Do you ever wish your seeds could grow faster?

Almost everyone I know who plants vegetables from seeds on a regular basis (including me! 😎) is eager to find ways to be more efficient with the seed starting while still making sure to grow strong seedlings.

If you have a doubt about the seeds you dropped in the soil, or growing seedlings seems to take you forever, you’re going to love today’s video on GardenHowTo channel.

That’s because I’m giving you tips and tricks to better and quicker seed germination.

Click play below to learn:

– what role germination plays in the lifeline of the plants;

– what are the reasons why your seeds don’t germinate;

– how to differentiate good seeds from bad ones,


– how to manually germinate seeds in a paper towel.

Now, It is spring, 2022 and I bet you all can’t wait to plant your seeds. 😊

While you can’t wait for the seeds to show up the first tiny greens, let’s zoom in to the first moments of the new plant, when the process of germination occurs.

The whole process of growing a plant from a small seed to a mature plant, the germination process, is a miraculous part of nature. They have to crack the shell, produce a small sprout, then the sprout grows into the microgreen, it produces baby greens and only then it does grow into the mature plant. I’m speaking in the commercial terms so “microgreen” and “baby green” are those terms that you might have seen on the packages in the fruits and vegetables section in your supermarket. That’s pretty much the process of the seed growing into a mature plant when you plant this seed into the growing medium. It could be in your growing pots or directly into the ground you have to track the time to germinate plus days to maturity.

Check here what I meant under the “days to maturity”

I can show you an example of the pepper seed and how the seed goes through this process. So this one is the pepper seed that you usually see in a seed package or you collect from your own garden. In the next step, they grow into sprouts. See very small tiny sprouts grow from the seed? That’s what happens in the soil when you can’t observe these processes visually but that’s exactly what occurs under the layer of soil. And then they grow into these small greens that pop up, the first these two leaves are considered false leaves. These leaves will die later on anyway, that’s why they’re considered false ones. In the next stage, these small seedlings produce more true leaves. And then you will see these seedlings ready for transplanting. It is important to mention the reason why we have to consider how seeds germinate. Sometimes you might have noticed that not all seeds grow when planted together at the same time. Say you have planted four seeds of the peppers but not all of them have sprouted at the same time, there could be several reasons why they don’t germinate in uniformity. The reasons could be:

  •       The temperature
  •       Humidity
  •       The quality of the seeds
  •       And the age of the seeds is especially important.

Age is an important factor because you have to plant the most fresh seeds possible, so when we buy these seeds in packs it’s better to plant them the same year as purchased. The seeds collected from your garden last year should be planted the following year. The general best practice is seeds bought or collected are viable for up to five years.

My mother, for example, is looking for seeds of tomatoes that are two years old. She has learned from her own experience that tomatoes are stronger and more productive plants when she plants two-year-old seeds. Not the last year’s seeds but the seeds that have been stored for two years. Her years of experience as a gardener allow me to trust her as evidenced in practicality, the strength of plants, and plentiful harvests. You have to test seeds for viability when you deal with the old seeds in particular. It’s best to test these seeds for germination before planting them into your growing medium.

I’ll show you these recently collected seeds of butternut squash. When you collect your own seeds you have to go through the delicate sorting and filtering out which seeds should be stored and which ones discarded.

You definitely will find bad ones in the seeds you collect:

  •       The seeds that look flat are not viable.
  •       The damaged ones are not of the best quality.
  •       Smaller ones are also not as effective.

You can feel free to discard all of the above to your compost.

I have a group of garlic seeds where all of them look healthy. The bigger ones are the best. The ones in medium size are good too. The rest are too small, they will take a longer time to grow to maturity and they will not produce as good garlic bulbs.

I also wanted to tell you about the seeds that have a very thick coating. For example, old corn seeds have a very thick coating and it takes a long time to sprout. Here is what you do in this case.

I’m talking about old corn seeds because when they sit long in storage they become very thick and then what people do is they take a piece of sandpaper and they rub the shell of the seed a little bit so that it will be easier for the seed to crack the shell when the seed germinates.

Now how can we help the seeds to germinate? I will show you the simple paper towel method that you can use. However I didn’t use paper towels, I used just cotton clothes like old pieces of a handkerchief. I have placed the seeds between two coats of cloth and they stayed for three days now. I hope you can see in the video that I placed the seeds of the red bean and then squash as well as white bean, swiss chard, and pepper seeds. So for now the only one that produced the sprout is the bean.

Originally this bean seed was as small as this one. I wanted to see the difference in how much water the seed swallows. So this one is the original dry seed. This one is a germinated seed.

I take the paper towel and spread it as a pillow for the seeds. In this case I play with the squash seeds. I spray the seeds with water and then cover with one more layer of the paper towel and spray again. Some people prefer to take a Ziploc bag and insert paper towels with seeds into the bag. I use the glass container with a cover top because the more I work with nature; and the more I grow my own seeds the further I stay away from the plastic.  I don’t like to keep my seeds close to the plastic like Ziploc bags. I would rather work in a glass container. I place these paper towels inside, cover with the lid and then move the container into the warm and dark place. And then I check them every day.

As you can see from this example of  the various seeds that I soaked together to see who will be sprouted first. In this case the red bean is the winner.

I have brought these examples of the sprouts that I have grown separately. They have grown up to the size of the sprout so there are roots already started to grow in between the paper towels. This one is ready to be planted into the ground. A reminder for the beans: it’s better to plant directly into the ground because beans are tender plants and you have to be extremely careful when you transplant them. The ground has started to melt and soften but we still might expect frost until the beginning of May so it’s too early to plant beans and other warm-loving plants in the ground yet.

That’s pretty much how the process of germination works out.

Question from the audience: How would you germinate okra seeds and eggplant seeds? I have no success with either of those. I can never get the seeds to germinate even though the seeds are fresh. They just never germinate for me.

Answer: Well, it depends how you grow them. Do you grow them in the indoor medium?

        I start off by soaking the okra in water because I’ve heard it’s better to soften the tough outer shell and yes nothing happens with the eggplants. I put them in small cups of fertilized earth or growing medium and nothing happens.

What I think that might help is taking several seeds of each okra and eggplant and germinate them in a paper towel as I have displayed. Just to test if they will germinate at all. And yes, it’s better to keep them in the dark and not allow them to dry during germination. Visit every day and check if the towels are still wet. If not just spray with the water. Take several of these seeds and test them out.

        Okay so I’ll just put them in between two sheets of paper towel and mist them like you do.

Yes, exactly. I don’t remember how thick the okra seeds were. Do they have thick cells?

        Oh sorry yeah they’re fairly big like it’s almost like a bundle of say the swiss chard seeds. They come in a bit of a bundle. But it’s just one seed and the coating is thick.

Yes, test them with a paper towel. I believe soaking and the watering method help with harder peels. Good luck to you!

– Thank you!

I know it’s a process that sometimes is heartbreaking and sometimes is very successful. We pretty much learn from our own mistakes every year. Sure one year the tomatoes grow very well, another year they kind of disappoint so every year is the next lesson to learn.

– Yes I would agree with you on that. Thank you for this session and I will let you know how my eggplants and okra are doing.

You’re welcome. 😊

In the comments below, please share your own tricks about seed germination or let me know which specific tip from this video is ringing a bell for you the most.

I’m really excited to hear your feedback here and, as always, thank you in advance for contributing your wisdom to the conversation! 🌼

P.S. I’d love to invite you to join my online food growing community if you feel inclined.

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