Microgreens & Soaking Seeds - When & Why

September 17, 2021 2 min read 0 Comments

bottom-watering microgreen trays


From our How to Grow Microgreens Series

Transcript below has been edited for clarity.

Nick & Nathan from On the Acre in Houston, TX discuss the soaking microgreen seeds for better germination and discuss their method of soaking and straining seeds.  

The process of soaking seeds for us just evolves. {We are} pre-measuring our seeds. We put them in these containers up here, the Rubbermaid containers, and fill them with water and let them sit for six to eight hours. Anything over that, depending on your climate, you have to begin to worry about things growing in the water and further washing or rinsing your seeds.

You do it for that {6-8 hour} period of time, dump them into a strainer after that, rinse them off, and spread them across our pre-soiled trays. That would be the entirety of the soaking process. 

So the way to determine if a seed needs to be soaked or not scientifically is, a lot of seeds have a coating around them that prevents germination until they've been moist for a certain amount of time. This chemical, it actually dissolves into the water and allows the seed to germinate.

...Things like peas, and beets, and chard, they all have this preventative chemical. It's an inhibitor {so} you want to make sure that you soak long enough to get that inhibitor fully diluted so that the seed will actually germinate. Typically larger seeds. Things like nasturtiums, pea tendrils, and sunflowers are soaked. Seeds that are inside of hulls like beets and chard have multiple seeds inside of each one. In order to get them to split open, they have to be softened by the water.

Otherwise, even if the seed tries to germinate, it's not going to be able to do anything because it can't get out of its hull. If you don't soak your seeds, they will germinate, just not as much. Some will come up; it's not like if you plant a tray, nothing will come up if you don't soak. Soaking just helps you get better germination once its in the tray. So without soaking, you may get 10%, whereas, with a proper soak, you'll probably get around 95%.

So the process of scarification is where you take a seed and you use an abrasive surface to scratch it. It allows the water to sneak past the inhibitor basically and enables it to germinate. It's easier, or I wouldn't say it's easier; it's a different way to cause germination to occur in seeds that are hard to germinate. We actually just ordered our hummingbird seeds. Everywhere I read about them, they wrote they say that you need to use scarification to get them to germinate. They are desert plants, making sense they would need to wait for a perfect rain to grow. The desert would naturally scar the seed.

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