Paper towel Germination

Sprouting seeds in tissue paper

Okay, so I have more than enough seedlings for this season. My tried and trusted peat pellets have stepped up to the plate, and I have had good germination. Not so, as previously mentioned, with the Rockwell cubes and my Aerogarden,  due probably to seed viability

With the remaining method I tried for this season –  paper towel germination,  I have had more success.  But, as always, in Chilli growing, there is always something more to learn. My initial success ended up in disaster, and I had to go back to the drawing board. Here’s what happened

One way to test the viability of seeds is to use the paper towel method of germination.  If you are unsure whether old seeds stand a chance of germinating, you can use this technique to test a couple before planting. If they germinate, it means the thumbs up for the rest. You can plant your old seeds (into your usual medium), happy in the knowledge that you will probably have a good chance of germination.

So that covers one of the uses for the method. But how about using it to start your seeds for the season?  In other words, without peat pellets or the like?  The intention is to plant directly from the towels into pots.


It worked, but…..

To explore this was why I wanted to try out this method more seriously this year than I would have in the past. And you know what as germination method – it works. Some of the first seeds that germinated for this season were planted in this way.  I was impressed, but unfortunately, I managed to kill them off in my eagerness to get them to progress to the next stage.

Let me explain how. When seeds germinate, I usually want to get them under grow lights as soon as possible. Not doing this encourages the seedlings to become leggy as they search for light. This is bad for the seedlings when they do this, as their stems become long, thin and weak. It compromises their overall health and may lead to fatality.

When the seeds I had planted using this method germinated, I immediately transferred them from the towel to sponge cubes, which I also use as a growing medium. These were then placed in a seedling tray under the lights.  I expected them to grow as any seedling might, but nothing happened. It soon became apparent they had died.

Thinking this through, I realised my mistake. I had transferred the seedlings too early. They had not yet developed leaves, and were probably too young to have been pricked out. I should have left them on the towel and put that under the grow-lights.). The idea is to move the seedlings into a more permanent medium, like a peat pellet, or directly into compost once they had grown bigger (with at least a leaf or two!)

I have subsequently germinated some more seeds using this method, and am doing exactly that. Today I moved the seeds out of their ziplock bag and placed the seedlings on their towel in a seedling tray covered with clear plastic under the lights.

I suspect this will work, but let’s wait and see!

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Checking seed viability


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