To soak your seeds or not soak your seeds prior to planting, that is the question…
Among gardeners, at least.
The short answer is that soaking seeds is a matter of personal preference, but I’m going to share with you why you should consider soaking them.
I’m also going to give you information on how to soak your seeds, the best seeds for soaking, and a few additional processes you can try when soaking.
Before you start putting too many seeds in the ground, take the time to review your research and make sure you give your garden what you feel is the best start.
Here’s what you should know about soaking seeds prior to planting:
Which Seeds Should (and Shouldn't) I Soak?
All seeds aren’t created equally. You have some which are tiny and hard enough to handle when they’re dry and solid, such as carrots.
Yet, you have other seeds which are large and in charge. They’re big and have rough surfaces. These are the seeds which could benefit from a good soak before planting.
The seeds you don’t want to soak would be seeds like:
Seeds which could benefit from being soaked would be:
Why Soak My Seeds?
If you’re new to gardening, you may be wondering why even bother with soaking your seeds. The idea is to speed up the seed’s germination rate.
When seeds are in nature, they’re designed to be tough because the elements can be rough on a small seed.
Plus, seeds were designed to hold off on germination until the time is right. When soaking your seeds before planting, you’re doing many things:
1. Boosting Moisture Rate
Seeds know when it’s safe to germinate and when it isn’t. When you soak the seeds in water (or any liquid) it signals the moisture around them has increased.
Moisture is an indication which the seed needs, to know it’s okay to germinate, and they have a safe area to begin growing.
2. Removing the Protective Coating
Certain seeds have a protective coating around them. This coating is to stop the seeds from germinating when they live in the moist climate of the parent fruit.
When soaking the seeds, it gently removes this protective coating, and sends signals to the seed it’s outside of the parent fruit and free to start growing.
3. Softening the Seed
You soak your seeds because as the seed absorbs water, it begins to break down the outermost shell of the seed.
The shell is the hardest part of seeds because it’s meant to protect it. By soaking the seed, it enables the new growth from the inside to push through the hard shell and grow.
4. It’s Natural
In nature, seeds are frequently consumed by animals. Some of the best plants grow from animal scat. When soaking seeds, some people choose more acidic liquids.
Acidic fluids, as you would find with digestion, again aids in softening the shell. The seeds experience something similar to digestion and are encouraged to germinate and grow wonderfully.
How to Soak Your Seeds
You now know why you soak seeds and which seeds are the best fit for soaking. If you’re interested in trying this gardening technique, this is how you go about soaking your seeds:
1. Place Seeds in a Shallow Bowl
To begin soaking your seeds, place them in a shallow bowl. It doesn’t need to be deep because you’re going to cover them as you would beans you were presoaking for cooking.
Alternatively, consider placing the seeds into a plastic baggie. Put enough water in the bag to keep the seeds moist.
Once the seeds and water are in the bag, seal it. You can also allow seeds to rest between two wet paper towels; ensure to keep them constantly moist.
2. Choose Your Liquid
Once your seeds are in a shallow bowl, choose the liquid you’d like to soak them in. You can go with just water, or you can choose more acidic liquids like coffee or vinegar mixed with water
If you choose to add acidic liquids to the seeds, add approximately one tablespoon to the water you’re soaking the seeds in.
Also, if you warm the water the seeds soak in, this can speed up the germination process. Be sure the water is lukewarm and not hot, or it will cook them.
3. Let the Seeds Soak It All Up
You should allow the seeds to soak in the liquid for approximately 12 hours. If the water they’re soaking in is warm, it may take less time.
Keep an eye on the seeds because if they soak too long, they’ll begin to disintegrate. When the soaking is complete, it’s time to plant.
4. Watch the Weather
Before soaking your seeds be sure to check the weather. Make sure you have a good day to plant after the seeds are finished soaking.
The reason being, once the seeds are done soaking, they’re ready to go into the ground. If you leave them waiting around to plant, they could easily begin to mold or rot.
Therefore, don’t start the soaking process until you know you will be able to put them in the ground the next day (if you allow them to soak overnight.)
Tell Me More About Scarification
When dealing with extremely tough seeds, it’s a good idea to practice scarification before soaking them. Scarification is a process where the seeds are scraped to remove the outer layer.
However, you don’t scrape the seed to the point it becomes punctured. This will allow the outside of the seed to breakdown faster when soaking.
Again, this is an optional step, but it could help if you’re dealing with tough or wrinkled seeds which may be harder to breakdown.
If you’d like to practice scarification on your seeds, use a dull item such as a butter knife to scrape the outside of the seed without running the risk of puncturing the seed.
You now know why you should soak your seeds, which seeds are a good fit for soaking and which aren’t, how to soak seeds, and how to perform the scarification process.
Hopefully this will help you make an educated decision on whether soaking seeds is worth the added effort when planting your garden.
Plus, it’s our hope by knowing more about different gardening techniques, you can find what works best for you and have a lush garden with a bountiful harvest this year and for years to come.
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