Two readers share their innovative approaches to seed testing and seed planting.
Seed testing isn't mandatory, but if you've saved any from the previous year's harvest it will give you a sense of their potency.
PHOTO: MARILYN BARBONE/FOTOLIA
I save the seeds from my best-producing vegetables, but — come spring — I like to make sure they're going to germinate. That’s why I’ve developed my own method of seed testing. First, I count out about 40 seeds of each type of plant and scatter each group between several layers of wet newspaper. I then make these into little packets that I fold up in plastic wrap. After a week, the good seeds will have germinated. I estimate the percentage of good seeds to "bad" in each group, and, for example, if only half the seeds in a packet have sprouted, I plant that type of seed twice as thick as I normally would.
To plant the tiny seeds of lettuce, dill, carrots and such, I sprinkle them on a cookie sheet and take them out to the garden along with a supply of wet, 12-inch pieces of cotton string (kite string is great). I pull each string through the seeds; they stick to the strings, which I then just lay in the garden and cover over with a little soil. It's easy to plant straight rows, and it saves on seed too.