Pumpkin Seed Germination

Right. So after warming the peat pots overnight, I was ready to plant my seeds indoors last Friday. I have 200+ seeds from last year’s pumpkin and selected eight. I’ve read that the size, shape, and color of a seed doesn’t matter as long as it’s dry and clean and uncracked, but I picked some nice round fat ones anyway. I gave them the bounce test: if you drop a seed onto a tabletop, it ought to bounce back up. Otherwise they’re kaput. (The bounce doesn’t need to be dramatic. It’s simply a way of weeding out any totally pitiful seeds.)

Side note: last year’s seeds were carefully cleaned, dried, baggied, ziplocked, and stored in a cool, dark box over the winter.

Now a giant pumpkin seed’s shell is often thick, and you want the moisture getting in for germination as quickly as possible; the longer they’re damp in the dirt, the better chance they have of rotting. Two things help: pre-soaking and filing. I began by soaking the seeds for an hour in a quart of warm water mixed with a pinch of humic acid and a tablespoon of fish/seaweed emulsion:

Then I filed the edges of the seeds just enough to thin the outer layer. Never file at the pointy end of a seed, where the embryo is vulnerable. The filed edges allow moisture to penetrate more easily, and it also helps the shell crack off once the seedlings have emerged.

I planted the seeds point-down in the peat pots, which I prepared the previous day. Seeds were planted .5 inches beneath the surface.

The warmth and moisture in the baggie-covered pots led to fine white mold in the first 24 hours, so I removed the baggies and scraped the mold off the surface with a spoon. I haven’t had a problem with it since.

After 72 hours, seeds began to emerge. On Tuesday morning, they were up enough for me to carefully remove the shells. It was an unseasonably warm and sunny day, and the plants were able to get a few hours of sunlight at the window. This morning, all eight are up and looking good.

The first leaves are called cots or cotyledons. They store the early plant’s food reserves and begin photosynthesis. They’re often pale at first but quickly turn a bright, healthy green after receiving sufficient light. They eventually wither away once the true leaves develop.

I’ll be putting the plants under bright fluorescent light today, where they’ll remain (except on days when I can get them a few hours of sun) until they outgrow the pots and I’m ready to transplant the most promising plants into the patch. Here they are, five days after planting:

Previously: Pumpkin Seed-Planting Prep

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