Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Germinating Your Seeds

Written by James Fohl

So you are serious about starting your garden. You have all your materials you need, the seeds, soil, fertilizer; pretty much anything a gardener could possibly have, you yourself have. You are ready to begin, but you are worried that you might mess something up. After all, it only takes one little mistake to ruin your entire garden. For that reason, it is always wise to germinate your seeds before you actually place them into soil. Depending on how much you know about gardening, you may know everything there is to know about germinating seeds, or you might know nothing at all. In a nutshell, germinating seeds refers to keeping the seeds in a moistened position until the first signs of a tap root are seen.

Why is germinating seeds important? Well, first off it allows you, the gardener to make sure you received quality seeds. Some seeds for specific plants are expensive, and are very delicate. Such delicate seeds do not usually respond very well if they are just thrown into a small soil patch. Additionally, if you take the time and effort to effectively germinate your seeds before you plant them, you will be saving yourself a lot of time, because seeds generally germinate faster when prepped properly, as opposed to being just thrown into the ground.

Another important reason for germinating seeds before they are being planted is to see which the strongest seeds of a bunch are. Some seeds will germinate within twenty four hours, and produce a long, lively taproot that will emerge into a rather healthy plant. On the other hand, some seeds will take several days to germinate, and by the time they do germinate, their tap root is so small that they may have a short plant life. Then, you also have the seeds that will fail to germinate, and thus do not turn into anything, and if they were planted in soil, would just take up space.

If you only have a limited area in which you are going to be planting a specific type of plant, then it is vital that you do actually go ahead and germinate your seeds. If you only have room for, let's say eight plants, but you have twelve seeds, then you should go ahead and try to germinate all twelve seeds. Once the seeds start to germinate, you can take away the seeds that fail to germinate. If you still have over eight seedlings, then you can plant the seeds in small Jiffy peat pods, and see which seeds sprout the fastest, and which of the germinated seeds look the healthiest. After about a week, you can finally take your top eight seedlings, and plant them in their respective locations, thus you ultimately are starting your garden with the best of the best.

Okay, enough with all the talk on the benefits of germinating seeds. You have probably already decided by the time you reach this sentence if you are going to take the time to germinate your seeds. Now the big question is, how exactly can you germinate seeds?

It is not a big process, and takes very little effort. All you really need is a little plastic container, a couple paper towels, the seeds in which you wish to germinate, and some clean water. I recommend using bottled water, or water that has been left in a container overnight. You will begin by taking the paper towels and folding them a couple of times, creating an envelope of such. Next, take the water and evenly distribute it over the paper towels, taking consideration in getting every part of the paper towels wet. Once the paper towels are completely soaked, pick them up by the corners, and shake them gently in order to get the excess water off. The paper towels need to be very moist, however an excess amount of water is not good for the seeds.

Next, take the seeds and place them in the middle of the paper towels. Wrap the paper towels together, and place them in the plastic container. Seal the plastic container, and place it in a dark place, such as under bed or dresser. Now you have to wait at least twenty four hours before you can check the seeds, otherwise you may interrupt the cycle. Within two days, your seeds should be cracked opened and a small taproot should be visible. Congratulations, you have successfully germinated your seeds!

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