THIS POSTING IS A WORK IN PROGRESS
Looking to start plants from seed? Explore everything you need to know about planting seeds indoors and out.
Get the Dirt on Starting From Seed
Are you looking to save some money and up your gardening game at the same time? Why not consider growing your favorite plants from seed?
Seeds are cheaper than seedlings, and much more versatile. They also last longer, and can be planted on your schedule. (There’s nothing more nerve wracking, after all, then buying a bunch of plants and trying to find the time to get them all in the ground).
Growing from seed is also a fantastic way to get your hat in the gardening ring earlier in the season. Even if you live in a climate with shorter summers, indoor seed starting can get you planning — and planting — your garden while there’s still snow on the ground. And as any gardener in winter will tell you, the sooner you can get your hands back in the dirt, the better.
Let’s start with the basics of how to start seeds indoors and in the garden, and then get into some of the most popular plants you can start from seed.
How To Soak Seeds Before Planting And The Reasons For Soaking Seeds
Soaking seeds before planting is an old-time gardener’s trick that many new gardeners are not aware of. When you soak seeds before planting, you can significantly decrease the amount of time it takes for a seed to germinate. Let’s look at the reasons for soaking seeds and how to soak seeds.
Reasons for Soaking Seeds
What happens to seeds when you soak them? Why should you soak your seeds? The short answer is because your seeds were designed to be abused. Mother Nature is not kind to a little seed. In the wild, a seed can expect to encounter harsh heat and cold, very wet or dry conditions and may even need to survive the acid-filled digestive tract of an animal. In short, seeds have developed over millions of years with defenses to survive awful conditions. But in your modern day garden, a seed is relatively pampered. Soaking seeds before planting helps you to break down the seed’s natural defenses against what it expects from Mother Nature, which then allows it to germinate faster. Another reason is that while Mother Nature actively assaults seeds, she also gave those seeds an internal gauge to help them know when they should grow. For most seeds, moisture levels play a big role in alerting a seed to optimal grow times. By soaking the seeds, you can quickly boost the moisture content around the seeds, which signals to the seed that it is now safe to grow. And lastly, for some types of seeds, they actually contain germination inhibitors that are designed to prevent a seed from germinating inside the fruit. These inhibitors must be leached away before a seed can germinate. In nature with natural rainfall, this process can take some time. But when you soak your seeds, the process is sped up.
How to Soak Seed Before Planting
Seed soaking, at a basic level needs two things: seeds and water. Some methods for seed soaking may substitute the water for slightly acidic solutions, such as weak tea or coffee or even acidic chemicals. These acidic solutions are meant to imitate loosely the stomach acid of an animal. But these solutions are not necessary in most cases. For most seeds, water will work just fine. Take a small bowl and fill it with water from your tap, as hot as your tap will allow. Some seeds can tolerate boiling water, but as the tolerance for heat can vary greatly from species to species, hot tap water is safest for seed soaking. Once your bowl is filled with hot water, place your seeds inside the bowl, then allow the seeds to stay in the water as it cools down. Common questions at this point include “How long should seeds be soaked?” and “Can you over soak seeds?” Yes, you can over soak seeds. Too much soaking in water and a seed will drown. It is recommended that you only soak most seeds for 12 to 24 hours and no more than 48 hours. The seeds of some species of plants can survive longer soakings, but you should only do this if the specific instructions for this species recommend so. There are things you can do to improve how well your seeds react to soaking. Large seeds or seeds with particularly hard coats can benefit from scarification before soaking. Scarification means to damage the seed coat in some way so that the water is better able to penetrate the seed. Scarification can be done through several methods. These include rubbing the seed on fine grain sand paper, nicking the seed coat with a knife, and even gently tapping the seed with a hammer to help crack the seed coat. After soaking your seeds, they can be planted as directed. The benefit of soaking seeds before planting is that your germination time will be reduced, which means you can have happy, growing plants faster.
You may have heard that nicking plant seeds before attempting to germinate them is a good idea. In fact, some seeds do need to be nicked in order to germinate. Other seeds don’t absolutely require it, but nicking will encourage the seeds to germinate more reliably. It’s important to know how to nick flower seeds as well as other plant seeds before starting your garden.
Nicking Seeds Before Planting
So, why should you nick seed coats? Nicking seeds before planting helps the seeds absorb water, which signals the plant embryo inside to begin the germination process. Nicking plant seeds and then soaking them in water will jump-start germination and get your garden growing faster. This technique is also known as scarification.
Which seeds need to be nicked? Seeds with an impermeable (waterproof) seed coat can benefit the most from nicking. Large or hard seeds like those of beans, okra, and nasturtium often require scarification for optimal germination. Most plants in the tomato and morning glory families also have impermeable seed coats and will germinate better after scarification.
Seeds that have a low germination rate or that are scarce should also be carefully nicked to increase the chances that you’ll get them to sprout.
Seed Scarification Techniques
You can nick seeds with the edge of a nail clipper, a nail file, or a knife, or you can sand through the seed coat with a bit of sandpaper.
Make as shallow a cut as possible on the seed, just deep enough to allow water to penetrate the seed coat. Be careful to avoid damaging the plant embryo inside the seed – you want to cut just through the seed coat while leaving the plant embryo and other structures within the seed unharmed.
Many seeds have a hilum, a scar left where the seed was attached to the ovary inside the fruit. The hilum is easy to find on beans and peas. For example, the “eye” of a black-eyed pea is the hilum. Since the bean embryo is attached just under the hilum, it is best to nick the seed opposite this point to avoid causing damage.
After nicking, it is a good idea to soak the seeds for a few hours or overnight. Then, get them planted right away. Scarified seeds shouldn’t be stored because they can quickly lose the ability to germinate.
Will Expired Seeds Still Grow: Planting With Expired Seed Packets
Many people begin gardening not only as a means to grow healthy and nutritious fruits and vegetables, but to also save money. Growing a crop of your favorite vegetables can be an absolute delight, as can herbs and flowers for the garden. However, each season, growers with limited space may find themselves left with unused garden seeds. In many cases, these seeds are stored away for safekeeping, slowly accumulating with what many the gardening community refer to as a “seed stash.” So are old seeds still good for planting or is it better to acquire more? Read on to find out.
Understanding Seed Expiration Dates
If you look on the back of your seed packet, there should be some type of dated information, at least with most reputable sources. For example, it may have a “packed for” date, which is typically when the seeds were packed, not necessarily when they were harvested. As with many items you find at the grocery store, you may have “sell by” or “best by” date, which normally indicates the end of the year those seeds were packed.
Additionally, many seed packages include a “sow by” date, which doesn’t represent the freshness of the seeds but rather the resulting validity of a germination test previously conducted prior to packaging.
While some may wonder whether or not it is safe to plant seeds that have passed their expiration dates, we know that planting expired seeds will not impact the outcome of the final plant grown from that seed. So, will expired seeds grow? Yes. Plants grown from expired seed packets will grow to produce healthy and fruitful harvests, just as their younger counterparts. With this in mind, one may be left to wonder then, when do old seeds expire? More importantly, why do we need seed expiration dates?
Although seeds do not technically “go bad,” expiration dates are used on seed packaging as a measure of the likelihood that the seeds will be viable. Depending upon the type of seeds, environmental conditions, and the manner in which the seeds have been stored, the germination rate of older seed packets may be greatly impacted.
The best storage conditions for seed packets require a dark, dry, and cool location. For this reason, many growers choose to store plant seeds in airtight jars in places such as refrigerators or in cellars or basements. Many may also add rice grains to the jars to discourage the presence of moisture.
While proper storage conditions will help to prolong the lifespan of seeds, the viability of many types of seeds will begin to decline regardless. Some seeds will maintain high germination rates for up to five years but others, such lettuce, will lose vigor as soon as one year in storage.
Are Old Seeds Still Good?
Before planting with expired seed, there are some steps to take to check whether or not germination will be successful. When wondering, “will expired seeds grow,” gardeners can conduct a simple germination test.
To test the viability from a seed packet, simply remove about ten seeds from the packet. Moisten a paper towel and place the seeds into it. Place the damp paper towel into a zip-lock bag. Leave the bag at room temperature for ten days. After ten days, check the germination of the seed. Germination rates of at least 50% indicate a moderately viable packet of seeds.
Where To Get Seeds – Learn About Seed Buying And Harvesting
One key to planning any type of garden is determining how to obtain plants. While purchasing transplants can help to establish the growing space quickly, starting your own plants from seed is a much more cost effective option. Exploring where to get seeds and seed buying is an easy way to ensure that as a grower, you’re ready when warmer weather finally arrives.
Where to Get Seeds
Before buying seeds for the upcoming growing season, many gardeners suggest taking inventory of what types and quantities of seeds you need. It’s generally best to purchase slightly more seed in order to account for low germination rates or other unforeseen seed starting issues. Purchasing seeds early in winter will help to ensure that you’re able to get all the varieties you want before they have sold out for the season.
While many local garden centers and home improvement stores offer a wide range of seed each spring, options are fairly limited to more traditional flowers and vegetables. When purchasing seeds locally, timing may also be an issue. Some seeds are simply offered by retailers too late in the spring or them to be grown successfully.
For this reason, many gardeners now do their seed buying through various online retailers. Reputable online seed companies ship year around. This allows you to order seeds at the correct time for planting. Furthermore, you’ll be able to choose from a much wider selection of heirloom and open-pollinated seed types.
How to Get Seeds
If purchasing seeds for the garden is not an option, there are other places to get seeds. If you already have established green spaces, you may find that saving your own seeds is ideal. In doing so, it will be important to plan accordingly during the growing season so that seed has ample time to mature before it is harvested. After mature seeds are collected from open-pollinated varieties, they can be further dried in a cool place. Next, move the seeds into paper envelopes and label them for storage.
Collecting your own garden seeds is also an excellent way to share among other growers. Seed exchanges are especially popular within community gardens and in growing groups on various social media platforms. This is an easy way to expand the garden at little cost, as well as diversify your plantings.
When And How To Transplant Seedlings Into The Garden
Raising plants from seeds can be a rewarding and exciting way to add new varieties to your garden. Many of the best and most unusual varieties of vegetables are simply not available in your local nursery and your only option is growing these plants from seeds. But in order to grow these unusual varieties, you must know something about planting seedlings.
How to Transplant Seedlings
One common question from people who are growing plants from seeds is, “How do I know when my seedlings are big enough to put out in my garden?” This is a good question to ask when learning how to start plants from seeds because planting seedlings out in the garden at the proper time is crucial to their development later on. If you put them out before they are ready, they may have a hard time surviving the elements. If you wait too long, your seedling may become pot bound in its original container. When it comes to how to transplant seedlings, there is no hard and fast rule to how tall a plant should be before you put it out in the garden, due to the fact that different plants grow to different sizes. Also, the amount of light a seedling gets can influence how quickly a plant grows in height when you are raising plants from seeds. If there is not enough light, a plant can grow very tall very quickly, but this plant may or not be ready for planting out. The best way to judge if a plant is large enough to plant out in the garden is to look at the number of true leaves.
True Leaves on a Seedling
The general rule of thumb is that when a seedling has three to four true leaves, it’s large enough to plant out in the garden (after it has been hardened off). When you plant a seed, the first leaves to emerge are the cotyledons. These leaves will look different from leaves that will grow later. The purpose of these leaves is to provide stored food to the seedling for a short period of time. True leaves grow shortly after the cotyledons. The true leave emerge and start generating energy through photosynthesis that will help feed the plant for the rest of its life. Making sure that the plant has enough of these leaves to keep it sustained when planted out in your garden is important to its proper growth. Just remember, it isn’t how tall but how many true leaves your plant has that will determine when you should be planting seedlings out. But even when your seeds are big enough to plant out, make sure you harden off your seedlings before planting them. When growing plants from seeds, you want them to be plenty prepared to grow into beautiful plants that will provide you with a bounty of delicious vegetables.
This site has many seed types for sale.View contents
Any questions or if buying, contact me HERE