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By Imrael

Somerset, United Kingdom Gb

I have great success with germinating seed on damp kitchen paper in plastic bags both for subjects that need vernalising and straight in the propagator. One recent batch proved too small to handle, so I smoothed the surface of seed compost and vermiculite, peeled the back layer off the paper, laid it on the compost and covered with a minimal sprinkling and put the tray in the propagator. Within a day about the same number of seedlings has I had originally spotted were up through the potting medium. I will let you know how things go. What experience do other people have?



I grow most of my seed in a similar way only in round Greek yoghurt pots (wide and shallow) full of vermiculite. They are exactly of a size to fit a petri dish lid or base over the top to keep in the moisture. This means I can stack them in my heated propagator so get a lot in a very small space, and check them daily. As soon as the seed germinates I put them on the top in the light, and prick on into compost as soon as feasible using the end of a tiny electrical screwdriver or else the tip of a sharp pencil. It works well even with tiny things like celery seedlings though they are fiddly.
We can buy huge sacks of vermiculite, the sort used to lag lofts as insulation, so it doesn't cost much. The biggest advantage is that when you move the larger seedlings, the roots come out surrounded with vermiculite so you don't damage the seedlings. Vermiculite also remains moist once you have wetted it but is well drained so with a little care you avoid the risk of rotting the seed that you get with wet compost.
I wouldn't try this with very very tiny seeds (those like dust) as you couldn't transplant them but most things, both vegetables and flowers, work well.
I used to use kitchen paper but found the root systems could get damaged when you tried to move the seedlings.

7 Apr, 2010


what is vermiculite?i think i would like to try this method of germination! also, what is vernalising?

7 Apr, 2010


Vermiculite is a mineral made from 'exploding' a volcanic rock to make particles which are soft and absorbent of water. It's mainly used for insulation purposes but also for horticulture.
Vernalising is the same, or similar, to stratification, as it's a cold treatment for seeds which breaks natural dormancy (those seeds which won't germinate until they've been through a period of frost or cold).

9 Apr, 2010


thanks. is it easier to germinate seeds on vermiculite and then plant sow them into pots than simply sowing straight into pots/ the garden?

9 Apr, 2010


The advantages as I see it are:
1. Vermiculite is a sterile medium free of weed seeds and fungi spores etc. so your seed is given a better chance than with a compost.
2. It can be kept moist easier than compost which either gets too wet or too dry.
3. It is lighter.
4. By using in a small container you can fit several into a heated propagator, or into the fridge.
5. You can often see the seed on the surface of the vermiculite or as soon as it germinates while seed is often 'lost' in the compost.
Having said all that, if you have extremely small seed it's probably better to sow on the surface of compost.
Which seeds are you thinking of sowing?

11 Apr, 2010


i think i'm pretty much fully sown for this year, have done lots of salad veg and a few plants and flowers, but was thinking of maybe trying this method for the veg next year and a few bedding plants

11 Apr, 2010

How do I say thanks?

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