cold water vs.warm water seed starting

Helena, MT

I posted the following in the seed starting forum and got just about what I expected from the flower people there.

Recently I came across a method of starting old spinach seed which recommended soaking the seed for 24 hours in a jar of cold water placed in the refrigerator for 24 hours; then drying the seed for 48 hours; and then packaging the seed and placing the seed back in the refrigerator for up to a week before sowing. I tried this with some old spinach seed I had and was surprised to see all the seed germinate within three days. I also tried this method with some hard to start Maui pepper seeds and after one week I have my first sprouted seedling which is about a week earlier than expected. I have some Jade green beans which did not sprout last season and some four year old saved sugar peas to experiment with next. Now approacking the second week I have about half the Maui pepper seed spouted. I am wondering if others here have tried this cold water method for old seed sprouting.

Has anyone tried sprouting any veggie seeds using this or a similar method?

sun city, CA(Zone 9a)

I havent tried it and have a question-when you package it and put it back in the fridge for a week, how do you package it? I have some hard to sprout peppers I would like to try it on.

Helena, MT

kc, I used 1"w x 2" zip lock bags, but I'm not sure it really matters. All the Maui pepper seeds seem to have sprouted. Much better results than I ever had using warm water. I still can believe more people have not heard of or tried this method.

sun city, CA(Zone 9a)

thanks for the info, definately going to try this

Helena, MT

Keep in touch kc, I really would like to hear if this process actually works on seeds other than spinach.

It has been nearly almost two weeks since sowing the Maui pepper seeds and I have over a dozen purple seedlings now. Best results ever for this plant. Ozark (Sam) who sent me the seed has a large pot with a number of plants in the pot. He has kept this pot going for a number of years by bringing it inside in the winter months and letting it reseed itself. My potted Maui pepper plants never seem to get more than 18 inches tall and when I bring them back indoors they succumb to little green aphid infestations. One generation is all I get from my plants, but that's plenty of purple to red hot peppers for my use. I plan on potting up three plants each to 2.5 gallon pots, and moving them outside when weather conditions are right.

I have decided to experiment with some old bean and pea seed using this cold water method. If this method works I will try it on new seed this spring.

My Intensions are to transplant pole beans and climbing peas next to my corn plants next season as soon as the transplants have one set of true leaves, and the corn is about 4 to 6 inches tall. There is more to this experiment such as pre-sprouting the pea and bean seed as well as adding inoculants and Mycorrhiza spores to the seeds sown in two inch cubes.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Go check your dmail...

Helena, MT

Did so, thanks Linda

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

More spinach germination methods:
- warm pre-soak
- wet paper towel in zip lock
- - - - in the veggie drawer of the refrigerator at night
- - - - take them out to the counter top each day
- inspect every day & plants sprouts in soil packs or cups
- grow on cool, at least for a while
Dr Thor:
- in the fridge, in a jar with moistened sand.

Helena, MT

Interesting Corey. Apparently spinach is a good cool starter. Come to think of it I had an outdoor winter experiment whichj failed, but the spinach seed survived and came up early the next spring. Possibly its just something about spinach seed and not so much other seeds. Still it gives me an idea. Spinach could be direct seeded in my covered beds as an indicator when to start transplanting or direct seeding other plants. Very Interesting.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> Spinach could be direct seeded in my covered beds as an indicator when to start transplanting or direct seeding other plants. Very Interesting.

I like it! A biosensor for soil temperature. Like a canary in a coal mine, only backwards.

And, at the same time, you get some greens as early as possible.

Helena, MT

II had a 12' x 8' hoop house last season which was not in a good location but before I tore it down I made a raised bed of straw bails inside the hoop house and covered it with the same old window pains I used for my othere six raised beds. I had an electric chicken house heater inside the hoop house to keep it warm so I could grow some winter lettuce and spinach for salads.

Well the heater caused the breaker to shut off one very cold night and the experiment busted. I threw a heavy canvas tarp over everything and just left it until spring to tear down. Well sometime in March on a warm sunny day I decided to tear everything down and thatís when I discovered the Spinach had sprouted. So I started watering the bed and a bit later the lettuce began sprouting. Although it took more than a month I was harvesting lettuce and spinach in the later part of April to my surprise.

I have several pots of leaf lettuce indoors doing well and one of spinach which I have started harvesting. Year round salad which is crisp and far tastier than lettuce purchased from the grocery store, and those bag mixes arenít cheap. Of course nothing is these days. I purchase organically raised wheat from Wheat Montana in 50 pound bags and make my own bread. Comparable bread prices are $4.00 a loaf or more here. We are rapicly gaining on an ounce of gold for a loaf of bread at the rate food prices are going

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

I don't like lettuce, but am wondering if the birds would eat lettuce and leave my peas alone?

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Spinach, and some lettuce, won't germinate at all if the temps are too high. I think Calalily gets them to germinate in the fridge then sows the seeds once they have sprouted.

Helena, MT

Honeybee didn't I tell you to get a cat. PK loves to garden and she claims her corn patch as a jungle. Without her the black birds would devastate my corn. Even the rabbits won't come near my lettuce patch. Think about it Honeybee.

I have a small patch which runs along the north east side of my house which does a great job of growing spinach and lettuce in the heat of the summer and only a couple of hours of morning sum. But, I don't have temperatures exceeding 100 degrees very often either. Even then the night time temps can drop about 40 degrees.

I grow various types of leaf lettuce and spinach in pots during the winter months as well. Although I get tired of eating salads at least ones a day, it's a required part of my diet for health reasons and it's the easiest thing to grow. There are so many variations as to how you can prepare a salad throughout the growing season. I have begun adding bok choi, kale and Swiss chard to the menu as well which cover most of the alphabet on vitamins.

Since my seeds are kept in the refrigerator until I am ready to use them, direct seeding is pretty effective. I use a mortar and pestle to grind some vermicompost into a powder, mix it with my seed, and place it in one of those small shaker jars like they use for hot pepper seeds at Pizza Hut.
I found a strange looking device at Good Samaritan, my favorite place to buy small tools for the garden, which has a handle and a flat surface with lots of tiny spikes. After broadcasting the seed I use this tool to rake the surface of the bed, incorporating the seed. Works a whole lot better than those small seeders they sell in the garden catalogs. I can seed a 4í x 8í bed in a matter of minutes.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

mraider3 - birds are a double edged sword. They are great at keeping bugs off plants, but they also eat the plants!

I've seen neighbor cats in the garden this winter - hopefully they are killing the voles!

When I sow peas later this month, I cover the rows with floating row covers. Hopefully the peas will get tall enough to produce peas for both us and the birds.

If I had a cat, I think it might get bigger than my tiny dog. LOL

Florence, SC

When I plant my beans, peas, etc. I cover my 4x8 box with a cover we made out of plastic netting and stakes. We just stapled the netting to the stakes and I can lay it over the box. Keeps the animals away but lets in all the sun and water. I leave it there until the plants reach it. Usually they are ok from there on out. If the seeds need a trellis or support I will use extra netting to cover the area from the cover to the trellis. Doesn't take much. I rarely lose the seeds to the squirrels or cats. M

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