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how to incubate seeds

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This article was co-authored by Andrew Carberry, MPH. Andrew Carberry has been working in food systems since 2008. He has a Masters in Public Health Nutrition and Public Health Planning and Administration from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

If you’re a gardening enthusiast, you know there’s nothing more thrilling than seeing the first tiny green shoots come up after you’ve planted seeds. To germinate seeds you will need to give them the correct type of soil and make sure they get the right amount of sun or shade, plus regulate the temperature so they don’t get too hot or cold. Read on to learn how to give seeds the right environment to germinate and grow.

Check the seeds daily for germination. Many kinds of seeds germinate within seven to 10 days, but seeds of some perennials and herbs may take 21 or more days to germinate. Refer to the seed packet or product description to determine the expected days to germination for your specific seeds.

Plant seeds at the planting depth specified on their packet or label, and cover them with the seed starter. Seeds usually are planted no deeper than their diameter, according to an Organic Gardening website article. Plant tomato and pepper seeds at a depth of 1/4 inch.

Providing the right conditions for plant seeds to germinate results in a better return on your investment because the germination rate increases and seedlings emerge strong and healthy. Many kinds of seeds need moisture, light and heat. Although different kinds of seeds germinate at different temperatures, the seeds of warm-season crops, such as tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) and peppers (Capsicum annuum), sprout quickly in warm soil. Using an incubator is one way to warm the soil and get your seeds off to a good start.

Water the seed starter lightly, moistening it with water from a spray bottle. The seed starter should be moist but not soggy. Keep it moist until seedlings emerge.

Fill the water tray in the incubator and keep it filled if you use a chicken egg incubator to germinate the seeds.

Set the incubator’s temperature at the appropriate temperature for your seeds. Tomato seeds germinate best in soil that is 75 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and pepper seeds germinate best in soil 70 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

Moisten seed starter, a soilless planting medium. Fill each seed-starting container to within ½ to 1 inch of its rim with the moist seed starter. Leaving space at each container’s top allows room for watering seedlings.

very good guide i like it.
Thank you

Reply 4 years ago

What are the brown rocks on top of the perlite surrounding the seeds in the images of the last step?


Hey! Thanks a lot! I will be doing a desing practice on biology lab about germination soon and decided to use temperature as the variable but i was struggling on how to control de temperature.. GENIOUS! After planting the seeds you just water them on top.. right? Thanks (:

We don’t have panda film where I come from. Is there any alternative to the panda film? Is panda films heat resistant?

Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

It is interesting, I would like to make one.