" IT'S OUR GARDEN " By Elizabeth and Crow Miller
Treating seeds by soaking in water seems to stir up the life process of the dormant embryo within its shell. Like any living thing, a seed require moisture, heat and oxygen. The moisture provided by you is absorbed through the seed coat. This results in a swelling of the seed parts and a quickening of vital activities. In other words, growth begins.
The main argument in favor of this pre-treatment is not only for a speedier garden but also for more complete germination of all seeds planted. You can get germination results in 3 to 4 days, while without pre-soaking it may take 2 weeks of unfavorable germinating conditions.
Example: onion seeds, after soaking them for 24 hours, We planted them. We found the germination rate faster and the seedling stand more even and thicker than with unsoaked seeds.
We have found that the easiest method for sowing seeds after soaking is to put them in a plastic squeeze bottle along with some water. If you keep swishing the solution in the bottle as you hold it in an upturned position, you can get an even distribution of seeds. This, of course, is for fine seeds such as parsley, onion, celery, asparagus, and carrots. The larger seeds such as corn, beans and peas can be hand planted in the usual way after their water bath.
Don't expect the miraculous of pre-soaking seeds. We have discovered that you must consider the likes and dislikes of individual plants. It won't do you a bit of good, for example, to presoak lettuce seeds and expect them to germinate in a soil of 87·, as they prefer a cooler-temperature. So start your pre-soaked seeds at the temperature and time you generally plant. Pre-soaking just gives you faster performance under normal conditions.
Among the most difficult seeds to get to germinate are beet seeds. This is because the beet seed, or kernel, is surrounded by a hard, tough shell It takes a long time for a beet seed to get enough moisture from the soil, to swell and open up.
Pre-soaking greatly helps this problem. We always soak beet seeds a full 24-hours before planting, then sow in the usual way. We try to have a moist, soft seedbed, and cover the seeds with about a 2-inch of compost.
Carrots are much stronger sprouter, but we soak them too, to speed up the sprouting process. Peas are generally strong on germination. Just the same, they also have to absorb moisture from the soil. If peas are soaked over night, they will take in as much moisture as they would be able to do
in a day or more from the ground. The advantages are obvious.
It is possible, of course, to overdo the soaking. Seeds should not be soaked until they sprout in the water. The idea is to soak them until they are materially softened. They should be left to sprout in the soil.
Seeds that have a tough, hard shell, whether flowers or vegetables, will benefit most from soaking. However, We do not soak any seeds longer than 24 hours. We always get a complete stand of anything we plant.
You will find that small wet seeds do not sow as well as dry seeds. They cling to your fingers, and tend to drop in gobs. This can easily be remedied by laying the seed on a paper towel for a little while. The surface water will be drawn off, but the shell of the seed will continue to remain soft and moist until you have time to plant them. Another good method,, is to mix the wet seeds with dry sand, planting sand and all.
1996 / Crow Miller, Syndication./ Starting Seeds & Plants /