If you want to get a jump start on the growing season by a few days, try pre-germinating your seeds. This is a fairly simple, completely natural process that requires very little effort and just a few resources.
Why Pre-Germinate Seeds
If you live in cooler climates, you can plant pre-germinated seeds in soil temperatures that are too cool otherwise to germinate seeds. Note: you may need to warm the soil before planting seedlings with plastic or cloches.
Pre-germinating seeds also lets you test which seeds will sprout and increase success rates. If you have old seeds you’re unsure of, or working with seeds that don’t always sprout, pre-germinate to save time instead of planting them in soil and seeds not sprouting.
Other factors that can impact successful seed germination are: planting incorrectly, low seed vigor, slow germination rates, poor soil, weather conditions including drought, heavy rains and cold snaps, wireworms, pests and wildlife.
How to Pre-Germinate Seeds
All you have to do is spread your seeds out on damp paper towels, then slide those paper towels in open plastic bags. This allows some airflow while retaining the moisture.
Keep an eye on the roots as the seeds germinate; by the time they reach about 3 millimeters long (about one-eighth of an inch), the seeds are ready to sow.
Want to learn more about pre-germinating seeds?
Use Fluid Seeding To Start Vegetable Seeds Early from Denver County Cooperative Extension
Poor Germination – Vegetable Seedlings and Transplants from University of Maryland Extension
Seed Life Chart: How Long will Seeds Last