Pre-Germination, again

corn germinating sharpened LAHGardeners, especially those in short-season areas, will do almost anything to get a jump on the growing season. Pre-germinating your seeds is one excellent way to speed up the sometimes tedious wait for sprouting seedlings. At my daughter’s request, I’m re-posting this article that originally ran back in 2009. I wrote it for vegetable gardeners, but it could work just as well for many flower seeds.

The nice thing about pre-sprouting your seeds is that you don’t need any fancy equipment. No grow lights or windowsill, no sterile potting mix, no seed trays or peat pots or six-packs. Most of us have paper towels, sealable plastic bags, and even a shallow pan we can fill with cornstarch (or unflavored gelatin) and water. It’s easy, fast, and a fun way to get the kids involved. Here’s my method: Continue reading

Seeds to Sprouts

Lettuce seedling_LAH_9671In spite of the snowstorms this week, spring really is on its way. If you’re starting seeds indoors, it’s time to be sowing tomatoes, peppers, and other crops that take about eight weeks to reach transplant size. (Hold off on the cucumbers, squash, and melons—here in Colorado they should wait until early- to mid-May.)

Even if you’re waiting for warmer weather to plant, you may already have your seeds. Just think—that one little envelope might hold hundreds of zinnias or carrots, or thousands of zucchinis (at least)! How does something so innocent and seemingly lifeless turn into a magnificent flower or an overabundance of squash? How does that seed know to bide its time until it’s planted? What actually happens down there in the dirt?

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Seeds: Plants in Suspended Animation

Last month we talked about plant sex. If you missed that post, you can read it here. I’ll also post the same diagram from last time, from the University of Illinois Extension, so you can refer to it as we go along:flower12Imagine that the flowers in your garden are in full bloom. (I know, it’s still winter, but you can pretend.) The bees have been busy, and pollen from an anther has arrived at another flower’s stigma.  Now what?

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