What You Need to Germinate Seeds Successfully
Simple tips to help you germinate seeds, whether you are sowing them indoors, or directly into your garden
krblokhin / Getty Images
In order to get the highest possible yields from your garden, it can be helpful to go back to the fundamentals and take some time to really think through the process of growing plants from beginning to end.
A Good Garden Needs Good Seeds
First of all, in order to achieve good germination rates, you need quality seeds. Of course, you can save your own seeds from heirloom or heritage crops. But if you are buying seeds, you always need to consider the source.
Make sure you choose seeds from a reputable supplier. And, ideally, source seeds from as close to home as possible. Seeds lose viability over time, and if stored or transported incorrectly, can yield poor results. Make sure the seeds you choose are suitable for growing in your area, and in your particular garden. (Check with your local cooperative extension service for advice on what may be, or may not be, suitable for your area.)
Good Germination Rates Depend on Environmental Conditions
Once you have your seeds, remember that you too will have to store them correctly. Then you will have to make sure that you provide the seeds with the environmental conditions they need to germinate successfully. Even when the environmental conditions are not perfect, you can still get plants to grow. But boosting germination rates by optimizing conditions can increase the yields possible from your garden.
Here are some important things to think about when trying to make sure conditions are ideal:
Mature seeds typically need to rehydrate. This means that they will take on significant amounts of water before they can begin the germination process. As the seeds take in water, hydrolytic enzymes are activated. These begin to break down the food stored within the seed so that metabolic processes can take place. Water also softens the seed coating, allowing a seedling to emerge.
The amount of water required will depend on the type of seed you sow. Water too little, and germination cannot take place. But water too much and this can also cause a range of issues. Water needs tie in with the next requirement – oxygen. Ensuring that both water and oxygen needs are met is crucial in ensuring good rates of germination.
Before seeds develop leaves, most of their energy comes from aerobic respiration. In other words, seeds need oxygen from their environment for metabolic processes to take place.
When insufficient water is supplied, the coatings on some seeds may not be able to break down. Sometimes, this is necessary in order to allow seeds to take in water and oxygen from their environment.
But overwatering can cause waterlogging and compaction. Which can mean that seeds are starved of the oxygen they need.
In terms of oxygen needs, it is also important to make sure that seeds are buried to the right depth. If a seed is buried to deep, this might also make it more difficult for oxygen to reach them. (Some seeds also need light for germination, and so must be placed on the surface of the soil.)