If you're like myself and the plethora of gardeners out there, you've got a big old pile of seeds just itching to break free from their packets! Who's more eager to get them planted in the soil and on their exciting rebirthing adventure, you or them?
Although some seeds are independent and carefree, most of them will need a little bit (or a lot) of guidance, patience, and TCL to set them up for a successful journey to a mature plant. Meaning you just can't put them in any soil you have lying around, leave them be, and expect to get satisfactory results!
We've put together this helpful seed sowing guide, including some fun plant terms, to get your seeds well prepared for their mission and get them growing in the right direction!
** This is a generic guide and is meant to follow for any seeds out there! Some seeds will germinate way better if specific needs are met( especially Bonsai). We have more advanced, seed-specific manuals we can send you if you reach out to us!
The first steps of your seed's growing adventure!
You'll want to prepare and gather these items:
-Water (preferably distilled)
-Bamboo Skewers or toothpicks
-A high-quality Seed Specific Soil (if your kit doesn't come with soil)
- Pots with drainage holes
- Seed Heating mat or grow light: *May be necessary depending on seed variety!
Soaking your seeds:
Now it's bath-time! Your seeds will need to be soaked overnight in warm water. This is to trick them into thinking that they
took a nice long trip through an animal's digestive tract. This is nature's way of breaking down the outer coating of a seed.
-Tear your paper towels into four even sheets about two inches wide by the length of the paper towel
-Dampen the paper towel slightly to create surface tension and help the seeds stay where you place them
-Place the seeds directly in the middle of sheets (no more than five) and fold the paper towel up into about the size of a matchbook.
Once you have your seeds folded up in the paper towel, they're ready to take a nice soak. Place them directly into a bowl with about an inch of the hottest water from your tap. Submerge the paper towel/seeds underwater and then place them in a hot location. Direct sunlight or an insulated mug works excellent to keep the water hot. **Different seeds require different soaking times. For example, vegetables usually require around 12 hours, flowers are less than that, while bonsai tree seeds need at least 24 hour! Reach out to us if you need more in-depth information on each seed type!
Time to Sow!
Carefully unwrap the paper towel from around the seeds. Make sure you do this over a plate or some other surface to fish any adventurous seeds off of. You don't want to lose them and start over again!
These seeds will be pretty small, so it isn't a bad idea to have a set of tweezers around to help maneuver them into the soil. Trying to place them exactly where you want in the soil can definitely test one's patience. You want them to be in a triangle pattern toward the middle of the pot. Create your little divots with either the end of the tweezers or even the bamboo skewer. This skewer will be an integral part of your seed-growing success later on, so hold on to it!
The little divots should be shallow and no more than a tiny scratch in the soil. Many first-time seed growers make the mistake of planting too deeply. That's okay, we've got your back! Make sure those seeds don't go more than about 1/8" (approximately the width of the "o" on your computer keyboard.). Again, a slight scraping of the soil will suffice to create its new home, don't plant too deep!
As soon as those little guys are placed in the soil, scratch that tiny bit of soil over them and water them in good using a showering method. It's important to mimic a light rain effect and not a displacing stream of water. You want to make sure that the whole soil system is drenched. If you water heavier than a sprinkle, it can cause the seeds to dislodge and get buried too deep!
Time, Patience, and Temperature:
After watering it in, place the pots in the house's warmest area with bright light. I've found that sometimes a dining room table or on top of a kitchen bar works well because you see it often and are reminded to check on them often.
Now it's time to wait! Check the back of each seed packet for each seed type's germination time (the time it takes to sprout) and the soil temperature it requires as they will vary! This is very important for the success of the seed. Peppers, for example, does best at 80 degrees, while Lavender like be 70! If you don't think you can keep the seeds warm enough, a seed heating mat will help bunches!
Brazilian Rosewood on heating mat, by GR grower Ashley L.
Care after planting:
Consistent hydration of the soil is crucial for seed sprouting success. Use that bamboo skewer (or toothpick) to check on your soil twice a day to gauge the soil system's core hydration.
Our Toothpick Trick:
Simply poke the soil to the middle or bottom and extract the pick. If you can pull the stick out without dirt sticking to it, it's time to water deeply. Try to add about a quarter of the volume of soil in water. For our little planting bags( or small starter pots), that should be about 1/8 of a cup of water. If you can pull the stick out and a little bit of soil sticks to the pick, but the surface is visibly dry, give the topsoil a quick couple of spritzes from a mister or spray bottle. If you pull the stick out and soil sticks to it and it appears damp, leave them alone. Check again in the evening, but avoid evening watering. Watering at night can lead to mold.
Once your sprouts are a few inches tall, they will be about ready to take a permanent vacation to a larger pot. You can read all about when and how to transplant here.
Nerdy Plant Terms Just For Fun!
In addition to learning how to properly prepare your seeds for sowing, we've also included some fun and brainy plant terms for those of you that love to learn and want to expand your knowledge of the growing world!
Radicle - Totally as awesome as it sounds - this is the technical term for the central taproot that erupts from seeds and adventures downwards, searching for hydration and sustenance for the emerging sprout. Pretty radical, this radicle is, huh?
Stomata - Like your armpits sweat, plants sweat through their stomata. From the Greek word for mouth, the stomata opens and breathes out extra hydration in the form of water vapor or excess gases. These microscopic pores can open and close depending on a plant's needs.
Cotyledon - That first, oddly-shaped leaves that pop out of your seed that sometimes look nothing like their mother plant, those or cotyledons. These leaves have a big job to provide plenty of surface area for photosynthesis to occur and, in turn, allows the plant to mature.
Tomato Cotyledon, by GR grower Blair PT.
Filament - Much like the filament in a light bulb, the filament makes magic happening by transporting vital life sources to the anthers, where pollen is produced. The filament acts almost like a flag pole to hoist pollen into the air, allowing it easy to access.
Micropyle - This tiny area of a seed is where the root system will eventually pop out. Before the roots pop out, it works as a sort of an exchange station, allowing water in for the growing embryo to develop and also allows fumes to evacuate that occur during the development process.
We hope you feel much better about starting your seed sowing adventure after reading this! If you have questions about anything in this article or anything else related to our garden kits, please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or send us a message through Facebook or Instagram!
Let the seed sowing adventures begin!
** As mentioned at the start of this article, this is a generic seed sowing guide. If you have one of our kits and would like more in-depth seed-specific sowing and soaking instructions info, please email us! We have advanced sowing/soaking tips for almost all of the seed varieties available!