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germination guide

For new gardeners, the first step of growing a beautiful and productive garden may seem to be the most difficult. How to start plants from seeds? In actuality, the germination of vegetable seeds is the most straightforward part of growing a garden. You just need to understand what seeds need and the correct tools to do it with. Gardening is a noble, intellectual, and passionate pursuit that anyone can do, and it all starts from an ordinary, humble seed.

Remember, all seeds have the same simple mission; to break dormancy, put down a simple root (radicle) and send up their seed leaves (cotyledons). This is all a seed can do with the energy it has stored. The rest is up to you, the gardener, to make the new seedlings happy, continue to grow, and thrive. Manifestations of “bad seed” are poor or no germination. Under proper conditions, if the seed germinated…it was not a bad seed. Rest assured seed companies thoroughly and continually test their seed lots for germination. We try to maintain seed lots that will test higher than national standards allow. This means we are shipping some of the healthiest, freshest, and most viable seeds available.

What is a seed?

Proper oxygen seems straightforward, but if the air is not present in your soil mix, seeds will fail to germinate due to suffocation. The most common cause of seed germination failure is a lack of oxygen from the starting mix being kept too wet. Potting soil is not an appropriate media for starting seeds, it is too dense and holds too much moisture. It is meant for use with transplants that already have a strong established root system. Always use fresh, sterile Seed Starting Mix for the best success.

The most optimum temperature for seed germination is in the middle of this range. Tools needed to achieve proper soil temperatures are simple but necessary. Use a soil thermometer and employ use of a good Seedling Heat Mat, for seed germination success.

If a plant becomes infected with a disease, or the plant produces inadequate to no fruit, this has nothing to do with the seed. Failures of fruit production like the size, quantity, or quality of the fruit, relates to care and the environment a plant is growing in, not the seed itself.

If you don’t like the idea of pre-soaking your soil, you can use a spray to moisten the holes before you plant each seed. With enough moisture surrounding your seeds, you can still encourage a root to develop.

The Royal Queen Seeds Feminized Starter Kit contains:

To avoid disappointment, seeds that have a darker colouration stand a better chance of germinating, while pale green or white seeds are likely to fail. Even if dark seeds look slightly damaged, they should be planted anyway. There is a good chance they will still germinate, even if the outer shell is somewhat crushed.

WET KITCHEN TOWEL METHOD

Two or three weeks after germination, your young seedlings should be ready for their new home. At this point you have two options; transplanting them into soil pots, or taking on the challenge of hydroponics. You’ll know when the seedlings are ready to be moved because the root system should start to poke out of the bottom of the wool blocks. As long as the roots haven’t begun to engulf the bottom half of the wool block, they will seek out water and nutrients in their new surroundings and continue to grow downwards.

The soil pots will need small holes (roughly 10–15mm deep) for the newly germinated seeds to be placed into. Once the seeds are secure, you will want to place a fluorescent light 13–15cm (5–6 inches) away to encourage growth. Finally, don’t risk overwatering your seeds at this early stage. Use a plant mister to make sure they stay damp but not soaking wet.

You will need to invest in a few pieces of unique equipment, but by using stone wool blocks, you can create a perfect utopia for germinating cannabis seeds. Soak the stone wool blocks in the same way you would a soil medium. The wool will retain the moisture and prevent the need to water during the early stages of germination. After the wool blocks are soaked, stick them in a plastic tray that also has a lid. Large cake tubs are ideal.

Maintaining the ideal temperature (between 22–25°C/71–77°F) and moisture for germination is tricky. Leaving seeds out in the open environment or on a windowsill is far from ideal; a DIY climate-controlled cupboard would do a much better service. A warming mat is perfect for maintaining a constant temperature, but it doesn’t tackle the issue of moisture.

Poppies – Bright and colorful poppies are notoriously difficult to transplant. They do best when planted directly in the ground, and they self-sow, making them one of the easiest flowers to grow from seed. Plant seeds in full sun in early spring to late summer or fall.

In their first few weeks of life, seedlings need more moisture near the surface where their roots are. The first 1 to 2 inches of soil should be consistently damp every day. As their roots become more established, water less frequently throughout the week (but more deeply so that the first 4 inches of soil stays moist) to encourage roots to reach down and firmly establish.

Prepare your planting bed by removing weeds, rocks, roots and other plant debris from last season. Turn soil over with a shovel or spade to aerate it, breaking apart any dirt clods. Add a 3-inch layer of compost on top and work it into the soil several inches down. Finally, smooth the surface with a rake and saturate the soil with a Flexogen Super Duty Hose and a Thumb Control Watering Nozzle. Let the bed rest for at least a day before planting, then use a trowel to make a shallow trench across the bed. You are ready to plant!

Seed-Starting FAQ

Aim for ¼ inch to 1 inch. Refer to seed packet instructions for planting depths specific to each variety.

What to do: Proper drainage is essential so roots don’t drown. Timers can help ensure new plants are receiving the perfect amount of water in the beginning.

Wallflowers – Plant wallflower seeds directly in the ground in early spring or autumn. Press seeds into soil or lightly cover them. They will germinate easily in 1 – 2 weeks as long as there is plenty of light. Wallflowers will offer bright, big, fragrant clusters of pretty petals to enjoy.

Marigolds – Marigolds are quick and easy to germinate, so there is little to no advantage to even bothering to starting them indoors. Plant seeds in a bright sunny area in the spring after any danger of frost has passed. They will sprout within days and begin to produce tight golden, yellow-orange blooms within 8 weeks or so.