We’ve all been there. You painstakingly prepare your garden beds, add enough fertilizers, order the perfect seeds, and lovingly tuck them into the soil. Then you wait. And you watch. And you water.
And nothing ever happens.
Talk about a major let down! It’s enough to make you want to give up gardening all together. What went wrong? Well, the problem is that as soon as those seeds slip into the soil, it’s essentially impossible to know what happens to them. The most likely culprit is the seed never germinated to begin with.
So what is a gardener to do?
The answer? Pre-germination! If you only put germinated seeds into the ground, you are much more likely to have a successful sprouted seed, which will grow into the beautiful plant you always knew it could be. Right? Yes.
Luckily for all of us, there is a simple method that all of us, no doubt, have done at some point in an Elementary Science class. Seeds actually need very little to germinate. The main element necessary is moisture. I live in the desert…guess how fast the top 1/4 inch of soil dries out here on a warm Spring day? I’ve never timed it, but I’m guessing less than an hour after I water my seedlings, that soil is on it’s way to drier than dry! Which means, dried out seeds, no germination, and no food for me. Fortunately, pre-sprouting your seeds saves a great number of disappointments in the gardening department of life.
Tools for the Pre-Sprouting Method
- Paper Towels (I try to use recycled and non chemical paper towels)
- Ziplock Plastic Baggie
- Masking Tape
Ready? This is going to be so easy and quick you’ll wonder why you haven’t been doing it your whole dag gone life.
- Soak paper towel and slightly ring out, so it’s not dripping everywhere but very wet
- Tap desired quantity of seeds onto wet paper towel
- Fold paper towel up into a square and tuck it inside of a ziplock bag
- Label the bag with the masking tape and sharpie
- Put the baggie in a warm place until germination
Make sure you check your sprouts every day. I like to open the towel up every few days to make sure none of the seeds are molding, which is rare but can happen.
Once you have sprouted seeds (congrats!) you can carefully unfold the wet paper towel and plant each sprouted seedling according to the packets direction (or just roughly 1 inch apart, if you don’t have a packet with directions).
Some seeds are very tiny and need to be handled more gently. For seeds like carrots and basil, you can either arrange the seeds at the spacing you want on the paper towel, and then plant the whole paper towel along with the seeds.
Or, you can use something like a pencil or scalpel to place each individual seed into it’s place. For example, the basil in the pictures below were so tiny I couldn’t grab them with my fingers, so I used a knife and pencil to place each one where I wanted it. A bit tedious, but again, a for sure germinated seedling!
And that’s a wrap! I hope you enjoyed this handy gardening tip and use it to your advantage in all your garden adventures!