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CHITTING SEEDS

Are you starting a small amount of rare or expensive seed and need to achieve the highest germination rate possible? Do you have a supply of older, likely low germination seed you would love to grow and enjoy one more year? Is your soil too cold to direct sow, yet now is the time to plant if your vision of a full season of mouthwatering vegetables, savory herbs, and plentiful flowers is to be seen?
There is a long proven method of starting seeds which will deliver maximum seed sprouting efficiency, save time because you only plant viable seeds, and will allow you to experience gardening success even when spring has not yet sprung. Chitting seeds solves your problems.
Also referred to as greensprouting, chitting is a method of starting the seed germination process before the seeds meet the soil. The word chit is from 17th Century dialect, meaning shoot or sprout. Chitting most commonly refers to potatoes, but the process is easily adapted to just about any type of seed. By providing moisture and warmth, you can get the first roots to emerge from a seed before planting it. Chitting can be especially useful if you have a small quantity of seeds, or if you have had the seeds for several years and are unsure of their viability, or if the weather is preventing ideal germination conditions in the garden. When chitting, you can provide near perfect conditions for your seeds to begin the germination process, and eliminate the disappointment of planting unviable seeds. This method also provides an opportunity for kids of all ages to witness in close detail the fascinating process of seed germination.
There are two ways of chitting, one involves a glass jar, and the other moist paper towels in a plastic bag.

Glass Jar Method:

Step 1:
Place your seeds in a glass jar and cover them generously with warm, not hot, water for 4 to 6 hours or so, but not more than 8 hours. Cover the jar with a couple of layers of cheesecloth, or a piece of window screen, and secure with a rubber band (or the lid ring if it is a canning jar).
Step 2:
After soaking, drain the water from the jar and rinse several times with warm water, and drain completely. You may notice that the seeds are swelling already at this point. Put the jar on its side in a warm place, (near the sink is convenient) and for the next several days, repeat the rinsing and draining process twice a day.
Step 3:
As soon as the first roots have emerged from the seed coats, carefully plant them into the garden or in pots, with the root pointing down whenever possible. The next best option is to have the root pointing to one side, just not pointing upwards. Please note that the root is very delicate, so cover them lightly with moist soil or seedling mix, then water in gently. If you are sowing the seeds outdoors and the weather is cool, don’t water them unless the soil is dry. You should notice the seed leaves popping up in just a few days.

Paper Towel Method:

Step 1:
Fold a paper towel into fourths, dip in warm water, loosely roll up and wring it out gently. Unroll and pull up two layers of the paper towel and place seeds inside with space between each. Fold the two top layers back on top of the seeds and place inside a plastic bag (a gallon zip lock bag works well. Don’t seal the bag – it is good if a little air can flow in and out.
Step 2:
Place the bag in a warm location (on top of the refrigerator is good, or on a seeding heat mat if you have one) Check daily for the first couple of days; after that, check twice a day. If the paper towel seems dry, mist with a spray bottle filled with lukewarm water.
Step 3:
As soon as the first roots have emerged from the seed coats, carefully plant them into the garden or in pots, with the root pointing down whenever possible. The next best option is to have the root pointing to one side, just not pointing upwards. Please note that the root is very delicate, so cover them lightly with moist soil or seedling mix, then water in gently. If you are sowing the seeds outdoors and the weather is cool, don’t water them unless the soil is dry. You should notice the seed leaves popping up in just a few days.