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Soaking Seeds for Better Germination

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Post  OhioGardener 1/21/2023, 11:15 am

Do you soak seeds before planting them?  If so, experiences with them?

I soak seeds in an EM-1 solution of 1/2 tsp per cup of water (1:100 ratio) for 30 minutes, then dry the seeds on a piece of newspaper before planting.  I have always experienced a germination rate of 95% or better for seeds with this method, but not sure what the rate would be if I had not soaked the seeds first. Very Happy 

Thought about this today as I was preparing some Bok Choy seeds to get started in the greenhouse. I am starting two 6-pack of the seeds, so I soaked 6 seeds in EM-1 solution, and left 6 seeds unsoaked. I'm going to keep a log of them and see if any difference.

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Post  dstack 1/21/2023, 12:36 pm

OhioGardener wrote:Do you soak seeds before planting them?  If so, experiences with them?

I soak seeds in an EM-1 solution of 1/2 tsp per cup of water (1:100 ratio) for 30 minutes, then dry the seeds on a piece of newspaper before planting.  I have always experienced a germination rate of 95% or better for seeds with this method, but not sure what the rate would be if I had not soaked the seeds first. Very Happy 

Thought about this today as I was preparing some Bok Choy seeds to get started in the greenhouse. I am starting two 6-pack of the seeds, so I soaked 6 seeds in EM-1 solution, and left 6 seeds unsoaked. I'm going to keep a log of them and see if any difference.
TeraGanix recommends 12-24 hours of soaking them, but I would expect any soaking would be much better than nothing. I have noticed a difference with stronger and faster growth. Here's what I found from TeraGanix: 

"Research on Tobacco seedlings showed an increase in growth and a decrease in transplant stress when treated with EM-1®. Seedling roots were soaked in a solution of EM-1® for 24 hours before planting." Later in the blog post they say 12-24hrs.
https://www.teraganix.com/blogs/teraganix/planting-seeds
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Post  OhioGardener 1/21/2023, 2:28 pm

dstack wrote:TeraGanix recommends 12-24 hours of soaking them, but I would expect any soaking would be much better than nothing. I have noticed a difference with stronger and faster growth. Here's what I found from TeraGanix: 

"Research on Tobacco seedlings showed an increase in growth and a decrease in transplant stress when treated with EM-1®. Seedling roots were soaked in a solution of EM-1® for 24 hours before planting." Later in the blog post they say 12-24hrs.
https://www.teraganix.com/blogs/teraganix/planting-seeds

Thanks for the link!  It appears in the article that they are recommending soaking the roots of seedlings 12-24 hours before planting, and recommending soaking seeds from 30 minutes to 3 hours depending on the seed size:

"Use EM-1® to treat your seeds before planting.

EM-1® can be used on any seed before planting. Be sure the seeds are not already pre-treated with synthetic antimicrobials or fungicides as this can kill the microorganisms in EM-1® . High-quality, organic seeds are best. 

(1) Create a solution of 1 part EM-1®  to 1,000 Parts Water or about 1 tsp per gallon. 
(2) Submerge seeds and let sit for the following times;
  • Small Seeds - 20 to 30 Minutes (i.e. mustard, kale, broccoli, cabbage)
  • Medium Seeds - 30 to 60 Minutes (i.e. cucumber, carrot, peppers, tomato)
  • Large Seeds - 2 to 3 Hours (i.e. pumpkin, beans, squash)

(3) Air dry seeds before planting if they are sticking
(4) Plant the seeds in nutrient rich soil and water with the same EM-1® solution after planting."

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Post  dstack 1/21/2023, 2:46 pm

Wow, I totally misread that. That's what I get for skimming the article. That's good to know!
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Post  OhioGardener 1/24/2023, 6:31 pm

OhioGardener wrote:Thought about this today as I was preparing some Bok Choy seeds to get started in the greenhouse. I am starting two 6-pack of the seeds, so I soaked 6 seeds in EM-1 solution, and left 6 seeds unsoaked. I'm going to keep a log of them and see if any difference.

This is day 4 of my experiment of soaking seeds before planting. Four of the six seeds that were soaked before planting have sprouted, none of the seeds that were not soaked have sprouted yet.

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Post  dstack 1/24/2023, 7:00 pm

OhioGardener wrote:
This is day 4 of my experiment of soaking seeds before planting. Four of the six seeds that were soaked before planting have sprouted, none of the seeds that were not soaked have sprouted yet.
Interesting. I'd love to see photos of both sets if there's a notable difference in growth of the seedlings after a few weeks. Then I should try the experiment and document it with photos or video, to eventually make a video about this.
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Post  OhioGardener 1/25/2023, 5:51 pm

dstack wrote:Interesting. I'd love to see photos of both sets if there's a notable difference in growth of the seedlings after a few weeks.

I hadn't thought of that aspect. I wouldn't expect much difference in growth once the seeds have germinated and are growing since they would all be in identical grow medium and identical watering, etc..  But, that might be something I watch to see if the soaking of the seeds in EM-1 might have given them a growth boost.

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Post  OhioGardener 1/25/2023, 5:54 pm

OhioGardener wrote:This is day 4 of my experiment of soaking seeds before planting. Four of the six seeds that were soaked before planting have sprouted, none of the seeds that were not soaked have sprouted yet.

This is day 5 of my experiment of soaking the seeds, and the other 2 of the six seeds that were soaked have sprouted. All six of the soaked seeds have sprouted at the 5-day mark, none of the seeds that were not soaked have sprouted yet.

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Post  Soose 1/26/2023, 8:23 am

I might have asked this once before, tell me more about EM-1, please? I don't know if my seeds have antifingals on them already. .
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Post  OhioGardener 1/26/2023, 9:20 am

Soose wrote:I might have asked this once before, tell me more about EM-1, please?  I don't know if my seeds have antifingals on them already. .  

Effective Microorganisms (EM), aka Probiotics, is very beneficial for life in general, and gardening in particular, but would be whole thread on its own, and would go off topic here. At the bottom of this post I'll add a link to a former discussion on it.

If seeds are purchased from a reputable seed purveyor all of them will be marked if they are treated, pelleted, etc., which is not the case if they are purchased from a youtube influencer, or from a site such a Etsy or Ebay. That said, there is no reason for vegetable seeds to be treated with antifungals, etc.  


https://squarefoot.forumotion.com/t23660-plant-probiotic-em-1-that-got-rid-of-whitefly#304856

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Post  Soose 1/26/2023, 10:34 am

I bought from seedsforthesouth last year, and they came with almost no info. So I didn't know, they might have been treated. Live and learn.
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Post  Scorpio Rising 1/26/2023, 7:55 pm

So, I have always soaked certain seeds—beans, beets, spinach to name the ones that first come to mind.  Very interesting however!  I am watching to see what happens.
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Post  sanderson 1/26/2023, 11:48 pm

I don't know if this counts as soaking, but I am using the Ziplock baggie and wet paper towel method for germinating pepper seeds.  Day 6 and the green/red peppers and yellow peppers have germinated and been trasferred into seed cups with screened and sterilized MM.  I tried it last year and only one seed made it.  And, when I tried to put it in a seed cup, I broke off the reticle (root). silly me

I'm starting peppers 3 weeks early because it takes a long time to germinate as apposed to tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, etc.

I'm curious if I had sprayed the paper towel with EM-1, if they would have germinated faster.   study

This was day 4 with teeny reticles.
Soaking Seeds for Better Germination Seed_r10

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Post  plantoid 1/27/2023, 5:51 am

Hard earnt experience in doing presoaks .

It's best if you can change the water / rinse them off every 24 before the water around the seeds goes sour due to a bacterial infection or mould forming . 
 I tend to use cold boiled sterile water in such matters.
When I want some  I usually  boil the kettle last thing at night and in the morning rinse out a previously washed a screw top bottle with some , let it drain a few minutes then pour in the rest of the cold boiled water & put the cap on , put it in the fridge & it will stay good for a week .
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Post  plantoid 1/27/2023, 5:55 am

sanderson wrote:I don't know if this counts as soaking, but I am using the Ziplock baggie and wet paper towel method for germinating pepper seeds.  Day 6 and the green/red peppers and yellow peppers have germinated and been trasferred into seed cups with screened and sterilized MM.  I tried it last year and only one seed made it.  And, when I tried to put it in a seed cup, I broke off the reticle (root). silly me

I'm starting peppers 3 weeks early because it takes a long time to germinate as apposed to tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, etc.

I'm curious if I had sprayed the paper towel with EM-1, if they would have germinated faster.   study

This was day 4 with teeny reticles.
Soaking Seeds for Better Germination Seed_r10
  Don't remove the chitted seed , using good sharp scissors cut a tiny square off the paper with the seed in the middle and plant that 1/8 inch .... 3 mm below the surface in damp sterile MM , that way the micro root hairs are not disturbed
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Post  Soose 1/27/2023, 6:06 am

I'm scheduling seed germination next week. Newbie. Planning to do it this way. ( Apre-soak and paper towel method could be included.) https://youtu.be/F-5lF6h_Pns
Goshen Farms...
Acquarium heater, in controlled 75F humid environment.

I have a seed germination chart that shows there's a sweet spot in temps ( less time) for many seeds. What do y'all think?
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Post  plantoid 1/27/2023, 7:20 am

Soose wrote:I'm scheduling seed germination next week. Newbie.  Planning to do it this way.  ( Apre-soak and paper towel method could be included.)  https://youtu.be/F-5lF6h_Pns
Goshen Farms...  
Acquarium heater, in controlled 75F humid environment.  

I have a seed germination chart that shows there's a sweet spot in temps ( less time) for many seeds.  What do y'all think?
 If you dampen the the paper toweling  as half inch squares on a glass Pyrex type lid or plate and sow a single seed in the middle of each sqauare  ....when it comes to planting on you'll find it a lot easier to pick up individual sprouted seeds than trying to pull micro hair rooted seeds from a big sheet of paper towel  or pull / lift seedlings out of a tray of MM .

 Don't forget that the seeds will need a few drops of water besides the  higher humidity environment .. Laughing Don't let the towel get dry like I did in the early days of experimenting this method way back in the 1970's .
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Post  OhioGardener 1/27/2023, 7:51 am

Scorpio Rising wrote:So, I have always soaked certain seeds—beans, beets, spinach to name the ones that first come to mind.  Very interesting however!  I am watching to see what happens.

Beet seeds are very hard, and must be soaked to get fairly quick germination.  I soak them for about an hour.  I soak bean seeds for 2 or 3 hours, then roll them in bean inoculate while they are still wet.

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Post  OhioGardener 1/27/2023, 7:58 am

sanderson wrote: I'm starting peppers 3 weeks early because it takes a long time to germinate as apposed to tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, etc.

I have found that if I turn up the thermostat on the heat mat to 85ºF that pepper seeds sprout a lot faster and more reliably. They love the heat!

I'm curious if I had sprayed the paper towel with EM-1, if they would have germinated faster.   
It is that curiosity that enticed me to do this experiment. Soaking Seeds for Better Germination 3170584802

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Post  OhioGardener 1/27/2023, 8:01 am

Soose wrote:I have a seed germination chart that shows there's a sweet spot in temps ( less time) for many seeds.  What do y'all think?

That is true, all seeds have a temp range that they prefer in order to break their dormancy and sprout.  Lettuce seeds, for example love cool weather and will quickly sprout if setting a cooler with ice, which peppers have to be hot to germinate.

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Post  OhioGardener 1/28/2023, 6:09 pm

OhioGardener wrote:
This is day 4 of my experiment of soaking seeds before planting. Four of the six seeds that were soaked before planting have sprouted, none of the seeds that were not soaked have sprouted yet.

This is day 5 of my experiment of soaking the seeds, and the other 2 of the six seeds that were soaked have sprouted. All six of the soaked seeds have sprouted at the 5-day mark, none of the seeds that were not soaked have sprouted yet.

This is day 8 of my experiment of soaking seeds in EM-1 solution before planting.  All six of the seeds that were soaked are growing and their first true leaves are beginning to develop, and five of the six seeds that were not soaked have germinated.  After the all six seeds that were soaked had sprouted I removed them from the plastic dome cover and heat pad to another location under the lights. The seeds that were not soaked are still on the heat pad and under the plastic dome to see if the 6th seed germinates.

So far, the only conclusion is that the seeds soaked in the EM-1 solution germinated is one-half the time of those that were not soaked. I may do a more extensive experiment later when starting the spring planting seeds, but this experiment has so far convinced me to continue soaking the seeds in the EM-1 solution before planting.

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Post  Soose 1/29/2023, 5:26 am

sanderson wrote:I plant for 2 people, plus ... 
Exactly the type of info I wanted, Sandrrson -- thank you so much!
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Post  OhioGardener 2/2/2023, 9:21 am

dstack wrote:Interesting. I'd love to see photos of both sets if there's a notable difference in growth of the seedlings after a few weeks. Then I should try the experiment and document it with photos or video, to eventually make a video about this.

I love a challenge, so I decided to do another short experiment with photos.  This time I am only doing 6 seeds, 3 soaked with activated EM, and 3 not soaked. They were planted on January 25th in one 6-pack Cow Pot with the same sifted compost in all 6 cells, set on a heat mat with a plastic dome over the tray. I marked the 3 soaked seeds with a tag showing "EM", and the 3 that were not soaked with a tag showing "N". All 6 have germinated now, and this picture shows them on the 8th day after planting.  I will continue following them until they are transplanted into the raised bed.  The EM soaked ones show a significant advantage right now.

Soaking Seeds for Better Germination Bok_ch12

Soaking Seeds for Better Germination Bok_ch13

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Post  Soose 2/3/2023, 5:56 pm

I'm sold.  I ordered the EM-1.
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Post  sanderson 2/4/2023, 3:42 am

OhioGardener wrote:
dstack wrote:Interesting. I'd love to see photos of both sets if there's a notable difference in growth of the seedlings after a few weeks. Then I should try the experiment and document it with photos or video, to eventually make a video about this.

I love a challenge, so I decided to do another short experiment with photos.  This time I am only doing 6 seeds, 3 soaked with activated EM, and 3 not soaked. . . . I will continue following them until they are transplanted into the raised bed.  The EM soaked ones show a significant advantage right now.

Soaking Seeds for Better Germination Bok_ch12

Soaking Seeds for Better Germination Bok_ch13
Your results are worth repeating the experiment again using another type of seeds. You may be on to something.

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