Starting Seeds In A Paper Towel
How To Pre-Start Seeds In A Paper Towel
One problem you often have with saving your own seeds, or saving seeds year to year is germination. Most seeds will easily keep from one season to the next, but the germination rate tends to go down the longer you keep them. Now you have to make the decision if you want to keep them and try to plant them. There is a simple solution. Instead of wasting precious time planting them and trying to get the seeds to sprout in pots or the garden, pre-start them. This is a very simple process and you can do this basically anywhere.
What you are going to need:
- Paper towels
- Sealable plastic bag (1 gallon works best)
Now that you have these materials gathered together it is time to get started.
1. Take several sheets of paper towels. Run them under water to get them moist. Now you are going to want them damp, but not soaking wet. So go ahead and ring them out so there is a little moisture left in them.
2. Spread the paper towels out so that they are double layered.
3. Lay your seeds on half of the paper towel.
4. Fold the towel over top of them.
5. Place the moist paper towels and seeds in the bag and seal it.
6. Now put it in a warm spot where it won’t be disturbed for about a week or more. This depends on the seed types and how long they take to germinate. They don't have to be in the sunlight. I like to keep them on top of my refrigerator.
Seeds getting ready to be put in a plastic bag
That’s all it takes to get started. Check on your seeds after a week or so. If they haven’t sprouted after a week check on them every couple days. Once the seeds sprout you will be able to tell which ones are viable and which ones may have gone bad.
Now you can plant them in seed starting pots and they should emerge from the soil in a short time. This will save you a great deal of time in the long run. This whole process takes about five minutes to do. You can do this with almost any type of seed that you would plant as individual plants. Seeds like beans and peas that are usually planted in rows are not a good candidate for this process. However, peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, and broccoli work great.
You don’t want to leave the seeds in the paper towels to long. If you do the roots will start to grow into the towel. This presents a problem, when you try to remove them the roots can often times be damaged in the process.
The most common problem you will run into with the process is fungal growth. Sometimes if there is a large amount of contaminates on the towels you will start getting mold growth. This can sometimes cause the seeds to rot or infect them after you plant them. I recently had this happen with some calla lily seeds I was growing. They sprouted beautifully. Once I planted them they started falling over from the mold that was on the seed. A solution that I have heard of is to put some hydrogen peroxide or fungicide on the paper towels before you put your seeds in them. I have not tried it yet, but have no doubt that it would help.
Here you can see the mold that has grown on the paper towel. These seeds have been left in there to long and should have been put in soil. These are the calla lily seeds that I started. They took about three weeks to finely germinate.