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Growing Guide

Why you should soak some seeds before planting

Soaking can accelerate germination and increase the proportion of seeds that successfully germinate

Why You Should Soak Some Seeds Before Planting

It is traditional to soak some seeds before planting them. Soaking can accelerate germination and increase the proportion of seeds that successfully germinate.

Seeds have evolved a protective coating around the embryo so the embryo can survive being dispersed by some means. The coating protects the seeds until they find themselves in a suitable place to grow into a new plant. The seed coat that protects the embryo within, stays intact until the conditions, temperature, light and moisture, are suitable for germination. Seeds are dry and need water to initiate germination. The water softens and breaks the seed coat and may leach away germination inhibitors.

The water is usually in the soil where the seed falls, and when enough has been absorbed by the seed coat, germination begins. However, particularly in very sandy soils where the water drains away quickly, or heavy clay soils where water does not penetrate dry soil easily, soaking the seeds before planting will help initiate germination.

What Seeds Benefit from Soaking Prior to Planting?

Almost all seeds can be pre-soaked, but it is large seeds, seeds with thick coats and wrinkled seeds that will benefit most. Small seeds benefit less and are difficult to handle when wet.

Examples of seeds that benefit from soaking include peas, beets, cucumber, corn, squash, pumpkin and beans.

How to Soak Your Seeds

In a bowl, cover your seeds with warm water and leave to soak for 6-24 hours. Smaller seeds and those with thinner coats need the shorter time, and larger seeds with thicker coats need the longer period.

Some seeds will naturally float, and some will stay below the surface. Do not worry about those that float. The seeds will swell with absorption of the water.

Plant the seeds in the soil or seed mix immediately. This pre-soaking will hasten germination by a few days and up to a week.

18 April 2021