The Baggy Seed Starting Method is very easy to do and its very worth it!
All home harvested seeds and older seeds should be given a germination test using this method NOW! in seed ordering season.
I can not stress this enough, its worth taking a little time and figuring your seed germination rates. If you look on bought seed packages, it will give a germination rate on it, normally it will show over 80 or 90 percent. Smaller seed houses often do not list this and I find that can be because germination rates “can” be lower or just because they do not want the extra print costs for changing this per type of seed.
None the less, we are the gardeners and there is NOTHING worse than saving seed and planting out whole rows of seed that barely comes up. In years past, I have had this happen and just went.. hmm and gave them a bit more time.
In today’s climate change and with the higher need for our gardens (not matter their size) to produce, I changed this over years ago and went to the baggy method. There have been a number of springs that I have a very short window of cool seed starting before the soil jumps to warm starting seed timing. three years in the past ten, we have had very short spring windows before summer heat came crashing in.
I no longer have time to “see” what happens and plant again.. I want that edge, that leg up and I am betting that you would like the same leg up!
Test out at least ten random saved seeds from home saved. However for those fresh rare seeds, test them a bit later, so that you can pot them up.. No wasting those genes when they are limited to begin with!
Now I know that this method is not “green” in the sense that I am using a plastic bag and paper towel.. sorry I will give this a think.. and maybe play around with it to see if I can do this kind of testing without using them and still get steady return rates
I used Brussel Sprouts which need a huge lead time in my garden zone, I start them in Feb to get a outstanding harvest late season.
You will need paper towel (not tissue or bathroom, they are to fine and will rip far to easy for this process, but tissue is just fine for homemade seed tape.. A plastic baggy and seeds.
Now I put a goodly amount of seed on the paper, you can do it in more tidy lines if you want, or you can do as I did, the key is that it must be on one side so that you can fold the paper over it.
This amount of seed was to start my plants, you can use a lot less if you are just testing your germination rates.. these rates should go into your garden tracking book.
Fold it in half and then using water off your fingers or a spray bottle, wet the top sheet till its nicely damp but not to wet or dripping.. the paper should be wet enough that after about 60 second or so, you can see all the seeds clearly though the top layer but the very outer edges are still soaking up the water.. hope you can see what I mean in the above photo.
Fold it gently in half and slide it into the plastic baggy and then open it back up.. it should take up most of the space on the bottom of the bag. if you want to do larger amounts of seeds you can scale up to the point of a full sheet of paper towel and the largest baggy.
Then seal the bag most of the way and then blow in some air into the bag so it puff’s up some and then mostly seal it closed. Place your baggy in a warm spot, dark is fine.. top of fridge or spot by the heater (not on the heater) and watch them go..
now we can move it over to the next step if you are using your started seeds.
Now you pick and choose the seedlings. As you can see the germ rate on these Brussel sprouts seeds was outstanding.. I left them in the baggy till they were turning into true wee sprouts, then I moved them carefully and planted them up into their pots..
A mear 24 hours after being planted.. they are up and looking fab! They are now set up with a greenhouse topper, under the grow lights, once they get big enough that they move from the starter shelf to the grow shelves they will remove the top.
In total I planted out 30 strong seedlings, and feed 11 of the didn’t make it to the chickens bucket.
Compared to dropping two or three seeds per pot, I used a lot fewer seeds, so if you are seed frugal, this is a very useful tool. (you often hear about this type of seed saving in square foot gardening books)
Now, I say that one of the perks is that you don’t get to just select your seedlings based on the true starting leaves but also on the root as well. Now is time to start your cull process.
Anything that does not have even proper true leaf was removed.. Anything with very short or with reduced root structure or the few that had very long and thin roots was culled out.. at this stage, being part of the pack is just what I am looking for.
41 one seedlings, and I culled 11 or 26 percent of them.. we will see if all the once planted out make the grade.. I am game for all 30 but I really want 24 plants, and I am hedging my bets by doing a few extra.
I took a training course on growing plants with seed saving and plant breeding improvements and it was outstanding, I have never looked at gardening quite the same way. I used to garden for what was in front of me right now.. Now I garden both in the here and now but also with an eye to the future of the plant genes and what could be
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