How To Soak Seeds Before Planting And The Reasons For Soaking Seeds
Soaking seeds before planting is an old-time gardener’s trick that many new gardeners are not aware of. When you soak seeds before planting, you can significantly decrease the amount of time it takes for a seed to germinate. Let’s look at the reasons for soaking seeds and how to soak seeds.
Reasons for Soaking Seeds
What happens to seeds when you soak them? Why should you soak your seeds?
The short answer is because your seeds were designed to be abused. Mother Nature is not kind to a little seed. In the wild, a seed can expect to encounter harsh heat and cold, very wet or dry conditions and may even need to survive the acid-filled digestive tract of an animal. In short, seeds have developed over millions of years with defenses to survive awful conditions. But in your modern day garden, a seed is relatively pampered. Soaking seeds before planting helps you to break down the seed’s natural defenses against what it expects from Mother Nature, which then allows it to germinate faster.
Another reason is that while Mother Nature actively assaults seeds, she also gave those seeds an internal gauge to help them know when they should grow. For most seeds, moisture levels play a big role in alerting a seed to optimal grow times. By soaking the seeds, you can quickly boost the moisture content around the seeds, which signals to the seed that it is now safe to grow.
And lastly, for some types of seeds, they actually contain germination inhibitors that are designed to prevent a seed from germinating inside the fruit. These inhibitors must be leached away before a seed can germinate. In nature with natural rainfall, this process can take some time. But when you soak your seeds, this process is sped up.
How to Soak Seed Before Planting
Seed soaking, at a basic level needs two things: seeds and water.
Some methods for seed soaking may substitute the water for slightly acidic solutions, such as weak tea or coffee or even acidic chemicals. These acidic solutions are meant to imitate loosely the stomach acid of an animal. But these solutions are not necessary in most cases. For most seeds, water will work just fine.
Take a small bowl and fill it with water from your tap, as hot as your tap will allow. Some seeds can tolerate boiling water, but as the tolerance for heat can vary greatly from species to species, hot tap water is safest for seed soaking.
Once your bowl is filled with hot water, place your seeds inside the bowl, then allow the seeds to stay in the water as it cools down. Common questions at this point include “How long should seeds be soaked?” and “Can you over soak seeds?”. Yes, you can over soak seeds. Too much soaking in water and a seed will drown. It is recommended that you only soak most seeds for 12 to 24 hours and no more than 48 hours. The seeds of some species of plants can survive longer soakings, but you should only do this if the specific instructions for this species recommend so.
There are things you can do to improve how well your seeds react to soaking. Large seeds or seeds with particularly hard coats can benefit from scarification before soaking. Scarification means to damage the seed coat in some way so that the water is better able to penetrate the seed. Scarification can be done through several methods. These include rubbing the seed on fine grain sand paper, nicking the seed coat with a knife, and even gently tapping the seed with a hammer to help crack the seed coat.
After soaking your seeds, they can be planted as directed. The benefit of soaking seeds before planting is that your germination time will be reduced, which means you can have happy, growing plants faster.
Soaking seeds before planting is an a??old timea?? gardenera??s trick that many new gardeners are not aware of. Read the reasons for soaking seeds and how to soak seeds in this article.
Is Soaking Seeds Before Planting Worth Your Time? How Do You Do It?
Jennifer is a full-time homesteader who started her journey in the foothills of North Carolina in 2010. Currently, she spends her days gardening, caring for her orchard and vineyard, raising chickens, ducks, goats, and bees. Jennifer is an avid canner who provides almost all food for her family needs. She enjoys working on DIY remodeling projects to bring beauty to her homestead in her spare times.
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.
By soaking seeds before planting them you soften the hard outer shell, and make it easier for the seed to germinate. Read about the process and some tricks.