Sprouting Vs. Germinating
When seeds germinate, they grow sprouts, so sprouting and germinating are the same thing. The term sprouting is also used by people who grow edible sprouts from seeds and beans. An understanding of how seeds germinate will help you understand the botanical logic behind the sowing instructions on seed packets.
Seed interiors contain an embryo that has all of the parts of an adult plant, including tiny roots and leaves called cotyledons, the first part of the sprout to emerge from the seed. The seed contains endosperm, the food that will nourish the embryo in the early stages of germination. The exterior of the seed blocks parasites and protects the embryo from injury, and in some cases, against hot or freezing weather.
When seeds absorb water, the water actives gibberellic acid, a plant hormone similar to steroids. Gibberellic acid causes the embryo cells to divide. This is why germination instructions always tell you to keep the seeds moist. If the seeds do not get moisture, they typically cannot germinate. The tip of a tiny root emerges first. The root provides water and nutrients to the developing embryo. The embryo sends cotyledons through the seed coat, and the sprouts continue to grow. Germination needs vary with the seed. Some cannot germinate without light; others need darkness. Some need to be warm; others like cooler temperatures.
Since moisture is important to germination, many seed packages tell you to soak seeds before sowing them. The newly emerged root needs water, so you should plant the seeds a little deeper in hot weather or in the summer when the soil dries quickly. Large seeds such as beans contain more endosperm to feed the plant while the cotyledon works its way toward light. This is why you plant large seeds deeper in the soil. However, you sprinkle some tiny seeds, such as grass seeds, on the top of the ground or covered by a thin layer of soil. Depending on the plant species, you may have to store your seeds in a refrigerator for weeks or even months before you plant them. This is called stratification, and it mimics the conditions of winter dormancy that some seeds require before they will germinate.
Rivers, streams or the ocean surf sometimes tumble seeds, scraping their thick coats enough to let in water necessary for germination. Some animals scrape the thick coats of some seeds in an unsuccessful effort to eat them. Still other animals prepare the exterior of the seeds for germination by passing them through their digestive tracts when they eat fruit. You may have to scarify the hard coats of some seeds yourself by scraping them with a knife or rubbing them with sandpaper.
Growing seeds or beans for their sprouts is called sprouting. This requires soaking the seeds in a sprouting device. You will typically provide the germinating seeds with fresh water at 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, changing it several times a day. When the seed hulls split to reveal the cotyledons, the sprouts will need light. How long it takes for your seeds or beans to yield edible sprouts depends on the variety, but once you harvest them and rinse them thoroughly, they’re ready to eat in a salad or sandwich. You can store them for up to six weeks in your refrigerator, but they tend to taste better if you eat them fresh.
Sprouting Vs. Germinating. When seeds germinate, they grow sprouts, so sprouting and germinating are the same thing. The term sprouting is also used by people who grow edible sprouts from seeds and beans. An understanding of how seeds germinate will help you understand the botanical logic behind the sowing …