Thursday, May 26, 2011

Seed Germinating Tip for Beets, Chard, and Spinach

I read this about this seed germinating tip in "From Seed to Skillet".

I know that stratification is needed by some seeds, but never thought to apply this particular technique to this group of plants. Last summer, I direct seeded some beets and had particularly poor germination. Spring has been particularly cold here and any jump I can get on germination so my seeds are not rotting in the dirt seems like a good thing to me. What Williams does with these lumpy, bumpy seeds is roll them with a rolling pin to crush the outer seed coat. I felt I would surely damage the gymnosperm within, but no.

Upon seeing them crack, I dusted them into a cup of warm water for an hour. Then I strained them through paper towel, folded up the seeds in the paper toweling, and placed them in a Ziploc bag.

Two days later, I could easily see the root panicle emerge and quickly sowed them in the ground in my potager. I also did spinach and placed them in individual cells for planting in the family garden. The spinach on my light rack have emerged from the soil in one day.

With the difficult spring we have had here in central Wisconsin anything a gardener can do to save growing time will be rewarded in your harvest.


  1. How did the beet method work? Any results to report yet? I'm having a terrible time with mine - probably less than 10% germination rate. I'm going to dig out the rolling pin.

  2. The tiny slightly crushed beets were soaked about a half hour in water and placed in damp paper towel and into a Ziploc. Within a day or so I could see nearly all germinated. About a day after that I planted them out carefully in my potager in rows. At this point they are about an inch all and the tops of the part in the ground are developing the golden color for which this gold beet is known.