As soon as the seeds start to sprout roots, it is time to plant them. Take the pie pan outside and spoon the seed, with some of the surrounding gel into a ½” deep hole and cover lightly.
The advanced method of sprouting seeds involves making a gel. First, mix 1 cup of water with 1 teaspoon of cornstarch. Let the mix come to a boil and start to thicken. Pour the mix into a shallow bowl, a pie plate, works well too. Spread the seeds evenly over the gel and cover with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a warm place near a window for some indirect sunlight.
Crops that work well with pre-sprouting are cucumber, tomatoes, peas, carrots, corn, parsley, pepper, eggplant, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and beet root. Beans can be pre-sprouted, but it is best to sow them directly as they have large cotyledons full of starch, and germinating beans are extremely susceptible to cracking.
*As an alternative to the Tupperware, you can lay the seeds on a single layer of paper towel and make little seed packets that can be placed in zip top bags that are only closed about ½ way.
Once the seeds sprout roots it is time to transplant them to starter pots or sow them into the ground. Theses sprouted seeds are extremely fragile you do not want to break the roots that have formed. If the germinated seed has a little bit of paper towel stuck to it, that is ok.
If you are growing in a greenhouse, or a backyard vegetable patch, pre-sprouting seeds can shorten your growing window by days or even weeks. In some climates, where the growing window is short for things such as corn this can mean the difference between harvesting crops or watching them die from the first frost.
Pre-sprouting means you are sprouting the seeds in the absence of soil, and then transplanting the ‘live’ seed with a bit of root to soil, compost, or vermiculite. The two most common methods of pre-germination are moist paper towel and gel. While many gardeners will ONLY use seeds prepared for the current growing season, what if you have some older seeds? Would you risk planting them and hope that they will grow? If you pre-germinate them, you can tell right away which seeds are viable and which are ready for the compost heap. Talk about saving time and valuable space in your vegetable patch.
If you are up for a little adventure, there is one more method of planting you can use with the gel. Pour the gel mixture into a zip top plastic bag. Pour the seeds into the gel and mix around to distribute the seeds evenly. Zip the bag about ¾ of the way shut so some air circulates. Once seeds start to germinate take the bag outside and get ready to plant. First, dig a trench about ½-3/4” deep. Then cut a slit in a corner of the bag, and slowly squeeze the gel/seed mixture into the trench. Cover lightly and voila you have planted a row of pre-sprouted seeds.
Happy planting! Feel free to post pictures of your pre-sprouted seeds on our blog or our Facebook page.
With less than a month before spring, we are continuing to talk about seeds. According to the calendar spring officially starts on March 20th 2014. However, Mother Nature does not pay as close attention to the calendar as we do. In the Northern Hemisphere, the spring planting and growing season start much later than March 20th. With some people experiencing a short growing
He attached a bunch of plant seedlings onto a disc (think of a 78 rpm record made of wood). The plate was then turned by a water wheel powered by a local stream, “at a nauseating speed of 150 revolutions per minute for several days.”
I think of them as pebbles inside a jar. If the jar is upright, the pebbles, naturally, fall to the bottom.
We humans have teeny crystalline stones floating in our ear cavities that literally sink in response to gravity, telling us what’s up and what’s down. What do plants have?
Knight wondered, would the plants respond to the centrifugal pull of gravity and point their roots to the outside of the spinning plate? When he looked.
How do they know? According to botanist Daniel Chamovitz, Thomas Knight 200 years ago assumed that plants must sense gravity. They feel the pull of the Earth. Knight proved it with a crazy experiment involving a spinning plate.
This, suggests Professor Kiss, is how plants figure out where “down” is. They use little statolith balls as gravity receptors.
. that’s what they’d done. Every plant on the disc had responded to the pull of gravity, and pointed its roots to the outside. The roots pointed out, the shoots pointed in. So Thomas Knight proved that plants can and do sense gravitational pull.
Plants have special cells right down at the tip — the very bottom — of their roots. And if you look closely, inside these cells there are dense, little ball like structures called “statoliths” which comes from the Greek, meaning “stationary stone.” You can see them here.
Strangely, this is a real puzzle. We still don’t know for sure how plants do it. There is a team of botanists, John Kiss and his colleagues at Miami University in Ohio, who have a promising idea, but at the moment it’s just a very educated guess.
Plants have the uncanny ability to send their roots down and their shoots up, even if the seedlings are rotated. The plants are sensing gravity. But how?