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get seeds to germinate

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This article was co-authored by Andrew Carberry, MPH. Andrew Carberry has been working in food systems since 2008. He has a Masters in Public Health Nutrition and Public Health Planning and Administration from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

If you’re a gardening enthusiast, you know there’s nothing more thrilling than seeing the first tiny green shoots come up after you’ve planted seeds. To germinate seeds you will need to give them the correct type of soil and make sure they get the right amount of sun or shade, plus regulate the temperature so they don’t get too hot or cold. Read on to learn how to give seeds the right environment to germinate and grow.

There are a few simple tricks you can incorporate into your seed starting process that will help you increase your success rate and avoid seed starting disappointments.

How quickly they do so is often dependent upon whether you’re giving them the optimal conditions.

Tips for How to Germinate Seeds for Seed Starting

But, if you’re starting cool weather seeds in an unheated greenhouse outside in cold weather, or in a basement that’s damp and cold, you might want to think about providing some supplemental heat. (We’ll talk about that below.)

Warning: You must check your germination chamber frequently. Once most of the seeds in a tray or pot have “popped” (broken through the soil with the first leaves) you need to take the plants out of the chamber and put them under the lights.

If the temperature is too cold, pepper and tomato seeds may take up to three weeks or more to germinate. (Happened to me!)

Step 1: Line your container with paper towels. I like several layers of paper towels, so I fold them in half and cut to fit. If you are using plastic bags, fold and cut your paper towels to fit.

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How to Pre-Sprout Seeds

Step 8: Keep your seedlings warm and moist. Use your spray bottle to keep the soil surface moist and continue caring for your seedlings as described from step 5 on in this article: 10 Steps to Starting Seedlings Indoors.

Pre-sprouting lets you germinate the seeds first, and then you can place the sprouted seed with the root into a seedling container to grow. You can see the seed and don’t have to wonder if it is doing anything under the soil. Other advantages of pre-sprouting your seeds include:

Place the sprouted seed on top of your growing medium and cover with dry seedling mix. Mist with your spray bottle and place under your growing lights.