Seed Starting Tips
Are you insecure about seed starting? Or uncertain if your old seed is still good? The easiest, fastest way to germinate seeds is one actually developed by a scientist and involves a paper towel and a baggie. Not very hi-tech…but very reliable and easy. Dr. Norman Deno used this method to document the germination of seeds of over 5000 different plants. His three books on his life’s work of Seed Germination have recently been made available to the public domain in the USDA National Agriculture Library: http://ddr.nal.usda.gov/dspace/bitstream/10113/41278/1/CAT10633450.pdf
You’ll find more complicated versions of the baggie method on the internet, but this is the simplest and easiest. My only variation is that I store the baggies with the seeds and paper towels on top of the refrigerator where it is warm.
In Dr. Deno’s words and drawings:
Basic Procedure. The only materials needed for the basic procedure are (A) ScotTowels, a high wet strength paper towel made by the Scott Paper Company; (B) Baggies. a polyethylene bag made by the Mobil Chemical Company; and (C) Pilot extra fine point permanent markers made by the Pilot Corporation of America. A perforated section of paper towel is torn off and folded in half three times in alternating directions to give a rectangular pad 2.5 x 4.5 inches. The name of the species and any other information is written on the outside of the pad with the Pilot marker. The final (third) fold is opened, and the towel is moistened with water. The seeds are sprinkled on the moist open pad. The third fold is closed and the whole thing placed in a Baggie. Fold the Baggie several times so that evaporation of water from the towel is inhibited, yet leaving ample access to air to ensure aerobic conditions. The following drawings illustrate this procedure.
Dr. Deno gave credit for this method to Margery Edgren at an annual meeting of the American Rock Garden Society.
Drawings from Seed Germination Theory and Practice by Dr. Norman Deno, Second Edition. 1993.
See more photos: http://www.robsplants.com/seed/baggy.php