Most plants in a vegetable or flower garden are started from seeds. When you buy seeds in packets, these are usually pre-treated and selected to give gardeners only the best seeds that will grow into better plants and produce good fruits and flowers. These seeds are normally dried to prevent fungal growth while in storage and to extend their shelf life. The seeds therefore cannot be planted straight from the packet into the soil. You have to give them a pre-treatment to help them to germinate. Here are the steps on how to soak seeds before planting.
- As the seeds soak, the water will penetrate the hull and nourish the germ that is essential in making the plant grow. Soaking them in water fools the seeds into thinking that they have been planted for a long time. The amount of water that the seeds take up while soaking is almost the same amount they will get when they have been directly planted in the soil and have been watered daily for a week. Water hastens the germination of the seeds and gives the seeds a head start to sprout the first two leaves.
- Place the seeds first in a dry container and check them. If the seeds are large, pick each one and press them between your fingers to check if they are dry and firm. Throw away those that split, are wrinkled or appear lightweight. Remove other debris that may have come with the seeds.
- Place the seeds in a large container like a basin or a pail and cover the seeds with about three inches of warm water. Allow the seeds to soak overnight in a cool dark location.
- If the seeds have extra thick hull and quite large, you can help the seeds along to easily take up water by nicking one end with a nail file or an emery board just so the water can penetrate easier.
- Check the seeds the next day and discard the hulls that may have been removed from the overnight soaking. Inspect the seeds to see if they have already doubled in size. If that is not the case, add more warm water and leave the seeds to soak for another twelve hours. This will depend on the thickness of the hull and how dry the seeds are before you soaked them.
- Drain the water from the container and check the seeds again. If the seeds feel soft that means that they have taken up enough water and can already be planted directly into the soil. Follow the directions on the packet on how deep and far apart each seed should be sown into the soil.
- If you are soaking very small seeds it can be a problem to remove them from the water. One way to remedy this is to place the small seeds into a fine sieve and immersing the sieve into the water. Add a weight on top of the sieve so that it will remain submerged. This will effectively soak the small seeds without too much problem.
- Some plants like the mung bean can be soaked and started on wet paper towels. Wash the mung beans in lukewarm water and soak them overnight in warn water. Wash the soaked seeds again in the morning. Place several layers of paper towel in a deep tray. Wet the towels and sprinkle the soaked mung beans over it. Place the tray on a dark location where it will not be disturbed. In three to five days you will be able to harvest your own home-grown batch of bean sprouts.
Use only choice seeds to ensure that you will have good plants that will give you a bountiful crop. Take note of the best seed supplier so that you will be able to get constant good crops. Go organic by not harvesting some of the fruits and allowing them to mature so you can gather the seeds later. Dry them naturally and store them in airtight containers properly labeled.