover it with a black plastic before you plant the seeds.
Also, keep in mind that the vegetables have different heating needs:
– Radish, carrot, lettuce: 10-12 °C
– Bean: 12-15 °C
– Tomatoe, courgette, pickle, bean: 15-18°C
– Aubergine: 18-20 °C
- If you plan to plant many seeds (flowers and vegetables) during spring, get organised and arrange your packets of seeds in a box according to their sowing date. This way, you won’t forget any of them during the planting season!
The seeds need a 3 mm layer of thin compost, never sow too densely