Hi, I’m Tricia, and organic gardener. Starting plants from seed can be a lot of fun, however it can also be tough, because some plants have seeds that are hard to germinate. Today I’m going to give you some tips on how to germinate those tough seeds. Some seeds have characteristics that serve them well in the wild, but can be frustrating for the gardener. I’m talking about dormancy periods, tough seed coats, and even light requirements. There are few different things we can do to increase the chances of germination. Scarification, stratification and soaking. And all must be done with love in your heart! Scarification is used on seeds that have a tough outer shell, like nasturtium and morning glory. You can think of it as scarring the seed coat to allow in moisture and gases necessary for germination. If you’re using the file, you don’t want to scratch the seeds too much, just enough that the seeds are dulled and you can see the scratches. If you use the nail clippers, you want a definite knick in the seed coat. Another method of scarification is to put the seeds in very hot, but not boiling water. Put them in the water and then let the water cool down to room temperature, and then let them soak for another 12-24 hours. Plant the seeds immediately after soaking. Some seeds need what is called stratification. This process mimics the natural freeze and thaw cycles that some seeds require in order to germinate. Wildflowers and perennial flowers are often planted in the fall and they may stratify naturally. Or, you can ensure that this process happens with a few simple steps. To stratify the seed, we’re just gonna mix it with a little bit of moist, not wet, perlite, vermiculite, or builder’s sand. Mix the seed and medium in a plastic bag, you want 1 part seed to 3 parts medium. Place the bag in the refrigerator, not the freezer, for about 10 – 12 weeks, and check it every so often to make sure that the medium stays moist. After that period, take the bag out and plant the seeds along with the medium. Be gentle with the seeds, in case any have sprouted. There’s scarification, stratification and then there’s just plain old soaking of the seeds for about 12-24 hours in room temperature water. And seeds like beans, peas and okra benefit a lot from this soaking. Parsley is a special case. The seeds from parsley are actually coated naturally with a substance that retards germination. It really helps to soak the parsley seeds for 48 hours, and change the water twice. For some seeds, they don’t need soaking, they don’t need scarring, but the amount of light that they get while they’re germinating is important. For example, alyssum needs light to germinate, so it’s planted very shallow. On the other hand, fennel will not germinate unless it’s in total darkness, so you’ll plant it deeper. If you want to learn more about starting your own seeds, I recommend this book “The New Seed Starter Handbook.” So start your own seeds, and Grow Organic for Life!