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January 2018
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Episode 142 Starting Seeds Revisited

Today we cover the art of starting seeds…but in a limited manner.  I didn’t want to talk about the when.  Its so subjective with when.  I wanted to talk about the following things:

How a seed works…

Parts of a seed

  • Embryotic plant (plant fetus) one or two seed leaves, radicle (seed root), plumule (stem)
  • Seedcoat (womb)
  • Food  in the form of oil, starch or protein.  Why not protein – worst source of fuel

Image Detail


 Exogenous dormancy

Why scarification works – Seed needs the coat broken so it can absorb water – physical dormancy

Why soaking works – seed has chemical dormancy – chemicals need leached out.

Endogenous dormancy

Why heat and wet works – Dormin plant hormone is broken down under usually heat and wet.

What do you need.

  • Seeds
  • Growing medium
  • Container
  • Water
  • Heat
  • Light

Seeds – Bought but then saved.  The results of a hybrid vs. OP experiment I did.  OP San Marzano is on the left in the photo below.  Super Marzano is on the right.

Growing medium /container.  I use salvaged containers or soil blocks.  For the soil blocks I use a mix of topsoil, compost, worm castings and starting mix or peat moss.  For containers I fill them about half full with compost and then top off with starting mix.  Its true that seeds don’t need nutrients to germinate, when they get past seed leaves they can use nutrients and you will help growth and prevent potting up.

Water – Make sure containers have a hole in them.  I put cup in cup.  Top one has a hole.  When seed is first planted only use a mister bottle.  After seed germinates, light direct water is ok.  I like to water from the bottom with soil cubes.  Even water is necessary.

Heat – I use ambient indoor temps.  In the greenhouse this might be more tricky.  Every seed has an optimal germination temp  – cooler weather plants above 55, warmer – above 65-70.

Light – most plants don’t need light to germinate but once they do they need it.  Some need dark.  Check your individual seeds.

2 comments to Episode 142 Starting Seeds Revisited

  • Ourfriendadam

    Hey Jason, I finally ordered a soil cube tool yesterday. I’m in my second year starting from seed and I hope to plant everything from seed this year. My local garden center has a display Botanical Interests seed packets and I’ve already bought some great stuff. Thanks for the great podcast.
    – adam

  • Matthew from Gooseneck, Ga

    Great podcast my friend. It was an improvement to last years episode.
    Great job!