Soak or not to Soaks seeds before planting?
That is the question, would say Shekspere if he would be a farmer. Many growers ask if it's essential to soak all the microgreens seeds before sowing. Today, we're here to demystify the soaking process and help you make the best decision for your microgreens.
Of course, the answer is not as straightforward as it seems. There are various varieties of microgreens, and each has its unique requirements for sprouting.
Some seeds benefit from soaking, while others may suffer if you put them in water before planting. In this article, we'll explore the reasons for soaking seeds, which varieties need soaking, and those that absolutely shouldn't be soaked.
Table of Contents:
- Why Soak Microgreens Seeds?
- Which Seeds Need to be Soaked?
- Seeds that Shouldn't be Soaked
- How to Soak Microgreens Seeds
- Answers to Common Questions
Why to soak microgreens seeds?
Soaking microgreens seeds serves as a crucial step in the germination process, offering several advantages that contribute to successful growth.
Each microgreens seed contains an endosperm, a vital storage layer responsible for providing energy and nutrients during germination. The endosperm accumulates reserve materials that provide energy and nutrients for the developing embryo.
In larger and drier seeds, this endosperm is a big part of the seed itself, and soaking helps stimulate its release of essential resources, kickstarting the sprouting process. By hydrating the seeds before sowing, growers can significantly improve the germination rates and overall growth of microgreens. This simple yet effective technique ensures that the seeds have the best possible start, setting the stage for healthy and thriving microgreens ready to be harvested and enjoyed.
What varieties of microgreens do I need to soak?
Certain microgreens seeds greatly benefit from the soaking process to ensure optimal germination and successful growth. These "bigger" seeds, such as Sunflower, Lupine, Beet, Nasturtiums, and Pea, have relatively larger endosperms, which store crucial reserves of energy and nutrients for the seedlings.
Soaking these seeds for a recommended time of 6-10 hours (maximum 24 hours) encourages the release of these vital resources, giving the seeds a head start in their journey to becoming vibrant and healthy microgreens.
By providing the right conditions for these seeds to sprout, growers can increase their chances of achieving higher germination ratios and ultimately, a bountiful harvest of delicious and nutritious microgreens.
To sum up You should soak all the "bigger" seeds, but there are some exceptions. Below you have small cheat sheet where you can check which seeds needs to be soaked and for how long, bon apetit:
- Chickpea: 8-24 h,
- Fava bean: 8-24 h,
- Melon: up to 2 h,
- Mung Bean: up to 8 h,
- Pea: 8-12 hours,
- Sunflower: up to 6 h,
- Lentis Red: 3-6 h,
- Lupine: 8-12 hours,
- Nasturtiums: up to 6 h,
- WheatGrass: up to 6 h.
What varieties are not allowed to be soaked?
On the other hand, some microgreens seeds should never be soaked as it may lead to unfavorable outcomes for their growth.
These seeds, typically around or smaller than 3mm, possess tiny endosperms that do not require pre-soaking. Soaking such seeds could potentially result in mold formation and hinder their sprouting process.
Examples of microgreens seeds that should not be soaked include Amaranth, Radishes, Cabbage, Turnip, Kale, Arugula, Broccoli, and others of similar size.
These seeds are naturally equipped to release their energy and nutrients upon contact with a hydrated substrate, making soaking unnecessary and even detrimental to their overall development. By refraining from soaking these seeds, growers can avoid potential issues and ensure a successful and thriving microgreens crop.
In some sources you may read that every seed can be soaked. We do not agree with that. Soaking in some cases may cause molding.
Quick recap: don't soak microgreens varieties with seeds smaller than 3mm. These are:
- Pak Choi,
- Kale, etc.
How to Soak Microgreens Seeds?
Soaking microgreens seeds is a simple process. Follow these steps for successful soaking:
- Take a clean container and fill it with tap water at room temperature. Avoid using hot water, as it may harm the seeds.
- PRO TIP: sometimes we or our clients use warm but not hot water.
- Add the seeds to the water. Make sure not to overcrowd the container to allow each seed enough space to soak properly.
- Let the seeds soak for 6-10 hours (max 24 hours) depending on the seed variety.
- You can mix them with your hand in between the hours to be sure that each seed has its own space.
- After soaking, drain the water and rinse (optionaly) the seeds thoroughly before sowing.
Tips for Soaking Seeds Before Planting
- Always follow the recommended soaking time for each seed type to avoid oversoaking.
- If you are an experienced farmer you can experiment with the soaking time.
- Use clean and chlorine-free water for soaking to prevent any harmful effects on the seeds.
- If you notice any seeds floating on top during soaking, discard them as they might be non-viable.
- Use a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to rinse the soaked seeds effectively.
- Don't let the seeds dry out after soaking; make sure to plant them promptly.
Common questions part:
What soaking does to the seeds?
There are many varieties of microgreens, some of them need to be soaked to sprout properly, some of them shouldn't - it kills their sprouting ratio. There is also a variety that can be soaked but it's not obligatory.
What will happen if I do not soak the seeds?
If you do not soak the seeds that should be soaked- they may sprout slower, and sprouting ratio may be lower.
How long to soak microgreens seeds?
Short answer: Average time of soaking is 6-10h. Maximum 24 hours. Always check the soaking time with the producer.
Longer answer: The ideal soaking time for microgreens seeds typically ranges from 6 to 10 hours, with a maximum limit of 24 hours. Soaking seeds for this duration allows them to absorb enough water to trigger the germination process without risking over soaking, which can be detrimental to their viability. It's essential to be mindful of the soaking time and avoid exceeding the maximum limit of 24 hours, as prolonged soaking may lead to drowning of the seeds and negatively impact their ability to sprout successfully. By adhering to the recommended soaking time, growers can give their microgreens seeds the best chance for optimal germination and healthy growth.
What will happen if I over soak seeds?
Seeds can be drowned, and "picked" and smelly. If seeds are oversoaked, they can suffer adverse consequences that impede their ability to germinate and grow into healthy microgreens. Excessive soaking can lead to drowning of the seeds, as they absorb too much water, depriving them of the necessary oxygen for germination.
As a result, the seeds may become waterlogged and fail to sprout. Moreover, the prolonged exposure to water can cause the seeds to become "picked" or disintegrate, further diminishing their viability or even kill them.
Additionally, over soaking can lead to a foul smell emanating from the seeds, indicating potential decay or rot. To ensure successful germination, it is essential to adhere to the recommended soaking time and avoid over soaking, as it can negatively impact the overall growth and quality of the microgreens.
What is endosperm in seeds?
Endosperm is a storage layer, used during germination as a source of building materials for seedling growth. In big and dry seeds, the endosperm is a big part of the seed that needs encouragement to release the energy- we can help them to wake up with water.
What kind of water to use?
Use tap water at room temperature or warm water eventually. When you use too hot water you can kill the seeds.
In conclusion, soaking microgreens seeds can be beneficial for certain varieties, while it can be detrimental to others. By understanding the specific requirements of each seed type, you can ensure a successful and bountiful microgreens harvest.