When it comes to seed-starting success, many gardeners swear by the process of pre-sprouting.
* To do this, moisten a sheet of a cushy white paper towel or a large paper coffee filter so it’s wet but not dripping.
* Sprinkle seeds over half the towel (without crowding them) then fold the other half over them and fold again until it fits into a plastic sandwich baggie.
* Pat the little package so the seeds make good contact with the towel.
* Label the bag and, leaving it loosely open, set it in a warm spot (21°C). Some seeds prefer cool temperatures so check the packet instructions.
* Inspect the seeds daily and make sure the towel stays moist.
* The emergence of the first little root, called the radicle, may take anywhere from two days to two weeks. When you see the radicle, pick up the seeds with your fingers or the tip of a cheese knife or potato peeler and transplant into scrupulously clean plastic containers filled with moist potting soil or soilless mix (or directly outdoors if conditions are suitable). Be careful not to break the root or the seed will die.
* Set the pots under lights and proceed as for seeds sown directly in containers.
The benefits of pre-sprouting
- It saves space.
- It’s easy to see which seeds have sprouted and you can transplant only those.
- It eliminates the chore of thinning out seedlings.
- It often results in a higher rate of germination and also hastens the process, meaning bigger plants sooner.
Some seeds to pre-sprout