The Whole (Long) Truth About Seed Germination

Seed germination can be the most difficult aspect of setting up a vegetable garden. It can take anywhere between ten days to two weeks depending on the vegetable type and the soil conditions of your area. The right amount of humidity, light, and temperature help in proper seed germination.

Most vegetables need sunlight to grow well, so choose your spot accordingly. You might want to consider using grow lights if you do not have access to direct sunlight in your home.

A good combination of water and oxygen also plays a major role in seed germination. While sowing the seeds, be careful of the amount of water you are putting in the containers. Water softens the seed coat to induce germination and seeds need extra hydration to germinate but if you water too much, they will get water-logged and die due to lack of oxygen.

Correct depth is another major factor that can make or break the process of seed germination. For success with seed germination, follow the instructions on the label. Avoid sowing the seeds too close or too deep into the soil.

Most seeds germinate in the soil at temperatures between 40 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. For example, tomatoes germinate between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Wait for spring to sow the seeds directly in the garden when the soil temperature warms to at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Heating is probably one of the most important factors when considering conditions that will alter how quickly seeds sprout. When growing vegetables, the temperature of the environment and the soil chosen, are both big factors in getting the seeds to germinate.

Seeds that are developed by the matured plant by the end of its season the year before may fall off or stay attached to the seed head until spring. This means that they experience colder temperatures as they will be subjected to the winter weather. Then, spring arrives and brings with it warmer weather. This is why the temperature the seeds are at naturally acts as one of the triggers and why placing the seed pan on a heating pad should trigger the plants to begin germinating. This is also the reason that certain seeds may have a specific cold dormancy period that they have to undergo before they will be able to germinate.

If you're into growing vegetables, you may have heard the old adage "April showers bring May flowers". This points to one of the other main factors when trying to get seeds to germinate and then sprout, the level of water they are able to absorb. Water soaks through the hardened exterior of the seeds and allows them to expand. Once they expand enough and there is enough internal pressure from the water and the growing seedling, the seed’s casing will pop open, allowing the seedling to sprout.

When trying to simulate natural conditions, without trying to flood your seed trays out, it is a good idea to keep them moist and allow the seeds plenty of access to water. Keep the water source close to the seedlings as they need more frequent watering at this stage to develop strong roots and stems. Rather than sprinkling the seedlings every day, it is better to give them a long drink after every few days. It encourages the roots to grow deeper where they are better able to access the nutrients. Consider installing a drip irrigation system if you are growing your vegetables in a garden bed. It will help save water and the time you need to spend watering.

When planting vegetable seeds, lighting is important to consider, as this will cause the seedlings to push closer to the soil surface. If they do not have any light source, then as soon as the natural food storage inside of the seed’s casing is used up, it will have no way to begin photosynthesizing and will die quickly.

Germination takes place when the plant grows from seed. Seeds then start to produce roots, stems, and leaves. Cotyledons, also known as 'seed leaves' are the first leaves produced by a plant. Cotyledons are actually not true leaves, as they are a part of the seed or embryo of the plant. These seed leaves help to access the stored nutrients in the seed until the true leaves develop and begin photosynthesizing!

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