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Best Way to Germinate Seeds – How to Germinate Seeds Faster

Gardening, Raising Your Own Food

Today we’re talking the best way to germinate seeds, including germination tips and how to get your seeds to sprout sooner, because the sooner those bad boys sprout, the sooner they grow into plants and the faster we are putting homegrown food on the table.

Can I get an Amen?

Listen in below to the full podcast, Episode #175 Best Way to Germinate Seeds – How to Germinate Seeds Faster , of the Pioneering Today Podcast, where we don’t just inspire you, but give you the clear steps to create the homegrown garden, pantry, kitchen and life you want for your family and homestead.

Now, we are in the beginning of April here in the pacific northwest. We’re still getting hard frosts overnight on clear nights. And this matters because in the spring, your planting schedule really revolves around your last average frost date.

You’ll notice on most of your seed packets and plants, there will be instructions to put plants out two to three weeks after your last average frost date, for example, when it comes to your warm weather vegetables. Or it will tell you when to start seeds indoors, according to your last average frost date.

Keep in mind, your last average frost date is a guideline and it can change from year to year. That’s why it’s an “average” date right? It’s a good idea though, for you to kind of keep your own record and see when that happens to fall for you. You can also speak to someone at your local garden supply store or check the online Farmer’s Almanac for your area to find your first and last average frost dates if you’re unsure. Once you know your last frost date, you can plan your seed starting around that.

How to get the most out of your summer vegetable garden

Now, when you think of your big summer vegetable garden with your squash, tomatoes, lettuce, peas, beans, etc. most people plant all of those things at almost the same time. We tend to think of growing those crops together when we imagine them in our summer garden. But there are actually a lot of cooler weather crops that can go in even earlier and can even help you get an earlier harvest.

Some of the earliest plants that can go in are things like kale, some of your cooler weather lettuce, brussels sprouts, onion sets, radishes and snow peas, to name a few.

What is seed germination? It’s when the seed sprouts and begins to grow.

Now, when it comes to germination, your germination rate is basically the percentage of seeds that sprout out of the total number of seeds of a specific crop that you plant. So if you plant 10 tomato seeds and all of them sprout, then you have a 100% germination rate. However, if you plant 10 seeds and only seven of them actually sprout and grow into plants, then that’s only a 70% germination rate.

As far as germination time is concerned, some seeds have a longer germination period than others, but typically germination takes anywhere from three to 10 or up to 14 days, usually with the longest being about a two-week period. Once you get past that, usually the seed is no good. It’s either rotting in the ground or for whatever reason it just didn’t germinate. Normally past two weeks, if it hasn’t sprouted, it’s probably not going to. Below are my best tips on how to make seeds germinate faster.

How to Germinate Seeds Faster

So, best germinating seeds in soil advice, aka direct sowing, it has to do with temperatures. Because if you’ve got ideal conditions for direct sowing, if you can get that seed to sprout within three to four days instead of 10 to 14 days, then you’ll be able to harvest almost two weeks sooner and then you’re going to have a longer growing season which typically means more productions and higher yields.

Germination tips to maximize and extend your harvest

1. Soak seeds in warm water

If you want to know how to germinate seeds quickly, this is it. Soak your seeds at room temperature to warm water. Make sure the water is not hot. You never want your seeds to be exposed to heat that is 95 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter. Water should be lukewarm, 75 to 80 degrees max.

Using warm water to sprout seeds is particularly useful for warmer weather crops like tomatoes and peppers that require warmer temperatures in order to germinate. So for example, if you try to put pepper seed in the ground and the soil temperature is only 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, you’re not going to get as many of them to sprout, and the ones that do germinate will take a lot longer to sprout. So ideally I usually just run the water until it’s lukewarm, around 72 degrees Fahrenheit, and then depending on the temperature of our room, that’s what temperature the water will settle to. Then I soak seeds for anywhere from eight to 16 hours. For larger seeds, I wouldn’t go over 24 hours.

The reason for soaking seeds is because it allows them to fully rehydrate since they’re dry when we’re storing them. It’s especially helpful with larger seeds like beans, peas, corn and even radish seeds that take a long time to rehydrate and germinate. When it comes to really tiny little seeds like cauliflower, brussels sprouts, lettuce, carrots, etc. I don’t bother pre-soaking since they’re just too tiny and they don’t require as much moisture to rehydrate.

2. Plant cooler weather crops early

Now another thing when it comes to getting your crops faster, especially if you’re trying hard to get as early a harvest as possible, is to focus on getting cooler weather crops in the ground as soon as possible. Of course, this will depend on the temperatures outside, but as long as you keep an eye on the temperature (especially at night), you can push the envelope a bit and get some of those cooler weather crops in the ground and growing and producing as early as possible and for longer than normal.

3. Check the weather forecast

I know I know, the weather forecast isn’t always 100% accurate. There’s a lot of room for error and sometimes we get really frustrated when we’ve looked at the weather forecast and then it turns out to be nothing like it said it was supposed to be. But for the most part we can look at that forecast and say, okay, today’s Monday and for the next four days it’s going to be rainy and cooler. But then it’s supposed to be sunny and clear on the weekend, which means the soil is going to warm up pretty quick.

Now, this is our current weekly forecast I just gave you. So I won’t necessarily be able plant out my warm weather crops yet because it’s going to be warm and sunny during the day, but that means clear skies at night, which means I’m going to be having some frost. But the soil temperature will get really warm during the day, which is perfect for planting things that need warmer temperatures to sprout but that can survive a frost, like radishes, beets, etc. I can soak my seeds overnight in warm water and then plant them out late in the morning when the sun is out warming the soil. Then, once I plant them, they’re going to have all day in that nice heated, warm soil and then they will get the frost at night.

If I were to plant during the first half of the week when the weather is supposed to be rainy and cool, those seeds might technically sprout, but I know that they are going to sprout and germinate a lot faster with those warm temperatures. So even though I could get them in the ground maybe four to five days sooner, if I just wait those four to five days longer until the conditions are a little bit more ideal and it’s going to be a little bit warmer out, they’re going to germinate faster and they’re going to actually grow faster so I’ll actually be able to harvest them sooner by just waiting those few extra days because the soil temperature will support better germination and growth.

4. Create warm pockets and microclimates

Finally, for seeds that need to be direct sown in their permanent spot or to get a jumpstart on starting warm weather seeds indoors earlier and then transplanting them out to the garden earlier too, you can create your own warm pockets and microclimates to encourage germination and to keep seedlings warm if you need to transplant them earlier than normal.

You can do this by using a greenhouse or high tunnel or you can use cold frames to create a warm microclimate to start seeds in very early in the season and keep seedlings warm. You can even use plastic milk jugs to start seeds outdoors when it’s still winter! Talk about getting a head start on the growing season!

There are many ways to help get your seeds to germinate faster, and to get an earlier, longer harvest from your plants. Personally, I’m always experimenting with different techniques. I love geeking out in the garden and trying new things, and these are my best germination tips to date.

But what’s even more important than how to grow your own food and techniques for doing it better and faster, are the reasons why you should be growing your own food.

Why grow your own food at home?

There are, of course, many reasons why you might want to grow your own food, not least of which include the many health benefits that come from eating organic, homegrown and homemade food. But another major reason is to save some money and provide some level of food security for your family.

Now, I’m not a doom and gloom type of person. I’m very practical and I tend to see life through a positive lens in which the glass is always half full. But I think we also have to be realistic. And the reality is that food prices are continuing to rise at the grocery store, and in some cases it’s getting harder and harder to afford good, healthy food.

Take, for example, the recent flooding in the midwest. Entire farms were wiped out. Many farmers and homesteaders lost their crops, their grain feed for their animals and even lost their livestock entirely. Hundreds and maybe even thousands of heads of cattle were lost, as well as other livestock. And on top of all that, contamination from the flood waters means that many farmers won’t be able to plant or grow anything in their fields this year.

This all means that food prices are likely to go up even more too. These types of unforeseen, uncontrollable events can impact food prices nationwide and even globally. So that’s just one more reason we should all be growing at least some of our own food at home. It’s also why I am so passionate about raising and growing your own food and why I have a goal to help 10,000 families raise a year’s worth of food by January of 2020.

Of course, I’d love to invite you to be one of these 10,000 families, so if raising a year’s worth of food is a goal of yours too, head over to melissaknorris.com/10000 and sign up for the FREE challenge!

Also, I’m so excited to announce that the doors to the Pioneering Today Academy are now open!

If you’ve never heard of the Pioneering Today Academy, it’s an online membership site where I walk you through everything you might want to know how to do on the homestead in full, detailed video lessons.

Everything from seed starting, winter sowing, crop rotation, companion planting, all of that kind of stuff, as well as canning and preserving, cooking and baking, raising livestock, growing and making your own herbal remedies and so much more. I walk you through it all with step-by-step videos and an accompanying download guide that you can access any time. Then we have challenges with prizes to help inspire you and keep you motivated and committed to actually doing all this stuff!

We haven’t been open for a regular open enrolment since last fall, but enrolment is now open through next Thursday, April 18. Then we will be closing the doors again and I don’t know yet if we will be opening again this year.

So whether you’ve been waiting for the doors to open or you’ve only just heard about the academy, now’s your chance to become a member! But hurry because enrolment’s only open until next April 18, 2019.

Now that you have the best way to germinate seeds and how to germinate seeds faster, what are you growing?

Melissa Norris

Melissa K. Norris inspires people’s faith and pioneer roots with her books, podcast, and blog. Melissa lives with her husband and two children in their own little house in the big woods in the foothills of the North Cascade Mountains. When she’s not wrangling chickens and cattle, you can find her stuffing Mason jars with homegrown food and playing with flour and sugar in the kitchen.

Best Way to Germinate Seeds – How to Germinate Seeds Faster Gardening, Raising Your Own Food Today we’re talking the best way to germinate seeds, including germination tips and how to get your

How to Make Plants Germinate Fast

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The fastest way to germinate seeds depends on the plant species. If your efforts are close but not quite right, the seeds may germinate, but not as quickly as you’d like. Almost all seeds need warmth and moisture to sprout, but whether it’s 60 or 80 degrees Fahrenheit, exposed to light or buried deep in the soil, planted immediately or chilled for three months, each plant’s seeds have specific requirements that must be met for quick germination.

Help the Plant Sprout

Optimum seed germination time is determined by the plant’s genetics, natural habitat and temperature. When starting plants indoors, master gardener Steve Albert recommends planting your seeds in moist seed-starting mix to help prevent damping off, a fungal disease that kills newly emerging seedlings. Use seed-starting trays or biodegradable paper or peat pots. Plant the seeds at the recommended depth on the seed packet or at a depth of two to three times the size of the seeds.

Cover the seed-starting trays or pots with a plastic cover or plastic wrap to keep the mix and seeds evenly moist but not waterlogged. Mist as needed or water from the bottom to keep the mix damp. In addition to moisture, your seeds need to be kept at the right temperature to germinate quickly. A seed-heating mat keeps the seed-starting tray consistently warm.

Whether you start your seeds indoors or in the garden, they germinate faster if they’re within the optimum temperature ranges for the species. Vegetables that prefer cooler temperatures include lettuce (Lactuca sativa), which germinates in two to 10 days when soil temperatures are between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and green peas (Pisum sativum), which germinate in five to seven days at 65 to 75 degrees. The ever-popular tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), grown as an annual, is often started indoors to extend its fruiting season. The seedlings appear in five to seven days when soil temperatures are between 65 and 85 degrees.

Treat to Speed Germination

To speed germination, some seeds need special treatment. When left to their own devices, morning glories (Ipomoea purpurea) germinate in five to 21 days. To speed up the germination process, first nick the hard outer coating with a knife or use an emery board to scuff it up. Then soak the seeds overnight in warm water before planting in full sun. When pre-treated before planting, the seeds germinate in five to seven days if planted in soils ranging from 65 to 85 degrees.

Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), squash (Cucurbita spp.), Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) and other large seeds also benefit from soaking in warm water. You can add a drop of vinegar to the water to increase its effectiveness. Soak the seeds overnight, or up to 12 hours. Alternately, you can put the seeds on a wet paper towel, then into a plastic bag so they can absorb the moisture. Plant immediately after soaking.

The seeds of the apple (Malus domestica), hardy in USDA zones 3 through 9; lavender (Lavandula spp.), hardy in zones 5 through 9; and snapdragon (Antirrhinum spp.), hardy in zones 7 through 10; are among those seeds that need a period of cold temperatures before they germinate. Oregon State University Malheur Experiment Station explains that vernalization, also called stratification, mimics winter temperatures. After chilling, the seeds are stimulated by the warmer temperatures to germinate. Mix the seeds in lightly moistened sand, peat moss or vermiculite in a resealable plastic bag; then label and store them in the refrigerator for two weeks to three months, depending on the species, before planting the seeds.

Give the Seeds Light

Some seeds need to be exposed to light to germinate. In general, these seeds are tiny. In their natural habitat, they are usually spread by falling to the ground from the parent plant’s flowers or decomposing fruits. Perennials like balloon flower (Platycodon grandiflorus), hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 8, and annuals like lettuce and summer savory (Satureja hortensis) are among the species that need light to germinate.

While the seeds need light, consider covering them with a bare sprinkling of vermiculite or coarse sand, so they don’t blow or wash away. Put the seed-starting tray or pots in bright, filtered light, or plant the seeds outdoors in full sun. Mist the seeds regularly with water so they stay evenly moist as they germinate.

Though many plants germinate within a week to 14 days, some take significantly longer. Balloon flowers require 21 to 30 days to germinate at 65 to 70 degrees. Summer savory varies in its germination rate. This heat-tolerant herb may take seven to 14 days or longer before seedlings appear. It germinates fastest when the soil temperatures are between 65 to 70 degrees.

Fire Them Up

Certain tree and flower seeds lay dormant until fire stimulates their germination. One example is the rare Baker’s globe mallow (Iliamna bakeri), also known as Baker’s wild hollyhock. Hardy in USDA zones 6 through 9, this perennial herb is native to southern Oregon and Northern California, where wildfires can sweep through thousands of acres during fire season. The seeds of the West Coast native coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica) also sprout after fires. This evergreen shrub thrives in USDA zones 7 through 9, growing 6 to 8 feet tall. Water weekly through the plant’s first two years until the shrub is established; then stop watering in the summer.

If you obtain fire-stimulated seeds for flowers or shrubs, you don’t have to put the seeds in the fireplace. Instead, bake them in your oven for 2 1/2 hours at 150 degrees Fahrenheit or on the lowest temperature setting.

In an interesting variation on fire and seed germination, technically, it’s the resin that seals the seeds inside the cones of some pine tree species. Fire melts the resin on the “serotinous” cones and releases the seeds for germination. Jack pine (Pinus banksiana) and Table Mountain pine (Pinus pungens), hardy in USDA zones 3 through 8; and lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta), hardy in USDA zones 4 through 8; all produce serotinous cones.

Test Old Seeds

While some gardeners are strong proponents of germinating seeds in a paper towel vs soil, this practice also helps determine if old seeds are viable. The University of Minnesota Extension calls this the “ragdoll method.” Soak a paper towel in water; then squeeze out the excess water. Place several seeds on the center of the paper towel before folding it up into a packet. Slide into a resealable plastic bag and place it in warm location such as the top of the refrigerator.

Check the seeds at the end of the normal germination period as indicated on the seed packet. If the seeds have sprouted, you can carefully pick out the seeds and plant them in moist seed-starting mix. Be careful to avoid damaging the delicate root emerging from the seed coating. You also can determine the germination rate by dividing the germinated seeds by the total number of seeds on the paper towel. A germination rate of less than 75 percent is not good. If planting in the garden, consider buying new seeds.

How to Make Plants Germinate Fast. You can simplify propagation by thinking of seeds as tiny plants trapped inside hard shells, and germination as the key that unlocks them. A seed contains all the basic parts of a plant, including the leaves, referred to as cotyledons, a small root, and just enough food to get …