It's the mail heavy time of year! I have a bunch of stuff to send out, mainly leek seeds and seeds are coming back in return from orders and trades - thanks Gardens North and Stephen! I also got the ad for EcoFarm day whose focus this year is on water. Yay!
But finally I've begun indoor seed starting with an experiment in an early sowing of onion seeds. Normally I start them in February but this year I'm going to give them a couple more weeks head start which brings me to a question that I've often pondered. When the instructions say start 6-8 or whatever beforehand, are they calculating the amount of time for germination?
I'm guessing not really as, for example, pepper seeds can take many weeks to pop their cotyledons out of their seed coat depending on conditions. Sometimes it just takes time for seed to germinate as is often stated for the germination shy parsley (a great candidate for fall sowing in my experience). I often pre-sprout to speed up germination. That is, I place seeds on an absorbent medium like paper towels or coffee strainers, moisten and place in a plastic bag.* This way I can check on my precious seeds without digging through the dirt** and plant as soon as I see little roots growing. It also means that I can place baggies in germination helping conditions such as a warm spot or even the fridge whilst taking up less room.
For more on seed staring round these parts see The Irreverant Seed Primer.
* Or check out Rob's Plants site. Sometimes there is an individual who just does a great job in compiling and sharing information. Rob has one of those sites. Here is his detailed look at the baggie method.
** When I first started gardening, I had been known to peel back the soil to check out the state of the seeds. Normally I don't have time to do this now nor do I think it is a good idea. It's just sometimes I get to wondering...