Germinating seeds is not as easy as it sounds, but with the right approach, anyone can do it, you don’t have to be German! Slugs, snails and slaters, so prevalent at the moment, don’t make it any easier – I spent this morning taking 20 off the seedlings we have growing on the window ledge! How do they get there?!
Here are some general guidelines that may help with germinating seeds:
Storage keep seeds fresh, store in an airtight container, away from sunlight, in a cool place (as in temperature, not stylish, although if you have both, that will be fine). This should keep them for a year or so.
Pre treatments may help. Check what applies for the seeds you have, but soaking in water overnight can work for some seeds, sweet peas and beans for example. Some native seeds like a smoke treatment to replicate what happens in the bush. Others prefer to be pre chilled in the fridge. Check what is right for the seeds you have.
Season.Soil temperature is important to some seeds. Lettuce for example, will not germinate if the soil is above 25 degrees. Check the seed packet or a reliable website for which season to sow your seeds.
Soil that is too dry or wet will also make it hard for the seeds to germinate. Keep the soil damp and use the best quality potting mix you can find – it is worth it.
Light. You need to know what your seedlings want – light or dark. Determine that before sowing.
What depth to plant the seeds? Plant them somewhere between 2 and 3 times their width. Larger seeds may need to be sowed 2.5cm deep or even more. Coriander sized seeds, will only need to be around 6mm deep. Scatter smaller seeds over the soil's surface and barely cover with a thin dusting of compost or seed raising mix. With tiny seeds, sprinkle over the soil's surface and press them in without actually covering with any additional soil at all.
If you plant the seeds too deep they may not be able to make it to the surface. Very tiny seeds, if watered from above could wash down deeper into the soil. These are delicate things and need to be treated carefully.
Pests, well I have already outlined the problems they can cause out of nowhere! Netting can help with this. I should have made a special frame for those, hindsight! I will next time.
Good luck with your seeds, they can provide equal amounts of joy and anguish, as do all things gardening! That’s the challenge and the joy of making it all work.