Sprouting your seeds before you plant them can save you time and money, and help your eco organic garden produce larger crops.
Pre sprouting basically means getting your seeds to sprout in a controlled environment outside of the ground, so that you can plant the successful sprouters.
It’s a truly useful technique to store in your arsenal of vegetable gardening tips and tricks.
When you pre sprout, you can easily determine which seeds are viable. You can sprout old packets of seeds to see if they’ll still grow. Pre sprouted seeds have a higher rate of germination because they are in a controlled environment where they are exposed to fewer challenges. They also sprout faster, so you don’t have to wait as long to plant them. You won’t have to plant two or three seeds in the same hole anymore (one for the bird, one for the worm, and one for me) – you save on seeds and can space your plants with ease. No longer having to thin your plants out also saves you time.
Happily, this sustainable gardening shortcut is very easy. It’s also an exciting natural learning initiative to involve your little ones in: seeing tiny roots appear overnight never loses its fascination (and, let’s face it, neither does getting to use the spray bottle).
You will need:
Containers or bags (old egg cartons or used bakery containers work well as they have lots of compartments)
Spray bottle filled with water
Waterproof labels (you can do some practical recycling with used plastics by cutting them into strips for labels)
A safe, warm area to germinate the seeds.
Here’s how you do it:
Line your containers or bags with several layers of paper towel. Cut the paper towel into smaller blocks if necessary.
Wet the paper towel with the spray bottle. They need to be damp, not dripping: too much water encourages fungus to grow.
Layout your seeds on the damp towel and cover them over with more damp towel.
Place your bags or containers of sprouters in a warm area (they tend to germinate fastest in temperatures between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit). Ideally, it should be a sheltered area where they won’t be explored by curious little hands or get knocked over, and where you won’t forget about them.
Check your seeds every day and moisten them again if necessary. When tiny roots start to show, the seeds are ready to plant.
Transplant the sprouters to prepared seedling trays or garden pots, or straight into your garden beds, by carefully placing them on top of your growing medium, and sprinkling more on top. Be careful not to damage the delicate roots, or the sprouted seed won’t survive. If roots have become twisted up in paper towel, snip out that piece of towel and plant in with the seed.
Take care of your sprouters like any other seed. Before long, you’ll be enjoying a delicious harvest of organically grown food!
Written by Rifke Hill
About the Author
Rifke Hill was raised on the sort of farm your grandparents told tales about – milking cows, gathering eggs, hoeing the soil, and building fires to heat water. She now spends part of her time copywriting online as a freelancer. The rest of it is spent nurturing and teaching her four energetic children, growing vegetables, baking bread, reading voraciously, having coffee with the neighbors, and enjoying the sunny slopes of the smallholding where she lives, in the Garden Route, South Africa.