Spring is in full bloom and many people are beginning to plant their vegetable gardens. Planting seeds indoors or out can be the cheapest way to start a vegetable garden. Did you know that soaking seeds before planting can provide a higher germination rate?
Why You Should be Soaking Your Seeds Before Planting and How To Do It the Right Way
Vegetable gardening can be intimidating, and when starting from seed, you’re never sure how many seedlings will germinate. Soaking seeds in warm water before planting can increase germination rates by helping to remove the natural defenses of the seeds.
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Why Soak Your Seeds?
Seeds have everything needed to grow into a plant as long as they receive nutrients from the soil, water, and sunlight. However, they also must break out of the hard shell in which they are encased. Soaking your seeds in warm water helps to soften the shell, allowing the germination process to happen easier.
Soaking your seeds provides an additional benefit. Seeds can be “guarded” with inhibitors, which prevent seeds from germinating inside of the fruit. Allowing the seeds to soak helps wash your seeds of this inhibitor, speeding up the germination process.
In addition, seeds can detect when it’s time to germinate based on the temperature and moisture level of the surrounding environment. Soaking the seeds creates the moisture level necessary for germination, and the warmth of the water sends a signal to the seed that it’s time to grow.
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The Best Seeds to Soak
What seeds benefit the most from soaking? Seeds that have hard shells and are on the larger side. Think of seeds that are big or wrinkly. Some of the best candidates for seed soaking are: pumpkin, squash, beans, peas, corn, cucumbers, sunflowers and beets.
Not all seeds benefit from being soaked. Consider any tiny seed as a poor candidate for soaking.
It’s best not to soak seeds such as: carrots, lettuce, turnips or radishes. Although you can soak these seeds, small, wet seeds are difficult to handle and tend to stick together.
Related: Planning a Spring Vegetable Garden
How Do You Soak Your Seeds?
Soaking seeds is about as easy as it sounds. Place your seeds in a shallow bowl and pour in warm tap water. Cover them enough to be submerged. Many seeds will expand when soaked so be sure there is enough room and water for your seeds to double in size.
The water should be warm, around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Some seeds can take hotter temperatures, and some need cooler. Be sure to research each seed before soaking.
Once you have placed your seeds in the water, allow them to soak for 8 and 24 hours (depending on the seed). Do not remove before them, even after the water has cooled. However, be careful, allowing seeds to sit in water for longer than 24 hours can lead to your seeds rotting.
Planting Your Soaked Seeds
Soaked seeds need to be planted immediately. One of the best ways to soak seeds is to put them in water the night before and plant first thing in the morning. Seeds tend to clump when they have been soaked, be sure to separate them and plant normally, with proper spacing and depth, as you would dry seeds.
When planting, be sure that the soil is moist, but not too wet. Moist soil will help keep the shell of the seed soft for faster germination. Keep a lookout at the weather forecast, as you don’t want to plant water-soaked seeds on a rainy day. Too much water can be harmful.
Some Final Tips Successfully Soaking Seeds
Seed soaking is particularly helpful when soil is dry, as it takes longer for seeds to germinate. If your soil is wet and temperatures are cool, seed soaking may not be necessary.
This method will work better for some seeds than it does for others. The age of the seeds, the type of plant, and the growing conditions will all affect germination. However, I have found that seed soaking before planting definitely helps lead to faster germination time and a higher germination rate.
INTERESTED IN MORE GARDENING TIPS: You may also like Fast Growing Vegetables to Start Today. And be sure to check out how to make your own Simple DIY Raised Garden Beds!
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