Seed Starting Basics
You may think starting seeds involves putting them in the ground amongst a seed starting mix. Mixes usually involve compost, topsoil and sometimes leaf litter. However you may not be lucky to have access to all these ingredients let alone a sufficient area. Fortunately there are a variety of ways you can start your seeds without any soil, compost or leaf litter and can be done in the comfort of your own home.
Firstly - what is seed germination?
Germination is the first stage of plant growth when you’re starting from seed. During this stage the seed absorbs water through its exterior coat. This is it’s trigger to start waking up from dormancy. As the seed takes in water it starts getting bigger and producing proteins that ramp up metabolic activity. A seed carries all the nutrients it requires for the first few weeks of growth. It is these nutrients that the proteins feed on to provide energy. The seed grows and the first stage of the root emerges. Finally it’s first few seedling leaves emerge and photosynthesis can begin. It is at this stage that you can say you have successfully germinated your seed.
There are a few factors that are critical for seed germination success. This varies depending on plant species but generally includes water, warmth and soil depth. It helps to know the specific requirements for the plants you’re looking to germinate to increase success. Fall too far outside the requirements and you’ll either get no seeds germinating or only a few.
Water is the first and most important factor and without it seeds will stay dormant However too much water and seeds will rot. Our germination kits include coco coir seed starting pellets. Their unique properties absorb and hold water yet never become supersaturated.
Warmth is another critical factor. There are a wide variety of temperature requirements depending on seed type which can be found on the back of each of our packets. We encourage you to use our windowsill greenhouses placed in a bright and warm area of your house away from direct sunlight. This creates a great temperature for germination.
Soil depth also varies depending on the seed size. The seed has a set amount of energy stored and if it uses it all up before it’s seedling leaves reach the surface and have access to light, the seed will fail. Generally the larger the seed the deeper it can be planted. Planting depths can also be found on the back of our packets. We also include a seed label with every germination kit that has a super handy depth gauge.
There are a few different methods for germinating seeds not in soil. Here are our 2 favourite ones.
1. Paper Towel germination
- Paper towel
- Air tight container or snap lock plastic bag
- Place the paper towel at the bottom of the container or plastic bag.
- Slowly wet the towel until it is thoroughly moist but not so much that it is dripping water or pooling.
- Sprinkle your chosen seed on the damp paper towel, close the container or bag and make a note to yourself of what type of seed you just planted.
- Place the container or bag in a bright and warm area of your house but away from direct sunlight. This is important as closed containers can get super hot, killing all the germinating seeds from the heat.
- Start checking on them the next day. Some seeds will germinate in as little as 1 day! The slowest take around 5 with the rest taking around 3.
- If the paper towel starts to dry out, dampen them again with a small amount of water. A spray bottle is sometimes good for this.
- Once the first stage of the root emerges you will need to transfer them to a growing medium.
2. ample germination
You will need:
- An ample Germination Kit
- All our kits contain everything you need along with a step by step guide.
- If you need any more help you can visit our FAQ page or watch our set up guide!
Don’t forget to share your progress and tag us @growample!