I'm trying to germinate some basil and some catnip seeds. The basil is the regular, plain basil, like you'd purchase at any box store. I bought one of each of these plants in the spring of 2013 and put them in the garden. They did excellent. The catnip, especially, had to be cut back several times. At the end of the season I collected seeds from them.
Due to unforeseen circumstance, I wasn't able to plant a garden in 2014. It's now the first week in February 2015 and I'm trying to get some stuff started early. I can't seem to get my basil or catnip seeds to germinate. I collected them out of dried flower heads on both plant. I didn't think they were wet, but I let them dry a week before storing them in an air tight container with a small piece of paper towel to absorb any moisture.
I do that with most of my plants and I get the others to germinate with no problem. I can't seem to get these two to start, however. I've been using a wicking soda bottle to start them as it leaves the dirt lightly moist and doesn't compact it. I've had excellent success with other plants this way.
I read that basil needs to be warm, so I used a variation of the damp paper towel in a zip lock bag method. I took a roughly 1" cubed plastic container, put a piece of damp tissue paper at the bottom, placed the seeds on top, and put them in a warm dark place. I left them for 3 days before checking on them. I did the same with the catnip. They've not even started to germinate, but have started growing mold on some of the seeds.
All of my basil seeds, so far, have gotten that gel on the exterior of the shell, so I believe they're viable. The first ones, I probably planted too deep, at a .25". The ones in the plastic container should have been good. Now I've soaked some over night. I planted 2 seeds by pushing them into the dirt and barely covering them. The other three I just put on the surface an pressed in.
My room is the warmest in the house, but I can't say the temp doesn't dip. I can put the bottle in the warm draw, as the heat vents under the cabinets and keeps the drawers really warm.
I'm currently up to having used 15 basil seeds without one germinating. I'd love some help. Thank you.
Edit (2/25/2015): I have done cold stratification on the catnip and basil seeds. I put 5 seeds of each in 3 ziplock bags and I've put one in the fridge and two in the freezer. I meant to pull one bag of each out after a week and then pull the freezer bag out after a month, but my calendar didn't alert me properly and I removed them on 2/23/2015 after putting them in on 2/5/2015. I've planted them in a wicking waterer, under a 100w equivalent bulb in a warm room. I'll report back on germination, if any, at a later date.