Tips for successful seed germination

Updated: Jan 15, 2021

Ever wonder why any of the seeds that you’ve thrown into the soil hardly ever germinates? Of course, the seeds could be too old and no longer viable. Always purchase seeds from a reputable seed supplier that does germination testing and includes a best before date! Then, remember to store your seeds in cool and dry conditions to prolong its freshness.

At The Wriggley Farm, we use several germination methods that work really well in Singapore. Follow the steps below and you can’t possibly go wrong! Happy planting :)

What you will need:

  • Seed starter medium (make your own with cocopeat, compost and neem cake)

  • Spoon/spade for mixing

  • Large container/pail for mixing

  • Spray bottle

  • Plastic container (we recycle fruit container packaging)

  • Cling wrap

  • Seeds

Step 1: Prepare your seed starting medium

You can always buy a seed starting medium from your any garden centre, but it’s much cheaper and more fulfilling to make your own!

Some important characteristics of a great seed starter:

  • Lightweight so that the young seedlings can push through the medium easily

  • Sterile, preferably soil-less to minimise fungal and pest contamination

  • Moderate nutritional content. At this stage, the seedlings will utilise nutrients from the endosperm (the energy store within the seed) so additional supplements are not necessary at this point.

Our seed starter recipe [for 5kg of mix]:

  • 80% Coconut coir/cocopeat, moistened

  • 20% Compost/Vermicompost

  • 2 tbsp Neem Cake

Place all the ingredients above into a large container and mix well, adding water to the mixture so it is moist but not soaking wet. You‘ll know when it’s right when you compress the mixture in your hands for a few seconds. There shouldn’t be any dripping water, and the mixture should feel gloriously light and fluffy. Fill your container to a minimum depth of 5cm. All ready for the next step!

Step 2: Plant your seeds

As a general guide, bury your seeds into the medium at twice the size of the seed itself. For example, chilli seeds are relatively small and need only be planted at a depth of 0.5-1cm. Too deep and your sprouting chilli may have some difficulty reaching the surface! Cover the seeds with medium and use a spray bottle to gently moisten the surface. Some seeds (usually the tiny ones) sprout better when they are exposed to light. Examples are petunia seeds and basil seeds. These can be sprinkled on top of the medium without needing to bury them at all. Then, moisten the surface gently with a spray bottle. If you’re unsure, check with the seed supplier for their advice. At The Wriggley Farm, never fear as germinating instructions will be indicated on the website! After watering the seeds with a spray bottle, use cling wrap to cover the container completely. This creates a humid and warm greenhouse-like environment that is conducive for seed germination. Place the container in an area with indirect sunlight.

Step 3: Monitor the container daily

It’s likely that you will not need to water your seeds again, as the cling wrap keeps the moisture sealed inside the container. However, do keep a look out to ensure that the medium doesn’t become dry.

When you see green shoots emerging, congratulations! Remove the cling wrap to prevent mould (due to the humid environment), and water daily with the spray bottle. You may expose the seedlings to direct sunlight for faster growth as long as you’re sure they won’t dry out (watering may be needed 2-3 times a day). When the root system is stronger in a couple of weeks, they’ll be ready to be transplanted into bigger 5cm pots.

Read on for a guide to potting on and a recipe for a great potting mix!

Do you have a different method for germinating seeds? Share with us in the comments sections below!

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