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As I write this, there are still nineteen days until winter actually begins. It will be another two to three months before I can start my indoor seedlings. It's hard waiting.
One thing I can do while I'm waiting is test my seeds for viability. This will reduce the chances of disappointment when I start my seedlings, later on. I keep seeds for as long as fifteen years. After that time, some will still have a high germ rate. Others will be completely dead. Testing ten seeds in a cup will tell me whether to allow an area in the garden for the whole lot of seed.
It's important to be informed as to the germination requirements of different seeds. You can find this information on the Internet. You will want to know the average time it takes for the seeds to germinate. Don't discard ungerminated seeds til you're sure they have been given sufficient time. Some seeds will germinate in as little as 24 hours, some will take up to a full year or more.
Some seeds require light for germination. In this case, the seeds would be just barely covered with soil, or not at all, just lightly pressed into the soil. Other seeds require darkness for germination and should be kept in darkness til sprouted.
Some seeds, probably most, require an average temperature of around seventy degrees for proper germination. Some require a higher temperature and some as low as forty degrees. There are even seeds that will not germinate until they have been through the heat of a forest fire.
So you see, with different seeds having different requirements for germination, it's best to take a few minutes to inform yourself as to the needs of each. You'll know what to expect when starting your seeds indoors or out, and the testing will give you a chance to do a wee bit of growing, mid winter.
Some time back, I was reading several entries with suggestions for getting moonflower vine seeds to germinate. Some suggested soaking the seeds. Others suggested nicking the seeds. Some suggested both. I've never had to do either, and still have germination in as little as five days.
As a matter of fact, I saved seeds from plants which grew from seeds that germinated in five days. I promised here, to let readers know what happened when I planted those seeds. The results are pictured below. Believe it or not, the parent seeds germinated in five days, and their progeny, the ones pictured, germinated in forty-eight hours.
I don't treat these seeds differently from any others. When I find why I have such good luck with germinating moonflower vine seed, I'll be sure to post that, too.