How To: Paper Towel Germination
There are many ways to germinate seeds at home, but at YRG, when it's really important for us to have a high rate of germination, we always seem to come back to the same method over and over again - moist paper towels.
Paper towels make an excellent medium for germinating seeds because they are pathogen-free and make it easy to control moisture content. This method also takes the guesswork out of knowing if your seeds have germinated since you can easily observe them.
The initial setup doesn’t require any fancy equipment, just a paper towel, two 10" x 20" trays, some tap water and your seeds. If you have a seedling heat mat, you can use that to speed up the process, but it's not required.
Take a paper towel from the roll and wet it with warm water. If you have smaller paper towel segments like the Bounty Select-a-size, use two or three folded over each-other. You want to have just enough moisture so you don’t drown your seeds. The rule of thumb is to lightly squeeze out the excess water until the paper towel isn’t dripping anymore.
Lay your wet paper towel flat on top of the tray, then place your seeds on one half of the paper towel with even spacing.
Fold the other half of the paper towel over the seeds and gently press around each seed.
Place the second tray on top of the paper towel to maintain a dark, moist environment for your seeds. Keep your trays in a location with temperatures between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a where a seedling heat mat can come in handy in order to maintain a warmer temperature than you might typically have in your home or grow space. After 48 hours, you should see taproots coming out of your seeds. If you find some seeds that haven’t popped yet, leave them in there a little longer and keep checking each day. If the temperatures in your space reach above 85 degrees or if you have direct sunlight on your trays, you might choose not to use the heat mat so you don't cook your seeds.
Once you've got your seeds popped, you'll need to put them into a starter cell tray or small pot where they will be able to develop into seedlings over the following week or two. At this point in the plant's life, all the energy it needs to develop from a seed to seedling is stored within the seed itself. Therefore, you do not need a nutrient-rich soil or grow medium until the plant has built a solid root structure and developed a few true leaves and small branches.