Most often I start my seeds in a mix of coconut coir and perlite in seeding cells or small containers, though there are occasions when it may be better to start your seeds in a simple paper towel.
Before going into the benefits first lets go over the technique:
- Get a paper towel, napkin, or coffee filter and spray with water so it is moist (not soaking wet or the seeds could rot)
- Add a few seeds and folder over the paper to cover them.
- Place the paper and seeds into a zip lock bag (I like to use the snack sized ones) and place in a warm location (top or refrigerator, water hearer, etc)
- Check every day or so do see if seedlings have emerged and water as needed
- When seedlings emerge very carefully place the strongest seedlings into dirt cups.
- Instead of trying to remove the seeds from the paper, you can simply cut around the seedling and plant both into the ground. The paper will eventually erode away without affecting the seedling.
- You can also use this technique to plant the seedling right into the ground.
This technique is great for many reasons:
- Allows for faster germination rates and times
- Great if you have limited space for seedlings (stack of zip lock bags take up much less space than 40/50 seed cells)
- More consistent moisture
- Less dirt on your counters
- Great option for rare, poor germination rates and/or very slow germinating times (think hot peppers with 3-4 weeks germination delays) With this method you can keep close tabs on the progress and know after a week or two if you need to start some more (or buy some new seeds)
For the home grower this is a great space saving technique and due to the water retention in the bags it is nearly impossible to lose seedlings due to lack of watering.