A simple trick to help your seeds succeed this NJ growing season
Now that the calendar turned its page for Mother's Day weekend, New Jersey's growing season is officially here. Mid-May is typically the safe point to start growing many of those plants outdoors that are sensitive to the cold, and gardeners throughout The Garden State couldn't be any more excited.
One drawback of living in New Jersey, however, is that our growing season for garden vegetables isn't really that long. That's why mid-May is a very critical time of year.
Planting now will help you get the most out of the growing season in the Garden State, so anything we can do to help give our plants a boost is welcomed. And while some people are seasoned pros, others may be trying out their green thumb for the first time.
If you're new to gardening, have no fear. It's truly a lot of fun, but it's also quite a bit of work at times. And I know from experience that any tips learned along the way will only help you get that much better.
With that said, there may be some seasoned gardeners out there that aren't aware of this, and that's perfectly OK. Gardening is about trial and error at times, so any tips we do learn could be very beneficial to you and your garden.
For this tip, we're going to focus on planting seeds. Did you know there's a trick you can use to help your seeds germinate faster?
If you're looking to plant seeds, be it either flowers or vegetables, it might be beneficial for you to stick them in the refrigerator for at least a couple of days before popping them into the ground. Yes, that includes the ones you buy in packets at the store.
Now you might be asking yourself, why would I do that? Aren't the seeds ready to go the moment I buy them?
Well, yes, they are, but that's not why you would refrigerate them. The reason and science behind it have more to do with tricking the seeds.
Wait, tricking the seeds? How do you trick seeds? What does that even mean? Well, I'm glad you asked.
Sticking your seeds in the refrigerator helps simulate conditions they might experience during the winter months. Putting them into a dark, cold place helps the seeds prepare for the warmer conditions ahead.
It's a process that helps stratify them. In simplest terms, to stratify seeds essentially means to help pre-treat them so they naturally want to germinate faster.
It can also help the success rate too since refrigerating them can assist in helping some seeds soften their outer shell. This in turn makes it easier for the plant to break through and germinate.
Basically, the refrigerator helps simulate some of those winter conditions most seeds would experience in the soil naturally. So by doing this right before you plant them, you're essentially helping them succeed once planted.
Now will this work for all types of seeds? Not necessarily. But it more than likely won't harm them either. Just take caution if you use the freezer as that might be too intense for some varieties of plant seeds.
What I can tell you is that I did this refrigeration trick trying to get a jump start growing seeds indoors before spring arrived and was very surprised by the germination rate.
I had 16 starter pots with two to three seeds in each one, and practically all of them germinated. In fact, I would say it was around a 95% success rate, something I never expected.
Needless to say, all my seeds now go into the refrigerator before planting. But with that said, there is one thing you should know before giving it a whirl.
If you try to collect seeds from fruits, vegetables, or flowers, you need to make sure the seeds are completely cleaned and dried before doing this. Otherwise, it might limit the chances of germinating.
That, however, is very easy to do. When collecting the seeds, one of the simplest ways to do this is after rinsing them to let them sit out overnight on a towel.
Once they're completely rinsed and dried out, stick them in an envelope and put them in the refrigerator, it's as simple as that. Your seeds will keep and be ready to go once the next growing season arrives if that's what you're looking to do.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Mike Brant. Any opinions expressed are his own.