Mark spaces out on a paper towel if using a large container. Draw a similar grid on a regular piece of paper. This will be your ‘map’, which you’ll need because it’s very easy to confuse which seeds are which! I used pencil on the paper towel this time, but a sharpie works well too.
The good news is that once seeds have germinated, they will continue to grow even if the soil temperature is slightly cooler. I keep my seedling trays at room temperature and they do great.
I use this table from Oregonstate.edu to determine whether to use a heated seed mat or not. After 2 days, carefully peel back the top paper towel and check if the seeds have sprouted.
If you use a marker, make sure it is completely dry before adding water or the color will bleed all over. If using smaller, individual containers just cut a piece of paper to fit the bottom and label the container with the seed variety.
If you’re not sure what you should plant in your garden this year, check out the 8 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Ordering Seeds.
Gently remove the germinated seeds and plant in your seedling containers. Be very careful not to damage the sprouts as they are super delicate at this stage.
I place the seed tray on a heated seed mat to speed up germination. It’s important to know the temperature preferences of the seeds you’re growing. Most seeds won’t germinate in cold conditions, but some seeds don’t germinate well in warm conditions.
Wet your paper towel so that it’s pretty damp, but not wet enough that the water pools in the bottom. Place your seeds in each section on your wet paper towel, writing them down on the corresponding section of your seed map. Cover with another paper towel. This will keep the seeds from moving around if you have to add water to the container. Cover the container with plastic wrap.
Some seeds take longer then others to germinate, but I check every 2 days so I can remove them as soon as possible. The more the seeds grow after germination, the easier it is to cause damage when moving them. They can grow into the paper towel or become tangled in each other. Moving them as soon as germination is apparent minimizes this risk.
How to pre-germinate seeds to grow your own herbs and vegetables.