The Days are Getting Longer -- Time to Think about Seed Viability
by Cecile Garrison

I have been cutting open my best gourds to get the seeds. If the embryo inside the seed is white, stiff and firm they are good candidates for the oven. It is time to torment Ernie and leave the oven light on at least a week!

Seed germination is covered in detail on pages 50-51 of the Spring, 2014 issue. You will need paper towels, baggies or plastic bags, a mister, cookie sheet, Peat Pots, soilless seed starting mix, heat mats, grow lights, and plastic trays or covers.

Be sure you label the seeds and place in wet paper towels inside a baggie on a cookie sheet. Place them in a regular oven with the light on (no heat) and door closed. I use a meat thermometer and keep the temperature between eighty-five and ninety. I open the door a crack if necessary. A viable seed will germinate in three to seven days.

Check daily and add water as necessary to keep the paper towels moist but not soggy! When germination is complete place the seed in a peat pot with warm, moist seedling mix and put under fluorescent shop lights on heat mats. I keep the lights three inches above the plants as they grow. The plants will get leggy and weak without the artificial lights. Insects and diseases love weak, leggy plants! Start this germinating process no more than four to six weeks before the last expected frost date for your zone. If you start too early you will have rambunctious plants taking over your indoor space. The objective is strong, healthy plants to set into the garden when the soil temperature is at least 65 degrees.