All Things Gardening forum: Pre-sprouting seeds using paper towels

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Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
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woofie
Jun 25, 2010 5:52 AM CST
Are you a fan of the paper towel seed starting method? Works great for morning glories! And it's handy if you're not certain if the seeds are viable.

For anyone not familiar, you take a damp piece of paper towel or coffee filter and spread the seeds on it. Fold it up, put it in a zip lock bag and set in a warm place. Check daily because many seeds sprout quickly. Then when they've sprouted, carefully remove the sprouts and put them in pots. Sometimes the seeds will have grown into the towel; no problem, just cut or tear off the piece of towel with the seed on it and plant the whole thing.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Weedwhacker
Jun 25, 2010 5:52 AM CST
Woofie, that has always worked well for me, too -- especially good with older seeds.
Name: Lisa
West Tennessee Zone 7
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LeeLeesGarden
Jun 25, 2010 5:52 AM CST
I've got so much to learn!
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Birds Butterflies Dog Lover Cat Lover
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Weedwhacker
Jun 25, 2010 5:52 AM CST
Lisa, that's the best part -- there's always something new to learn!
Smiling
Name: Lisa
West Tennessee Zone 7
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LeeLeesGarden
Jun 25, 2010 5:52 AM CST
You have no idea how excited I am about this cubit! I've got a little home made GH that my hubby built for me. This is going to come in so handy for me!!!
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
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woofie
Jun 25, 2010 5:52 AM CST
Oh, absolutely! Have you used it at all yet? Gotta be careful what you drag into a GH. First year I had mine, I ended up with a nasty infestation of aphids from trying to overwinter some pots. Now I only use clean pots and sterilized potting soil and haven't had any more problems with bugs in my GH. And anything that needs overwintering gets stuffed on my back porch. Still get a few bugs there, but not so badly (cause it's not as warm!)
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Lisa
West Tennessee Zone 7
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LeeLeesGarden
Jun 25, 2010 5:52 AM CST
We just put it together this summer...it's been too hot to do anything in there yet!
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
Image
woofie
Jun 25, 2010 5:52 AM CST
Do you have plans for it? I only use mine now for starting seeds for spring (and I ALWAYS start them too soon and end up with tall, leggy plants...can't seem to stop myself! Smiling ). If you plan on doing seed starting, you might want to look around for seedling heat mats. They make a big difference in germination rates. Some people use old waterbed heaters or reptile heaters, too.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Lisa
West Tennessee Zone 7
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LeeLeesGarden
Jun 25, 2010 5:52 AM CST
woofie said:Do you have plans for it?


I wish I could say that I have plans for it...but honestly I don't have a clue what I'm going to do with it!

At step one...I don't really know 'what' to do with it. Any suggestions?

Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
Image
woofie
Jun 25, 2010 5:52 AM CST
Got any pictures of it? Does it have electricity available? I mostly use mine for seed starting because our growing season here is way too short to wait till after first frost for growing anything (Ha, our last frost was about 2 weeks ago!). I use heat mats because that's way cheaper and easier than trying to keep the whole GH warm, plus the seeds start faster. But that means having electricity. You might want to get yourself a book or two on greenhouse gardening. One that is highly recommended (heh, heh, I have it, but haven't really read it) is Greenhouse Gardener's Companion by Shane Smith. It does have a lot of good information in it, particularly if you're just starting out. (By the time I got a copy, I already had LOTS of bad habits Smiling ) And it might give you some ideas for what to do with yours. See if your library has a copy.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Lisa
West Tennessee Zone 7
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LeeLeesGarden
Jun 25, 2010 5:52 AM CST
You just had your last frost and I'm at 100 degrees...

I do have pics...will post after lil toodlebug (grandchild) goes home. Electricity I do have!
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Birds Butterflies Dog Lover Cat Lover
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Weedwhacker
Jun 25, 2010 5:52 AM CST
Lisa, I have a greenhouse that I wasn't really sure what I'd do with either, until after I got it. Like Woofie, I use mine for my seedlings in the spring and that's about it -- I actually start quite a few things under lights in the house first, then out to the greenhouse, then to the garden. This year I realized that I was kind of missing out because the way I set up the GH, I can't plant in the ground in there, and with our zone 4 seasons we're always trying to figure something out to cover stuff and keep it going longer in the fall. So this year I bought 2 "hoophouses", about 7 x 14 each, that I'm going to use for extending my season. We got them set up too late to get much advantage from them for the early season this year, but fall will be a different story (I hope!).

If you want to see (and read) more about that project, check out my "blog" forum on the Greenspace cubit; I've been trying to keep pretty good records and photos so I'll remember what worked and what didn't!

Once you start with a greenhouse I'm pretty sure you'll be hooked!

Sandy
Name: Charleen
Barnesville, Ga. Zone 7b-8 (Zone 8a)
Walk in Peace / I'm Charley's Mom.
Miniature Gardening Mules Tip Photographer I sent a postcard to Randy! I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
Charter ATP Member Garden Ideas: Level 2 Seller of Garden Stuff Butterflies Birds Region: Georgia
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Ridesredmule
Jul 13, 2010 12:50 PM CST
Tell me how to grow seeds in papertowels. I'm all ears! I'm all ears! I'm all ears!
Curious to that.....
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
Image
woofie
Jul 13, 2010 1:27 PM CST
Well, you're not actually "growing" them in the paper towels, just using the towels to pre-sprout them. This works best with seeds you can actually see ( Hilarious! ). I use it mostly for starting morning glories because I never have any luck stuffing them in pots. But it's also useful for older seeds that you're not sure are going to germinate. Basically, you just spread the seeds onto a fairly damp paper towel, fold it up, stuff it in a plastic baggie and set it some place warm (I tuck mine next to my monitor so I don't forget about them). Once they sprout, just separate them and put in pots. Some seeds will sprout overnight or in just a day or two with this method. And if the seeds require light to germinate, you can do the same thing by putting the seeds on top of a couple of layers of damp towel inside a clear plastic container with a snug fitting lid and set somewhere they get enough light. Those will need spritzing occasionally to keep from drying out. Pretty easy for starting just small quantities.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Charleen
Barnesville, Ga. Zone 7b-8 (Zone 8a)
Walk in Peace / I'm Charley's Mom.
Miniature Gardening Mules Tip Photographer I sent a postcard to Randy! I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
Charter ATP Member Garden Ideas: Level 2 Seller of Garden Stuff Butterflies Birds Region: Georgia
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Ridesredmule
Jul 13, 2010 3:26 PM CST
i want to try it with Amaryillis seed JT sent me. Thanks.
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
Image
woofie
Jul 13, 2010 5:46 PM CST
Hmmm, ya know I think I have some Amaryllis seeds sitting around somewhere too. Thanks for the reminder; I'll have to give that a try!
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Darla
AZ
Charter ATP Member
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azgal
Aug 19, 2010 9:22 PM CST
Hi,
I have always failed at trying to germinate a seed, it has never worked for me, no matter how closely I followed instructions or how hard I tried. I saw a youtube.com video about the damp towel/plastic bag method after I followed a link from someone's post, and I was amazed and thrilled to see how easy it is to do. ;)

I have been able to sprout citrus seeds, moringa tree seeds, Baobab tree seeds and now lots of Desert Rose seeds and now even a pear seed looks almost ready. I have seedlings everywhere! :)
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Birds Butterflies Dog Lover Cat Lover
Image
Weedwhacker
Aug 19, 2010 9:56 PM CST
Hurray!
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
Image
woofie
Aug 20, 2010 8:33 AM CST
Congratulations! Hurray!
It's the only way I've ever been able to get morning glory seeds to germinate, too.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jul 12, 2011 7:21 PM CST
I've used coffee filters in nesting glass bowls, but since I made very-fast-draining seed starting mix, I've gotten good results sprouting in trays. Now, over-wateirng doesn't guarantee damping off.

I use the 72-cells-per-tray where 6-packs of cells can be torn off (easy to move some packs to another tray or outside, and very easy to turn a 6-pak upside down and pop out the root balls.

For smaller, slower seeds, I use a 128-cell "plug tray". This year, I learned the obvious: AS SOON AS a seedling in a 128-cell looks healthy and strudy, pot it up, even if you would rather wait and put it directly into the soil. If the seedling is happy today, it will be root-bound and dieing a few days from now.

Or start them in twice as many plug trays, but 50 cells per tray instead of 128.

I wish I could find deeper plug trays and inserts!

Corey

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