Have you ever heard of presprouting your seeds? This is a method we use to test viability of old seeds (just do this process with 10 seeds and you’ll know approximately what the germination rate is) and also to help speed up germination. We especially like to presprout our sweet peas and bells of ireland! There is a long-running debate about whether sweet peas benefit from soaking/nicking to help them germinate. We did side-by-side tests last year that proved soaking or nicking the seeds before planting did nothing to help peas germinate!
What we DO find helps immensely though, is to pre-sprout. Not only does this help them germinate faster (by about 5 days) it means we aren’t planting seeds that aren’t viable and will never germinate! Swipe over to see the visual of the steps! 1️⃣ dampen a paper towel 2️⃣ place your seeds on the damp towel and fold it up like an envelope so they won’t fall out 3️⃣ put the paper towel in a ziplock bag labeled with the variety 4️⃣ put the seeds in either a dark or light place depending on whether the seeds need light or dark to germinate 5️⃣ check on them daily and watch for sprouts! Once they sprout, immediately plant them into damp soil and get them into bright light for healthy growth.
As we have completely eliminated peat from our seed starting and growing (see more about that in this post), we had to seek out an alternative (previously we were using the Vermont Compost Company's Fort Vee mix to soil block). This led us to develop a couple of peat-free soil blocking recipes.
Hey, farmer/gardener/soil curator! Been looking for an inexpensive way to increase the level of beneficial microbes, slow release nitrogen and minerals? Have you heard of mesophyllic fertilizer? No? Neither had we, until we stumbled across this recipe...