The follwing is quoted from J.L. Hudson's catalog. http://www.jlhudsonseeds.net/Germination.htm I hope it will help those that are new to seed starting. Seeds that require cold treatment are the trickiest to start. Giving the proper treatment will increase the germination from 0% to 98%. I know I wasted a lot of seeds not knowing how to give a cold treatment. Directions on the back of seed packs will rarely explain it. The Tom Clothier page has a wonderful database of germination temperatures required for most seeds http://users.anet.com/~manytimes/page52.htm
"COLD TREATMENT (Prechill)
Many seeds need a cold moist period before they will sprout. The essentials are moisture, air, cold and time. Dry cold (a packet in the refrigerator) won't work. Often the seed may be sown in fall or winter and allow natural cold & snow to work.
1. Soak seed overnight until swollen or soft (up to four days for large hard nuts). Nick if needed.
2. Mix seed with about 3 times its volume of damp peat moss or vermiculite and place in a plastic bag or pill bottle. Small amounts may be conveniently layered between damp paper towels or coffee filters. Remember, air is essential; avoid sogginess. Label the bag with the name of the seed and date to be removed from cold. Mark your calendar too!
3. Store in the refrigerator (34 - 40ºF) for the time specified in the catalog. Four to 12 weeks is usual.
4. Remove the seed and sow. Seed is best kept cool (50ºF or so) for a week after sowing, and gradually brought up to warm temperatures. Warming too quickly can be fatal for some seeds.
'Cold germinators' only sprout at cold temperatures, and are most conveniently treated by layering in damp towels and pricked off as they germinate.
If using outdoor treatment, hold pots at above freezing for a few weeks before putting outside.
Snow cover is often highly beneficial.
Dormancy is highly variable. Sometimes a seed collected in the warm lowlands will germinate readily, but the same species collected at a high elevation will need cold. Dormancy even varies between individual plants at the same site, and varies with weather before harvest and conditions of storage after harvest."