Germinating seed

What is the best way to germinate seeds? I’ve been successful at just putting them directly into the soil, but my friend was telling me that I should try putting them between two wet paper towels, keeping them wet until they sprout. He says that this way I would know which ones are sprouting before I plant them.
I’ve also heard that soaking them in a cup of water with a teaspoon of bleach added for one hour before planting was also a good method of starting seed. What do you think?

High Springs, Florida

I think the best way to germinate seeds is to place them directly in the planting medium. This way the sprouts can adjust immediately to the medium. The seeds should be placed between a quarter-inch to a half-inch deep in pasteurized soil or in a planting mix. The sprouts are less likely to become infected in these clean mediums. Once the seeds are planted, place a dome or a piece of plastic wrap over the space so the medium doesn’t dry out between irrigation. Keep the medium at room temperature, 72? F (22? C). The seeds should germinate within a week. Remove the plastic covering as soon as the sprouts emerge.

Obviously, many people like to germinate the seed in paper or cloth towels. The technique works. The seeds are placed between moistened paper towels and then placed on a dish covered with plastic wrap or in a covered dish. The seeds are kept at room temperature. As soon as they start emerging from their shells they are placed in the planting medium, which is kept well moistened. The sprouts soon appear. This method is efficient since only sprouts that are emerging are planted. My problem with it is that the sprouts are best planted within hours after emerging, which may be inconvenient, and if the sprouts have emerged so that the root is sticking out a bit, one must be very careful so that it doesn’t get damaged while it is
being planted.

Soaking the seed in a cup of water with a teaspoonful of bleach or a quarter teaspoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide for a few hours sterilizes the shell so that any pathogens are killed. At the same time the shell absorbs some of the water, forming a protective barrier.

To protect the newly emerging sprout from drop off or stem rot, which are most likely to occur during germination, add one teaspoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide per quart of water to the irrigation solution during the first week.

If the planting mix is fortified with nutrients it will not need fertilization for the first two weeks or longer. However, if the mix has no nutrients, or if rockwool, Oasis or Jiffy Cubes are used, irrigate the first time with half-strength flowering formula fertilizer. The next time, use half-strength vegetative formula for the next two weeks. Once the plants are past the seedling stage and into vegetative growth, use full-strength formula.

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