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Germinating Broccoli/Collards on paper towels?  RSS feed

 
Posts: 20
Location: Middle Georgia
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Hello all.

I am in zone 8b (Middle Georgia) and want to plant some collards and broccoli in a new part of the garden being tilled.

Because the temps have dropped this last week I am thinking about pre-sprouting on paper towels and then putting the sprouted seeds directly outdoors, it will take too long for them to germinate in the current temps and I don't want to wait 2 weeks to discover the seeds rotted.

Anyone have tips on pre-sprouting broccoli and collards?  Also, I just discovered collards a couple of weeks go and love them, the onse I bought at the store had a very mild taste but I am reading they often taste "strong" do I need to be careful about what type I buy?

Thanks!
 
Posts: 177
Location: ALASKA
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Place between two moist, not wet, paper towels.  Place in a zip lock bag in a warmish place, wait a couple of days and they should be sprouted.  Typically, depending on temp, they should sprout in three to five days.  Sometimes sooner and may take a week or more.  Be VERY careful transplanting them as you don't want to break that tender little root or all your work will be for nothing.
 
garden master
Posts: 4770
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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hau Lucrecia.  You can use the method outlined by Walt but as he mentions you have to be gentle when planting up the sprouts.

A better choice might be to use nursery trays and plant the seeds into each space, you can get these at any Walmart or Home Depot or you can order them online.
There are some that come with a clear cover so you can fill with potting soil, plant seeds, water and put the cover on, if you use some bottom heat, they will germinate faster and become stronger plants quicker.

This method eliminates the need for a super delicate touch since they are sprouting in a small block of soil (or sand or peatmoss) which can then be planted out when the weather is right.
You can also plant them out into a high tunnel or an outdoor row with or without a row cover, what ever method of growing you prefer.

Redhawk
 
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Location: Western Pennsylvania USDA zone 6a
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Lucrecia,

Just a thought on variety, I'd plant curly kale. I've found it to be much more Hardy and pest resistant. In Georgia it should grow all winter.
 
gardener
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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They are species that germinate and grow great in cooler temperatures. I would direct seed them.

 
Lucrecia Anderson
Posts: 20
Location: Middle Georgia
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Thanks for all the replies! Great info.

I was a bit worried that they may not germinate if there wasn't actual soil (I read beets need contact with soil, so sprouting them on a plate probably wouldn't work).  I have sprouted carrot seeds on strips of napkin/paper towel, that is easier to transplant as the tissue can be picked up instead of trying to handle the fragile little seedlings.

Couldn't get any broccoli seeds in town, going to plant collards and more beets instead.

I hesitate to direct sow the collards in part because this is going into a "new" area of the garden that is really a grassy field, there will be a lot of little weeds coming up and if it takes them a while to germinate I may not be able to tell the difference. If I presprout then they should either come up or not fast.
 
                            
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Okay, I might be the worst gardener who uses this site, so don't take this as advice.

Germinating seeds is EASY.  First I'd say soak them overnight in a glass of water if you're looking for speedy germination.  A room temperature of 65F to 75F has worked great for me with every seed I've done this with.  There might be an ideal temp, but I think it's splitting hairs.  I usually TRY to do it at least overnight, but have left seeds in the water for up to two days with the seeds still giving good germination.

After they soak, I fold them in a  paper towel or even toilet paper ......the important thing is a moist environment that doesn't dry out.  A sponge would probably work great (although I've never tried it.).  It shouldn't be soaking wet, but it should have a good amount of moisture in it.  Sometimes I don't have a plastic bag handy, so sometimes I use two dinner plates so that their rims are on top of each other making a somewhat sealed void in the middle...an enclosed space so moisture doesn't leave so easily.  I think the plates are easier to deal with as far as getting to the moist napkins/seeds.   I use a water bottle sprayer to keep the napkins moist, but even in my super dry climate here, it doesn't take much attention.......Georgia?  haha  yeah, they might just sprout if you leave them on the table exposed to the air and nothing else!!!......(humidity joke). 

Sometimes I get lazy, and let the seeds get their first set of leaves before I plant them.  They don't need soil for quite a while.  The worst thing about letting them go that long is the roots get hairs on them and start to grow into the napkin, making it a little harder to remove the plant without damaging it.  It's probably best to plant them when the tail just comes out......but I've had good luck either way. 


I second the Kale.  Dinosaur kale works great for me here in the desert of zone 8a, but that's totally different than your climate.

Speaking of, I lived outside of Sparta for a half a year.  The nicest people I have ever met in my entire life in that region.   When I came back west, I was waving at everyone driving by in my neighborhood!  lol  My neighbors looked at me like I was crazy, but I got a lot of them into the habit of waving back!  I blame it all on Georgia! 



 
Lucrecia Anderson
Posts: 20
Location: Middle Georgia
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Scott Tenorman wrote: The worst thing about letting them go that long is the roots get hairs on them and start to grow into the napkin, making it a little harder to remove the plant without damaging it.  It's probably best to plant them when the tail just comes out......but I've had good luck either way. 



Thanks. I use single ply thin napkins and just plant the napkin/seedling together instead of trying to separate them.

Thanks for the tips. And yes rural Georgia is awesome, I am a California native that moved out here several years ago and absolutely love the deep South. Would never want to live anywhere else.
 
Lucrecia Anderson
Posts: 20
Location: Middle Georgia
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And my collard seeds are germinating! Two days on a plate with saran wrap and a heating pad and some of the little seeds have very tiny sprouts. Very exciting. Now keeping them alive after transplanting will be another matter, but for now I will revel in my awesome success. May sound crazy to others but I tried 3 times with spinach seeds, every "fool proof" method on the net, and got zilch each time, so germination is a nice surprise.

Will try a few beet seeds next; read they need soil to germinate, but maybe that is only sugar beets. If they don't germinate in 5 days I will just direct sow.
 
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