I'm new to home gardening. I just bought Sustainable Seed Company's Herb Collection (Basil, Chives, Cilantro, Dill, Lavender, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme) and Mountain Valley Seed Company's Leafy Green Collection (Kale, Lettuce, Arugula, Chard, Spinach). The herb planting guide that comes with the seeds recommends the paper towel method to test the germination of the seeds. It also says,

"[Seeds] are widely variable. For example, lettuce need a temperature between 65-80°F and a good quantity of light to germinate, while peppers or other warm season crops need temperatures between 75-85°F or higher to germinate, and squash, melons, and cucumbers like the paper towel to be a little drier. Do a little research on the crop and the ideal germination conditions before starting."

As I understand, the germination conditions they're referring to are: moisture, temperature, lighting, and airflow. Am I missing any? Does pH or other properties of the water impact germination?

Is there a table or other resource, where I can look up all these "ideal germination conditions"? The seed packets themselves give some - but not all - of this information. I'm a scientist by training, and I'd like to minimize the time it takes to germinate these seeds.


Most seeds will do fine in fresh potting soil, I never use paper towels for germination of small herbs or vegetables. However, like you mention many factors are important for successful germination, if you read the instructions on the labels it will usually be fine. Especially sowing on the right time is important, this will give you automatically the right amount of light (length and intensity), the right temperature, etc.

I start often indoors already with germination in small pots (or germination box) with fresh soil. Like in February for instance, then in April/May they are ready to be planted outside.

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