Cooking The Dirt: Sprouting Seeds Speedy Quick

26 Feb

Hello again from zone 7B (otherwise known as Atlanta). It’s a dreary day today. The thermostat displays 50 degrees.

It lies.

The wind is howling and without the sun, it feels like thirty. This means today is the perfect day to start seeds indoors. Regular visitors and followers of my blog know that I like to try new tricks that expedite the germination process. Sowing seeds indoors is a fast, easy way to get a jump on spring planting. Today’s tip falls in the “must-try” category.

TIP: Soaking seeds in Nelson’s Grow Best Plant food is the best way to give seeds a head start.

Soaking seeds in Nelson's Grow Best for five minutes is an excellent way to start your indoor seeds.

Soaking seeds in Nelson’s Grow Best for five minutes is an excellent way to start your indoor seeds.

Georgia residents can buy Nelson’s Grow Best from Home Depot using this link. Non-Georgia residents, purchase it here. This concentrated fertilizer is the best I’ve ever tried. One only needs to soak the seeds a few minutes to give them an added boost.

TIP Two: The fastest way to germinate seedlings is to heat the soil and then maintain a continual temperature. Seeds are smart. They won’t germinate in cold soil which is why you can trick them by warming up the dirt. Using a disposable pie plate (or pan like you cook the Thanksgiving turkey in) heat potting soil in the oven. Bake the soil for 5 minutes.

Yes Virginia, bake the soil . . . just not in your mom’s favorite casserole dish.

Pour dirt into a plastic box that you have lined with shredded newspaper.

TIP Three:

Shred newspaper (black and white color). Then add enough water to moisten.

Shred newspaper (black and white only…no color). Then add enough water to moisten.

Shredded newspaper (that is moistened) provides necessary moisture and encourages a strong root system. After adding warm soil on top of the newspaper, sprinkle seeds on top of the soil then, using your finger, press the seed firmly into the dirt. (no deeper than ½ inch).

Super Cheater TIP Four: Now this is a big one. Did you know the best way to maintain soil temperature (and trick your seeds into thinking it’s spring) is to place Christmas Tree lights on top of the soil? Don’t y’all go stealing this and blogging about it like you thought this up. This little Redneck idea is all mine.

After planting the seeds and making certain the soil is warm and toasty, I located a string of lights that only partially worked. I placed it on top of the dirt, covered the container with the lid and coiled the remaining lights in another container.


The lights generate a small amount of heat. When combined with the moisture from the newspaper I turn a recycled ice cream bucket into a mini-greenhouse. Since I didn’t have a lid for this bucket, I fabricated a lid using plastic wrap and secured it with a rubber band. Since the containers share one strand of lights I placed the bucket on top of the box. Once seedlings emerge I will remove the lids.

All together now let's sing. "I keep my Christmas Lights on...."

All together now let’s sing. “I keep my Christmas Lights on….”

Stay tuned to this blog, or better yet, subscribe. I’ll keep you posted on the seedlings. Until then, visit the Botanical Interests online Seed Catalog and place your order. And remember to visit the website for your fertilizer.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love * Tomatoes. In 2012 she released Stress-Free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author. 2014 will see the release of In the Kitchen with Billy: Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. She is currently working on her first novel. She would love to hear from you. Visit her at



Tags: , , , ,

4 responses to “Cooking The Dirt: Sprouting Seeds Speedy Quick

  1. Jennie Mayes

    February 26, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    Awesome tips! Question though, doesn’t baking the soil kill any of the beneficial bacteria and whatnot? Or is that the idea?

    • Renea

      February 26, 2013 at 5:04 pm

      Thank you Jennie for the comment and follow-up question. It is my experience that the low baking temperature and short baking time doesn’t “sterilize” the soil, merely heats it. You’ll know when the soil is done because it smells (like dirt of course). Please keep me posted on how your garden grows.

  2. Doe

    February 26, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    This is a really good one, Zip! You even motivated me – the one who waits until the very last, way too late, minute to start seed EVERY year. Great tips too! 😀

  3. Carolyn Herndon

    February 27, 2013 at 12:15 am

    I can’t wait to see how long it takes to grow plants.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: