Soak seeds before planting

Just A Little Bit of Your Time…

This weekend I spent some time, actually very little time, planting seeds in my garden.

I think a lot of individuals get intimidated by the thought of gardening. What if I told you that you can garden in as little as 5 minutes a day, would you try your hand at gardening?

I am here to show you how easy it is to start your own garden.

Setting Yourself Up For Success!

Little space is actually needed to grow your own food! The key is to make sure that your garden is placed in a convenient location.

Is it by water? Is it in a sunny location? Is it close to your kitchen and is it easily accessible?

These are all important factors to consider when setting up your garden.

Here is an incredible free resource to guide you with your gardening journey: The Most Important Resource Any Gardener Could Ever Have!

How Much Space Do You Need?

Consider how much space you will need for your garden. You might be surprised how much you can grow in such a small space.

I am planting my peas in my 4’x4′ square foot garden, but these peas could easily be planted in a container.

You only need your soil to be 6 inches deep, and 12 inches deep if you live in a hotter climate.

Most people think you need at least 12 inches of soil but actually, a lot can grow in only 6 inches of soil and this can save you a lot of money!

Starting Your Garden by Planting Seeds

Buying plants can get expensive. Did you know that there are a number of plants that you can grow in your garden just by planting a few seeds? Here’s how!

The first thing you want to do is read the back of your seed packet. There is a lot of important information on these little packages. Every package is different so be sure to read all the details on each package of seeds.

Make sure you are buying seeds from a good source and seeds that are not genetically modified. Let’s take a look at some important information on my packet of sugar snap peas.

Reading The Back of Your Seed Packets

There is so much information that is useful on the back of a seed packet! Let’s take a look.

The first thing I want to point out on this package of seeds is that it is not recommended to start these seeds indoors. This is important!

They will not transplant well into your garden and quite frankly, sugar snap peas grow super well planted right into your garden with almost no effort!

Temperature Is An Important Factor!

Another important bit of information is when to plant your seeds.

In this case, sugar snap peas are a cool weather crop and can tolerate cooler temperatures. 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost is when to plant your peas.

My average last frost here in Wisconsin is May 15, so I am about 7 weeks out and that is fine because we have had an unusually warm winter and my soil is workable so it is a good time for me to plant.

Do Your Seeds Need To Soak?

Sometimes seeds need to soak. In this case, the pea seeds need to soak 12-24 hours before planting. This is very important.

When you soak your seeds, this helps your seeds to germinate creating a healthy plant.

Some seeds need soaking, like peas and beans, but the majority of seeds do not need to be soaked.

Spacing Your Seeds

I garden using the Square Foot Gardening Method. I find this method to be extremely easy for any garderner…new or advanced. Here you focus on one square foot at a time.

There are several key elements that you will need to figure out how many seeds to plant in a square. You want to look at the thinning and seed spacing (I love this one, it is 2″ (yes 2″)!

That is a lot of seeds for 1 little square foot! So that means you can plant a seed every 2 inches and there are 12 inches per square so that means you will need 6 seeds per row and 6 rows… that is 36 seeds per square foot.

You do not thin peas so you would use the seed spacing to figure out how many seeds to plant. If there are thinning instructions, you would go with that number.

Only Plant What You Need!

In square foot gardening, you only plant what you need, not a whole bunch of seeds and then thin out. This will save you money by using less seeds.

Take a look at the picture below to make sense of what I am saying.

So in that little square, I will have 36 plants and they will thrive in this environment.

How Deep To Plant Your Seeds

The second thing I want to point out is the depth at which to plant the seeds.

It says 1″ deep. That is an important element to factor in when planting your seeds.

If you plant them too deep, they might not sprout. I like to push them slightly down into the dirt with a pencil and then slightly cover them up.

Building Vertical Frames For Your Garden In Under 10 Minutes!

Peas like to climb and be close together. By planting these seeds so closely together, the plants use each other as support to grow up and flourish!

I also put up a vertical frame to help my peas grow upward. This took me less than 10 minutes to put up.

You can view my video on how to do this below.

Step-by-Step Planting Guide

My daughter is going to illustrate how to plant these peas. Simply soak your seeds overnight. They will more than double in size!

Now plant 6 seeds in 6 rows, creating 36 seeds in one square.

Push the seeds in with a pencil 1 inch deep.

Cover the seeds loosely with soil, never push down on the soil! Seeds like light and airy soil.

Now simply water your seeds that you just planted.

That is it! How simple was that? Now water your seeds every few days depending on how hot it is. You don’t want them to dry out completely.

Before you know it your seeds will be growing like this!

That’s it! Pretty simple right? Let me know how it works for you too!

A Great Gardening Resource, Square Foot Gardening

As most of you know, I garden using a Square Foot Gardening method. Today I’ve shown you a little piece of Square Foot Gardening.

If you have the time, be sure to check out this book! There is a lot of great information in this book!

Square Foot Gardening simplifies gardening significantly!

Should you soak your pea seeds before planting? This is a question I get quite often and the answer is yes! If you soak your pea seeds before planting they will germinate days faster!

I’ve had several people ask me if you should soak your pea seeds before planting. I’ve even had readers ask if they should dig up seeds they have already planted and soak them and replant!! In my opinion Soaking pea seeds before your plant, them does help them germinate faster. Before we talk about how to soak your pea seeds before planting let’s talk about the why.

Why you should soak your pea seeds before planting

Peas are one of those seeds that really require a lot of moisture before they will germinate. When planted in the ground pea seeds have to take in water to soften them up and give them that spark to start growing. So the idea behind soaking your pea seeds before planting is to give them a head start. If you soak those pea seeds for 12 hours or so they will already be soft and moist and ready to germinate and start growing right away.

Back in the day when I was taking the Master Gardener course, we talked about soaking pea seeds. It turns out a few studies have been done but most didn’t really come up with an answer. So this is one of those garden myths or wives tales that doesn’t have any scientific backing. But despite that, this is one common garden practice that I feel like really works.

There have been years when only part of my pea seeds were soaked before planting (those years when I ran out of seed and had to go buy more). And I did find that the soaked seeds germinated several days before the un-soaked seeds. This is especially the case when we have a dry spring without much rain.

How to soak your pea seeds before planting

The process is really pretty simple. You just need to cover your pea seeds with water and let them soak for about 12 hours (overnight). I’ve found that 12 hours is the key. Any less and the seeds don’t seem to take enough water.

Put your pea seeds in a small container (some seeds have been treated so don’t use something you might eat from later). Then cover the seeds with about 1/2 inch of water and let them sit.

See the difference! They really do take on a lot of water and swell up nicely. Try not to let them soak for more than 24 hours. You don’t want the seeds sprouting in the water so don’t leave them in the water for more than a day.

Once they have soaked get them right out in the garden and plant them about an inch deep!!

This is a simple practice that I think helps get your pea plants off to a quicker start! Be sure to watch the video about this topic for more info!! And if you would like to learn more about growing peas check out these 3 posts:

Growing peas in the garden (a complete growing guide)

How to Grow Snow Peas

Growing Peas in the Fall

Should You Soak Sweet Pea Seeds Before Planting?

If you’ve grown sweet pea seeds before you will probably have heard that you should soak your seeds. And… you’ve probably also heard that you should not soak your seeds. Soaking sweet pea seeds is supposed to soften the tough outer skin so that the seed can germinate more easily. BUT, some experts will say that soaking will reduce the germination.

  • Half of the sweet pea seeds were soaked and half were left dry.

  • After 12 hours of soaking, the two lots of sweet pea seeds look different.

  • Two seed trays were filled with potting soil.

  • The planting depth of each seed was carefully measured using a pencil as a measuring stick.

  • The sweet pea seeds waiting to be covered with potting soil.

  • The planted seeds were kept at a 63F

  • The sweet pea seeds germinated on Day 3 and were then placed in full light.

It’s conflicting advice and confusing too because I have soaked sweet pea seeds and they have grown. And… I have sown seeds just as they are and they have grown. I find that sweet pea seeds usually have a very high germination rate (if using fresh, good quality seed), but I have never kept a tally of how many seeds have germinated using the soak or no soak methods and I never expected it to be 100% either way.

Finding I had a little extra time this autumn, I thought that I would do a small trial to find out what germination rates I got with soaked and unsoaked seeds. I tried to set this experiment up in as scientifically as possible (yes, I thought back to high school days of sciences class reports comprised of ‘Aim’, ‘Method’ and ‘Conclusion’), but it was just a test carried out in my boot room, so take from it what you will!

I started with a few hundred sweet pea seeds – all freshly harvested this year and of the same cultivar. I then selected 100 seeds that were uniform in shape, size and color and divided them into 2 groups of 50 and placed them in jam jars.

50 seeds were then soaked for 12 hours and 50 seeds were left dry.

Meanwhile I prepared two identical 50 cell seed trays with moistened potting soil.

Planting Depth

Over the many years I have grown sweet peas, I have always thought that one major factor that influences how many baby plants I get is the depth at which the seed I placed in the soil. The general rule of thumb is that a seed should be planted 2 or 3 times as deep as it is wide. However, I have found that sweet peas germinate better for me if planted a little more shallow than that – about a ¼ inch deep seems to work well.

I use a Ticonderoga pencil to make the holes for my sweet pea seed because the rings on the end are conveniently spaced at ¼ inch (remove the eraser to make this work!). Take a ruler and pencil and you will see what I mean.

I followed this rule for this ‘experiment’ and made sure that each seed was covered by no more than ¼ inch of potting soil.

Temperature

The seeds were kept at around 63F simply because that was the ambient temperature of the room they were in. Sweet pea seeds can germinate at lower temperatures, but this was the temperature I had.

Water

Once I planted the seeds, I did not water them again until I saw germination occur i.e. seedlings start to emerge (always exciting, no matter how many times you see it!).

Light

I excluded light until germination occurred using a seed tray turned upside down over the plants cells.

Time

I observed first signs of germination after 3 days, but I waited a full 14 days before counting how many seedlings I had in each of the groups. Once I saw babies emerging (day 3), I placed the trays in full light.

Results

Thank you for reading this far, or did you just skip down the page to the ‘results’ section? Either way, thanks for checking out my post! The unsoaked, fresh, good quality seed won! I got 100% germination rate on the unsoaked seeds! I was surprised at that because (as I mentioned above) I don’t usually expect 100% germination rate in ANY seed I plant.

The soaked seed didn’t do too badly either. Only 3 of the seeds failed to germinate. That means that the soaked seeds had a 94% germination rate. Doesn’t sound too bad hey? And really, for most of us, a 94% germination rate is going to be just fine. If you soak 10 sweet pea seeds to grow in your garden, then you probably won’t notice the one that doesn’t make it.

Worth noting: I only tested one sweet pea cultivar. Sweet pea cultivars will all likely have different rates of germination – the cultivar I tested just happened to have a great germination rate whether or not I soaked the seeds, plus the seeds were fresh and of good quality. You may see different results on different sweet pea cultivars and with seeds that are older etc.

We’ve all heard the age old wisdom that claims that any floating seeds are dead and not worth trying to germinate. This year, after chucking my seeds into water to find a whole lot of floaters I decided to put it to the test.

The Process

Seeing as this blog is all about pepper plants, I’m sure it’s no big surprise that I’m using chilli seeds for the test.

Step One:
All the seeds were put into cups of room temperature water then given a quick stir to help encourage them to sink.

Step Two:

After 30 minutes the seeds were scooped out carefully to keep the floaters and sinkers separate.

The seeds were then laid out on moist paper towels, folded over and placed in labelled ziplock bags. Floaters in one, sinkers in another.

Step Three:

The ziplocks were kept in a warm spot and checked daily for signs of germination.

Step Four:

Germinated seeds were potted up into soil.

The Results

It’s a myth! There was good germination rates from the floating seeds and the sinking seeds across all varieties.

Some of the seeds I chucked in were chipped, broken or discoloured and some of those germinated too.

Conclusion

The float test isn’t a good way to tell if your chilli seeds will germinate. The best way to test for germination that I know of is the paper towel method.

But, maybe the float test works for other types of seeds…

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by Restoration Seeds

Germinating Your Seeds is Fun and Easy. Methods vary by plant type. Seeds of annual plants have a shallow dormancy and do not need a winter to germinate, they only live one season. Annuals generally are buried to a depth equal to the size of the seed in moist well drained soil. Some, like tomatoes and peppers, require warm soil or a heat mat to germinate.

Perennial Seeds Need a Winter

Long-lived perennial plant seeds have mechanisms to prevent germination until conditions are right for successful growing. Perennial seeds go dormant over the winter and then need their dormancy broken in the spring. The techniques below are for perennial seeds only, do not use these techniques on annual or bi-annual vegetable, herb or flower seeds.

In the wild, dormancy is broken by spending time in the ground through the winter so that its hard seed coat is softened by frost and weathering. This cold moist period triggers the seed’s embryo to grow and eventually break though the softened seed coat in its search for the sun and nutrients.

Scarification

Some seeds require scratching or nicking the hard seed coat to allow moisture to enter the seed to begin germination. This mimics natures weathering or the gnawing of rodents. Medium to larger seeds can be nicked with a knife, filed or rubbed with sandpaper. Rub smaller seeds between sandpaper or emery paper. Hobby rock tumblers can be used to scarify larger seed volumes. Abrade only the outer coating, embryos should not be cracked or damaged to remain viable. Commercial nurseries scarify using solutions of sulfuric acid.

Hot water scarification is somewhat easier. Place seeds in an almost boiling pot of water at about 180°F (82°C). Allow the seeds to soak until the water cools to room temperature. Remove the seeds and sow, scarified seeds do not store well. Toss the seeds that float if viable seeds sink for that variety.

Some seeds have a double dormancy requiring both scarification first followed by cold stratification. Others such as Black Cohosh require both warm and cold stratification. See a varieties’ growing instructions for its scarification and stratification requirements.

Cold Stratification

There are six methods of stratification: cold water soaking, refrigeration, fall sowing, winter solstice sowing, outdoor treatment, and snow planting. Time to stratify seeds varies by species, though in most cases storing damp seeds at 39 to 40°F (4 to 5°C) for two to three months is sufficient. Try different methods. Split your seed packet between different methods, start dates or stratification lengths.

Cold Water Soaking

This method works best for medium and larger seeds a few weeks before last frost. You are trying to imitate snowmelt. Place seeds in a small jar and fill with cold water. Viable seeds should sink, although this is not true for all seeds. Many flat seeds or seeds with edges float. Change water daily, your are trying to wash germination inhibitors in the seed. Sow after two weeks. You can also try putting seeds in a small muslin bag and suspending them in the toilet tank. What could be easier, automatic rinsing.

Refrigeration

Wet extra strong paper towel with liquid kelp solution and ring out, fold in half. Liquid kelp is not necessary but it helps germination. Place seeds on half and fold again, press gently between your hands to get seeds in contact with the towel. Place inside plastic bag. Avoid thick walled freezer bags, they do not breath. Label with variety and date. Store in the refrigerator for two to three months depending on the variety. Check for moisture and rotting periodically. If seeds get brown spots and smell musty, they are rotting and should be tossed. Plant after three months whether germinated or not.

The advantage of the paper towel method is that you can see if the seeds are germinating. If germinated, cut paper towel and place on soil, keep moist. You can place seeds in bagged flats in sterile planting medium but the flats or pots take up more room in your refrigerator.

Fall Sowing

Direct sowing in the garden or pots in autumn is the traditional method in Europe. This method naturally exposes perennial seeds to winter conditions. Be sure to stake where you sow, and date. Wood popsicle sticks fade and rot over the winter. Use larger stakes — plastic stakes written with a black Sharpie last the longest. Plant at a depth appropriate for the variety. For seeds requiring light to germinate, just press on the surface.

Winter Solstice Sowing

A variation of autumn sowing is planting later in the winter, starting with the winter solstice on up to February. This method takes full advantage of winter cold and spring heaving and the growing energy of the earth as days lengthen. This works well for hard to start seeds like Good King Henry. We direct sow once in each month from November through March to find the right stratification window. In our zone 7b, mid-December was the proper sowing time to germinate Good King Henry.

Direct sow in place or sow in well drained flats. Do not use soil from your yard, it is usually compacted and hard for the seeds to break through. If necessary, screen soil through 1/4″ or 1/2″ hardware cloth and supplement over half with loamy compost or peat moss. Some cover their flats with plastic with holes or screens to let in snow. Make this a part of your annual winter solstice celebration. You can soak medium to larger seeds overnight to aid germination. For seeds that sink, floating seeds are not viable. Again, this varies by seed type. If seeds do not require light to germinate, sprinkle with dry soil to cover.

The harder your winter the later you can plant. If you have hard winters and it is very cold out, 30°F (0°C), put your seeds in the fridge for two weeks to reduce the shock before sowing outside.

Outdoor Treatment

Anise Hyssop growing through the
paper towel. The roots had already
started growing through the towel in
the bag so we just planted the paper
towel and will separate as they get
established.

This is our preferred method. This method is a variation of the bagged paper towel method but takes advantage of the fluctuating winter and spring temperatures. Instead of putting your bags in the refrigerator, place them outside away from direct light. We put them on the North side of our farmhouse, here in the northern hemisphere. Be sure seeds are protected from rodents. This method generally has a higher germination rate than the steady temp refrigerator method. If you plan to use this method and purchase your seeds after mid-February, you should wait until the following year to germinate them because you need cold late winter temperatures.

Snow Planting

This one is for the kids. After a heavy snow, go outside and broadcast your seeds on the snow where you want them to grow, preferably over a prepared garden bed. Have a snowball fight or toss snow over the seeds so birds do not eat them all. This method works best for varieties that can handle cold but do not require cold stratification such as hardy annuals, biennials or short lived perennials.

Surface Sowing

Keep your surface sown seeds moist until the plants are established. If direct sown seeds dry out in your climate from sun or wind, try covering with a single layer of burlap, light colored cotton sheet or half an inch of loose grass clippings. Remove burlap or sheet after germination. Shading with a window screen or white row cover above them the first season will help prevent drying in hot climates. You can also cover with clear plastic until germination to retain moisture, but be careful not to overheat. As soon as sprouts appear, again remove covering.

Some Need Light

Some seeds require light to germinate, sow these seeds on the surface and gently press into contact with the soil. Seeds requiring light to germinate will be indicated both in the growing instructions and will have a sowing depth of ‘surface’.

Good growing!

  • Seed Germination Theory and Practice (PDF) by Norman C. Deno, 1993-1994.
  • Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth, 2002.
  • Starting From Seed: The Natural Gardener’s Guide to Propagating Plants, Brooklyn Botanical Garden, 2000.
  • Plant Propagation, The American Horticultural Society, 1999.

Propagating Amaryllis Seeds by Floating

Although an exercise in patience, growing Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) bulbs from seed can be advantageous and offers the opportunity to hybridize something new, exciting and different in the world of Amaryllis.

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Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) seeds are not readily available on the market. At best, it is a 3-4 year (often more) commitment to bring an amaryllis seed to full bloom. Therefore, most people acquire this bold and beautiful plant mature and ready to bloom. Blossoms can be as big as 7 inches or more across, and come in a range of gorgeous pastel to brilliant colors. Propagation using cuttage and offsets from an existing mature bulb will result in offspring that look exactly like the parent. Some amaryllis bulbs are rare, hard to find, must be imported, or are prohibitively expensive. Although an exercise in patience, in these instances growing bulbs from seed can be advantageous. Additionally, growing amaryllis from seed offers the opportunity to hybridize something new, exciting and different in the world of amaryllis. Seeds most often are obtained from other amaryllis growers/breeders, gardening groups,social media groups, eBay, or by pollinating and hybridizing your own seeds.
Not all amaryllis can produce seeds. And some may produce seeds that will abort or be sterile. Some seeds are “blanks” — they have the papery black seed coat but no actual seed inside. If you rub the seed between your fingers and feel a small bump, it is likely a “good” seed, with an embryo seed inside. You can also hold the seed up to a bright light to see through the seed coat and check for blanks. Discard any seeds that are blanks.

Some amaryllis, such as Hippeastrum Papilio, are difficult and will rarely breed at all. If you can get Papilio to produce a seed that will actually grow, you are lucky — such seeds are often in demand and can be sold to others.
Seeds form in a 3-sectioned pod.

Sandwiched inside each pod section are black papery-thin seeds. The papery-thin seed coat serves to protect the seed, allows the wind to carry and distribute it to other locations, and nourishes the embryo seed as it germinates and starts to grow. The pod will start out lime green in color, and will plump up larger as the seeds continue to mature. Once the seeds are mature, the pod will turn yellow/brown and start to split open at the seams.

At this point, you can cut the pod off of the stem and dry it out for a few days. Then gently scoop or shake out the seeds and let them air-dry for an additional few days. Amaryllis seeds do not have a very long shelf life, so germinate them as soon as possible. If you need to store them, put them somewhere cool and dry, out of direct light in a sealed container, keeping in mind that the longer you wait, the less viable they will be.
Although seeds can be shallowly planted outdoors directly into soil, they can also be subject to rotting or can be carried away by the wind or animals. “Floating” them in water can often bring better results. To float your seeds, select a clear glass container with a wide opening and fill it with at least an inch of warm water – try to age tap water a day first so the chlorine can dissipate. A clear glass (or plastic) container is best as it allows you to look through the glass so see if the seed has rooted. A drinking glass works well for a few seeds, a pie plate great for larger amounts of seeds,

Spread the seeds out on top of the water – they will float – if a seed sinks, discard it. Set your container somewhere safe, out of direct light, checking them from time to time to make sure the water does not evaporate. After 1-4 weeks (or even longer sometimes for stubborn seeds), viable seeds will produce a single root. Roots are impossible to see from the top of the container as they grow in a straight downward direction, so look through the side or bottom of the glass container to see them. This single root will later swell up into a tiny bulb (bulblet). After the root is about 1/2 inch or longer, you can safely plant it. Or, you can also leave it in the water until it actually produces a green blade-like leaf. Make sure your water level remains high enough to accommodate the growing root.

Seed starting mix is good for planting your new amaryllis offspring, however they do also love some organic matter, so mixing a little compost or other organic matter in can further enhance growth. Mold and mildew can be an issue, so using a sterile soil mix is very beneficial. I either use potting mix straight out of the bag, or heat my planting medium in the oven or microwave to sterilize it first. You can plant your new “flower child” in a pot all by itself, or along with some of its siblings – they actually seem to prefer being a little crowded. Label and date the pot, and make sure it has drainage holes in the bottom – drainage is paramount. Dampen the planting medium, then use a toothpick to make a small hole in the soil for the root to fit into. Settle the root into the hole, and then let the actual seed rest on top of the soil (if you prefer, you can add a very thin layer of potting mix over the top of the seed). Gently water to allow the soil to settle around the root. Planting medium should be kept lightly moist, but never soggy. Watch carefully for damping off. Containers can be placed outdoors during spring and summer but should be brought indoors when the weather cools and frost or freeze is a threat. If you cannot find a brightly lit area indoors during winter months, grow lights work very well. Young amaryllis are slowpokes – they put a lot of energy into converting that first little root into an actual bulb, so be patient.

You may not see that first green sprout for another week or more. And when it finally sprouts, don’t be surprised if your friends ask why you are growing a single blade of grass, because that is exactly what it will look like


Keep your sprout lightly moist, warm and in medium to bright light, if possible for best growing – I never put them in direct sun, as they may get too hot, sunburned, and dry up and die. After a month or two, you can add a bit of fertilizer to the water, or a little granular bulb fertilizer to the soil – keep the fertilizer weak and don’t overdo it though. As it grows, you can start to let the soil dry out a bit between waterings. Again, remain patient. Over the next couple of years you may notice growth spurts – don’t panic if one of the leaves suddenly turns brown and dies – energy is going into forming a bigger leaf, which will soon take its place. During this time, a lot of the action occurs UNDER the soil, as your tiny root grows into a bulblet, and then a full sized bulb. Transplant into a larger container when the bulb gets too large, always keeping in mind that amaryllis likes to be cozy, so not too big of a pot – about 1-2″ of space around the bulb is perfect.
After growing 3 or more years, you may notice ALL the leaves turn brown and die – don’t panic, your amaryllis is going dormant – that is a good sign. It is during dormancy that your bulb creates a flower inside the center of the bulb. It will stay dormant 8-12 weeks, or more. Do not water during dormancy, and place container in a cool, dark spot, such as the basement or cool garage. After 8-12 weeks, you can try to wake it back up with a single, soaking watering. Now is the time to move it to a warmer, brighter location (transitioning to full sun is OK at this point, but try to avoid extremely strong, hot sun) and start watching for either a bud or a leaf to poke up from the middle or side of the bulb. Resume regular watering once you see signs of growth, but save the fertilizer until AFTER flowering. If leaves but no bud and flower appear, go ahead and resume fertilizing – you may need to wait another year or two for your amaryllis to bloom (it will go dormant yearly once cool/dry weather arrives – never allow your amaryllis to remain in a hard frost or freezing weather). If properly cared for, your amaryllis will usually bloom about once a year. Once it does flower, be sure to take lots of pictures to show your friends and be proud of yourself. No matter what it looks like, your firstborn amaryllis “flower child” will be BEAUTIFUL!

Nasturtium Seed – Jewel Mix Flower Seeds

Flower Specifications

Season: Annual

USDA Zones: 3 – 10

Height: 14 – 16 inches

Bloom Season: Mid summer through fall

Bloom Color: Mix

Environment: Full sun

Soil Type: Well-drained, pH 6.1 – 7.8

Deer Resistant: Yes

Planting Directions

Temperature: 65F

Average Germ Time: 7 – 10 days

Light Required: No

Depth: 1/2 inch

Sowing Rate: 1 – 2 seeds per plant or 3 1/2 pounds per 1,000 square feet or 150 pounds per acre

Moisture: Keep seeds moist until germination

Plant Spacing: 8 – 12 inches

Care & Maintenance: Nasturtium

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum Majus Jewel Mix) – Few flowers light up the garden like nasturtiums do! Grow this lovely annual from flower seeds and have blooms from June until first frost. The Jewel mix blossoms are 2 – 3 inches across and come in shades of red, orange and yellow. The leaves are rounded or shaped like a shield and have a central leaf stalk. The leaves, flowers and seeds are edible, with the leaves having a peppery flavor which makes a great addition to your salads. The seeds were actually used as a pepper substitute during WWII, or you can pickle the seeds when they are still green.

Nasturtium vine does best when it is left alone. It will tolerate most any soil type, but prefers not to be fertilized. Over-fertilization will produce lovely foliage, but no flowers. Keep watered, but allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Climbing Nasturtium is used as a companion plant for the vegetable garden. It is said that the peppery-flavored leaves ward off many insects. The plant likes a full sun place in the garden in cooler climates. For the hottest regions, afternoon shade is preferable to plants. Tropaeolum Majus plants will grow anywhere as an annual, but they will only survive as a perennial in frost-free zones.

Plant nasturtium seeds directly outdoors in the spring. The seedlings do not transplant well into the garden when started indoors. Before sowing seeds, soak the flower seeds overnight in warm water. The next day, plant the flower seeds 1/2 inch deep in an area that gets at least 6 hours of direct sun each day. Have the soil worked so that it’s fine and light. The flowers will appear 8 – 12 weeks after being sown from flower seeds.

I want spring to come faster, so I potted up some nasturtium seeds. Before I sowed the seeds I decided to soak them. Soaking seeds can shorten the time they take to sprout.
A long soak doesn’t sound too bad for the gardener either on a winter day. A soak, an aspirin and a tale of an uncle’s gift to a nephew he had not met.
As for aspirin, as part of war reparations in the 1919 Treaty of Versailles following Germany’s surrender after World War I, aspirin (along with heroin) was no longer a registered trademark in France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Aspirin joined a legion of once trademarked names to become a free generic name.
Soak and relax, and for seeds, soak and germinate.
Seeds benefit from a good soak. Soaking seeds before planting speeds up the amount of time it takes for a seed to germinate. In a process called imbition, seeds have to take up water before they will trigger germination. A good rule of thumb is to soak large seeds such as nasturtiums, beans, peas, corn, melons and squash in water for six to no more than 24 hours; then sow immediately. Many small seeds are slow to germinate, and most need to be sown close to the soil surface. To get better luck with even small seeds, try soaking before planting. The tiny seeds of carrots, parsley, beets and spinach can soak for the same six to 24 hours as large seeds. After soaking, carefully strain them, pat the seeds dry for easier handling, and plant them immediately.
In addition to soaking in a nice bath, some very large seeds or seeds with unusually hard coats need scarification before soaking. Scarification is damaging the seed coat so the water can penetrate the seed. The hibiscus and true mallow (Malvaceae), morning glory and moon vine (Convolvulaceae) all benefit from scarification before soaking. You can rub the seed on fine-grain sandpaper, or on larger, hard-coated seeds try chipping the seed coat with a knife. For stubborn seeds, you can crack the seed coat with very gentle hits from a hammer wrapped in a towel.
What to soak? How about an old-fashioned cowpea from Italy. One large seed you can indeed soak before planting is the Italian Black Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) from Seed Savers Exchange. This easy-to-grow family heirloom was brought from Sicily around 1900 by the Santangelo family of Massachusetts. Many use it for a dry winter soup bean.
You can harvest the tender young pods of Italian Black Cowpea to steam them like string beans but accompanied by tomato sauce.
Seeds are pure jet black that grow into semi-vining plants with dark green foliage topped with purple flowers. The pods start out dark purple, fading to just purple on the tips when the seeds are fully expanded. Soak the large seeds for 24 hours before planting them.
Soak your seeds now and plant them immediately in pots or remember to soak them in the spring just before planting. Have a winter soup of Italian Black Cowpeas.
And soak yourself in herbs such as rosemary in a hot tub.

Should You Soak Your Seeds Before Sowing?

Written by The Seed Collection Pty Ltd Date Posted: 21 January 2019

A good gardener likes to reduce uncertainty, and to have plans in place for all potential problems. This is especially true when it comes to germination. Unreliable germinators waste precious time at the start of the growing season, and the seedlings that come through late will always be playing catch up.

So anything that can take the lottery out of germination is to be welcomed. One of the simplest tricks that gardeners have long relied on to improve germination is to pre-soak seeds before sowing them.

But is this traditional technique really necessary? There are arguments for and against, but first it’s useful to look at the thinking behind soaking seeds.

Surviving the Winter

Many seeds have evolved to survive winter in a dormant state before germinating in spring. They’ll need to withstand extremes of cold, wet, or dryness, maybe even passing through an animal at some point along the way. This means they need to be tough.

And it also means they can be reluctant to germinate, with their hard protective shells forming a barrier that the seed embryo needs time to break through. Irregular germination is fine in nature so long as enough seeds make it to produce the next generation. It’s less welcome for a gardener who wants more predictability in their sowing timetable.

Soaking the seeds before sowing is an attempt to overcome this natural reluctance and improve the germination success rate.

Does It Work?

Soaking seeds can certainly speed up germination, and encourage a batch of seeds to germinate at a more uniform pace. However, there’s little evidence that soaking improves overall germination rates for most high-quality seeds.

The soaking tactic streamlines germination in four main ways.

  • The water starts to soften and degrade the tough seed shells, making it easier for the seed embryo to sprout.
  • The increased moisture level signals to the seed that spring has arrived and it’s time to grow.
  • Some seeds, particularly those which develop in fruit, have chemicals which prevent premature germination, and these need leeching away. In nature, spring rains do the job, but soaking is a more reliable and controllable option.
  • Soaking helps to overcome drainage problems with excessively sandy or clay soil, providing stable conditions to get the crucial first stage of germination under way.

Which Seeds to Soak

Soaking isn’t always necessary, and shouldn’t be a knee-jerk reaction. Bear in mind that many modern seeds have been bred for reliable germination, in contrast to wild varieties, and so soaking may do little to improve things.

However, some seeds can certainly benefit from a soak. It can help to break down the thick coats of seeds such as nasturtium and beetroot, or the tough shells of carob or luffa. In general, if a seed is large, tough, and maybe wrinkled or knobbly, then soaking can be a useful option.

Avoid soaking small seeds such as lettuce, radish, and so on. Germination of these species often doesn’t need a lot of help, and wet seeds are much more difficult to handle, leading to over-sowing and waste.

Lastly, tropical native plants like chillies need a long growing season to ripen their fruit. If your local climate is on the edge of viability, and you face an annual race to ripen, soaking can help you squeeze in a few more days or even weeks to help your plants be more productive.

Reasons Against

However, soaking isn’t a silver bullet for germination problems. Soak the wrong seeds for too long and you risk ‘drowning’ them, where they begin to rot and ferment before germination can start.

On a more practical level, soaking adds another layer of complexity to the whole plant-growing process. It’s one more point of failure, and an extra level of work. If you have no compelling reason to soak, don’t do it just because you feel you should.

And a final reason not to soak is that it doesn’t help you tell if a seed is viable or not. An idea has grown up that good seeds will sink while bad ones float, but this can’t be relied on. The only real way to tell if a seed will germinate is to let it happen. Using soaking as a test likely means you’ll throw away lots of perfectly good seed.

But nonetheless, if your sowing regularly suffers from germination difficulties, soaking can make a useful experiment. If you decide to try it, here’s what to do.

Simple Soaking

The basic method is to fill a bowl with moderately hot water from the tap, before adding the seeds and leaving them to soak as the water cools. Don’t use boiling water or you risk cooking the more delicate varieties of seeds.

Deciding on how long to leave the seeds soaking depends on their size and toughness, and is something that you’ll learn with experience. Some tender seeds will need only a couple of hours to begin swelling, while others can safely be left for 12 hours or even longer.

However, aim to under-soak rather than over, as leaving them for too long risks rot setting in. If available check seed packets for any soaking recommendations, and be careful not to overshoot. Regularly examine the seeds, and remove them from the water once they are noticeably swollen or wrinkled, but haven’t yet split.

After the required soaking time, drain the seeds and sow as normal. Don’t hang around: leaving the wet seeds exposed to the air can mean fermentation sets in surprisingly quickly, ruining the seeds. Once the seeds are in the soil, keep it moist until germination, which will hopefully happen sooner than it otherwise would.

Variations on the Method

As a variation on the basic method, some gardeners like to use a mild acid solution for soaking. Simply add a teaspoon or two of vinegar to the water, or use weakly brewed tea or coffee.

The idea behind this is to emulate the acidic conditions of an animal’s digestive system, speeding up the effects on the seed shell. Whether this is worth the trouble is open to debate, but as with all things green-fingered, experiment and experience will help you decide.

And finally, to help particularly tough seeds germinate, you can combine soaking with scarification. This involves making a slight nick in the seed shell, or roughing it up a little with sanding paper. This lets the soaking liquid get to work more quickly, but there’s also the risk of damaging the seed too much and preventing germination happening at all.

To Soak or Not?

For certain slow-germinating seeds, soaking can be a worthwhile exercise. However, a gardener’s life should be kept as simple as possible, and tradition alone is no reason to insist on soaking. If you have no germination problems to deal with, there’s probably no need for the extra work and complexity it creates.

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