We are convinced that nothing is more fun and rewarding than growing your own plants from seed! Follow the steps below to successfully germinate your seeds in no time. If you want to know more about any of the components used in the steps below, or how to set up your seed germination area, our previous entry on Seed Germination Basics contains lots of information.
- Prepare your space and have the following at hand:
- Large bowl / small bucket
- Germination tray(s)
- Germination / grow block
- Vermiculite (medium size)
- Labels & marker pen
- Wash and sterilise your hands
- Place the grow block inside a big bowl or small bucket and add 2.5L water. One grow block will expand to fill two 48-cell seed trays. Only expand the blocks that you plan on using that day.
- While the grow block expands, use a pencil to write the sowing date, names and colours of the different seeds you are planning on sowing on the wooden markers.
- Now break up the grow block into a fine mix. The mix should be saturated, but not dripping wet or sitting in a pool of water. If needed, drain off excess water.
- Now fill the required number of trays. You can fill each of the cells up to the top, but do not compress the grow mix into the cells.
- If the seeds you are going to sow are large, then use the tip of your finger to make a slight indentation into the soil in the middle of each of the cells.
- Place 1 seed on top of the grow mix in the middle of each cell.
- Now, if your seeds require darkness to germinate, cover all the cells with more grow mix (about 0.5 cm thick layer) and if your seeds require light to germinate, lightly cover each cell with vermiculite.
- Using the sprayer head (set to a very light spray setting) and from a distance of at least 30cm above the tray, very briefly water the top layer. Upon contact with the water, the vermiculite should settle into the cells and become slightly darker in color.
- Don’t forget to insert the label(s) into the cells. Unless you only plan to sow one tray and one variety, don’t even think you will remember what you have sown where, because you won’t 🙂
- All that’s left is to place your newly sown tray in a warmish spot that receives enough light. It is very important that the top layer does not dry out (seeds will not germinate properly), so depending on the weather, lightly spraying every day or every second day should be sufficient to ensure the top layer stays moist (but not overly wet).
- Don’t forget to check up on them daily. But we suspect you won’t need any reminding and will check every couple of hours for signs of life!
- If kept at the recommended temperature, your seeds should germinate within the noted window period, but don’t despair if it takes a couple of days longer. If you are still not having any luck after that, try to increase the temperature a bit (be careful to not let them dry out).
Before sowing your seeds directly in the beds, ensure that you have already prepared your growing space by doing the following:
- Removed all existing weeds, roots and stones
- Increased the root growing space and aerated the soil
- Worked some compost into the bed and smoothed the surface
- Watered it properly
The steps above are all part of creating a raised bed – a very easy and essential technique to ensure your seedlings have the correct growing environment to thrive! Be sure to check out our step-by-step video guide on making a raised bed.
Now for the direct sowing procedure:
- For seeds that require light for germination, push only half of the seed into the soil so that a part of it sticks out of the soil and light can reach it. If darkness is required, depending on the size of the seed, either make a small hole with your finger and put the seed inside the hole and cover completely with soil, or push the seed into the soil (in general, the size of the seed determines how deep it must be planted. If the seed is small, do not make a hole, but only push the seed into the soil and cover lightly with more soil. If a very small seed is buried too deeply, it may not have enough growing power to reach the surface of the soil.
- Insert labels where your seeds have been sown.
- Using the sprayer head (light spray setting), gently but sufficiently water the newly sown bed. It is important that the bed is consistently kept moist until the seeds germinate, so do check on them daily and water when needed.
- Since you will probably have less control over temperature in the garden, it might take slightly longer for your seed to germinate, but don’t despair. If you are able to, you can cover them at night to provide some protection against the cold.
While your seeds are now properly geared up for germination, why not have a look at our Seedling Care guide so that you can welcome them prepared and with open arms when they rear their little heads from out the soil. Beware, they grow up faster than you’d think!