Seed germination is one of those processes that continues to be a small wonder of nature no matter how many times we witness it. It is something very simple, but which in turn depends on several factors and, therefore, can be affected in many ways.
If you want to learn how to germinate a seed at home, be it tomato, lentil, broad bean, etc., and achieve it in the fastest and most effective way possible, keep reading this practical and interesting article.
What does it take to germinate a seed
Before going on to talk about how to germinate seeds at home, it must be clarified that there are a few general conditions to take into account for the seeds to germinate. This is what you need to germinate a seed :
Some seeds can be planted at practically any time of the year, especially if we do it indoors, but others, on the other hand, cannot be planted at any time. Pay attention to the plant species you are going to grow and its optimal planting time. Look for information on the Internet, books or ask directly the professional of the place where you buy the seeds and materials to work with the plants.
This is especially important in outdoor plants or areas exposed to the local climate: you do not want your seeds not to germinate, or worse still, that they do so and die shortly after due to excessive cold or heat.
The vast majority of seeds can be germinated without problems with a small seedbed or even a simple jar. However, there are seeds that produce a kind of gel or mucus when germinating: they are called mucilaginous. This mucilage retains a lot of moisture and, if the seed is not adequately aerated, it will cause them to rot. Some examples of slimy seeds are basil, mustard, arugula, and chia.
To germinate this type of seeds we will need germinators, which we can make ourselves or acquire.
Container or substrate
Germinating seeds in a germinator or pot, as well as in a seedbed , is very simple. But in these last cases, the mixture of substrate that we use will be vital. Again, it depends on each type of seed, but we can recommend a mix that will work excellently in the vast majority of cases.
To prepare it, mix a part of coconut fiber , another part of worm castings and a last part of peat. Mix them until you get a homogeneous substrate, which will be light and very rich in nutrients. Then, sprinkle on some vermiculite and perlite to finish optimizing their properties.
If you are going to germinate the seeds in a jar, choose a glass jar of adequate size that allows you to see the state of the seeds, as in the image below.
Irrigation and humidity
Seeds usually need abundant moisture to germinate. However, an excess of this will be as fatal as drought, since the seeds can rot or be attacked by fungi. It is necessary that you control the humidity levels in your seedbeds, jars or pots and that you do not let them get waterlogged.
How to germinate a seed on a napkin
This is one of the simplest methods of germinating seeds, but it is no less effective for that. Follow these steps to germinate seeds with a napkin :
- A jar or container.
- Absorbent napkins.
Steps to germinate seeds on a napkin
- Prepare the container with the napkins in the bottom of it, forming a double layer, and sprinkle the seeds on them.
- Prepare another napkin, moisten it, and put it on the seeds, covering them, and then roll the seeds in the napkins forming a cylinder.
- Place the container in a dark room with a temperature of around 20ºC. Close it partially but not completely so that the air can circulate a little.
- Check the condition of the seeds often, moisten the napkins again when they dry and remove the seeds that are germinating to take them to their location in the soil or pot.
How to germinate a seed in cotton
This process is very similar to the previous one, but we will use cotton instead of absorbent paper or napkins. Follow these instructions to germinate a seed with cottons :
- A container, if possible wide, such as a tupper or a large yogurt container.
- Clean cotton.
Steps to germinate seeds in cotton
- Start by flattening the cotton pieces into rough sheet shapes and cover the bottom of the container with it, then moistening the cotton with a water spray. It is important that it is well humid, but never waterlogged. Remove the excess water from the base of the container.
- Place the seeds on the cotton, pressing a little with your fingers so that they settle and “bury” a little in it. Then cover them with another piece of moistened cotton.
- Then cover the container so that the humidity does not evaporate very quickly, and take it to a bright place, but where the light does not fall directly on the seeds, at about 20 ºC.
- Every 48 hours, open the lid and remove the top pieces of cotton to check the seeds and let them air out for about five minutes. Cover them again later, moisten them again if necessary and remove any sprouts that can be planted.
How long does a seed take to germinate?
The time it takes for a seed to germinate depends both on the plant species and on specific conditions such as climate or humidity. Some seeds germinate in as little as 24 hours , while others may take up to 15 days or more to germinate .
Check the usual germination times of the plant species in question to know how its germination process is going and see if yours is going well or if you need to change some aspects of humidity, light and temperature.
How to make the seeds grow faster
The methods explained above with cotton and napkins help to greatly accelerate the germination of the seeds , allowing them to be planted later in their final location knowing that the sprouts will develop well.
Also, there are other things you can do, like using fast germinating seeds for kids . These are ideal for the little ones to learn more about plants and start to like gardening. Some species of these seeds are those of lettuce, broccoli or cauliflower, with a really accelerated germination. There are also dandelions and daisies, smaller and very striking when they grow, or beans and tomatoes.