Successful Vegetable Seed Sowing and Germination

Growing plants from seeds is a much cheaper proposition than buying plants and results in the acquisition of a multitude of saplings which can then be shared with other plant lovers. It is not a difficult task and with a little attention and care will reward the grower with healthy and viable plants.


  • Seeds – Good quality seeds should be used. Check the viability of seed. It should be fresh i.e. one season old.
  • Containers for sowing seeds –  Shallow pots with drainage holes.
  • Growing medium – A good soil mix.
  • Coverings – Plastic sheets or newspaper to cover the container.
  • Sprayer – Watering should be done by using a sprayer to minimise dislodging seeds and saplings.


  • Seeds with hard shells should be soaked in water for 12 hrs before sowing to ease germination. Examples of such seeds are peas, corn, squash and okra.
  • Seeds which are small and  light can be sown directly without soaking. Examples of these are broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower,  onion, turnip and all leafy vegetables.
  • Check the expiry date of seeds on the packet. Seeds which are old will take more time to germinate or may not do so at all.
  • Check the viability of seeds especially old ones by performing the seed floating test. Place seeds in a glass filled with water for 30 minutes.  Poor seeds will float on the surface and the good seeds will sink to the bottom.


70% cocopeat  and 30%compost (leaf compost, gobar khad or vermicompost can be used).

To this add a small amount of  organic fungicide such as cinnamon powder.


  • Take a shallow pot with proper drainage holes. Add broken clay pot pieces (thikra) and a small amount of well rotted cowdung  manure. Then add the growing medium leaving a gap of a couple of inches from the top of the pot.
  • Sprinkle water with a sprayer to moisten the soil evenly.
  • There are two methods of sowing seeds:
    1. The broadcasting method – Spread seeds evenly and then cover  with a thin layer of soil.This is best for small, light seeds like those  of leafy vegetables.
    2. The dibbling method – Make a  hole a ¼ inch deep  in the soil and place a seed in each hole. Cover with the soil mix. This is preferred for larger seeds such as  sweet corn , squash etc.
  • Cover the pot with a newspaper and water above the newspaper gently with a sprayer. Alternatively cover the pot  with a plastic sheet after watering.
  • Keep the soil mix moist ,warm and in the dark for 2-3 days. Once germination starts uncover in the evening maintaining the warmth and humidity by  covering during the day time to protect from the sun.
  • After the first set of true leaves appear (usually after 1 week) move the pot to where it will get  1 hr of sunlight. The next day allow 2 hrs of sunlight. In this way gradually increase the amount of sunlight the saplings receive.

The Broadcasting Method

The Dibbling Method


When the second set of true leaves develop ( approximately 21-25 days) repot in small bags or pots. Always take care to transplant  in a shaded area. Once the sapling has established itself feed with a light liquid fertiliser. Move the sapling to where it can receive a full day of sunlight.

After 45 days transplant into  the final big pot.


  • Always label properly while planting to avoid confusion.
  • Water moderately by spraying. Don’t water with pressure.
  • If the soil is too wet the seeds might rot. Always have a moist, but not overly wet soil.
  • If the soil gets too dry then seeds will not germinate, so ensure adequate watering.
  • Seed germination requires warmth, so place the pot where it can get the required warmth. The top of a refrigerator is often a good place for the germination of seeds as it is warm and out of direct light.

��� Happy Farming ���