If you are direct seeding crops into raised beds, consider using the newspaper method to increase your germination rates.
This method is simple. Plant your seeds as instructed on the packet, gently water, and then cover those seeds with a single layer of newspaper. Use something small, but heavy to hold down the edges of the newspaper (we use river rock). Once the newspaper is held in place, gently soak the newspaper.
After these initial steps are done, we recommend re-moistening the newspaper twice a day. Begin peeking under the newspaper each day starting at day 3 (maybe later, if you are planting a crop that has a long germination period). You are peeking under to see if your seeds have started germinating. This is where it gets tricky. There are no hard and fast rules, just personal judgement. You want to leave the paper on long enough for a substantial portion of your seedlings to sprout, but not so long that those seedlings get smothered and killed by the paper. Once you feel that you have reached this point, remove the newspaper, and continue to moisten the soil as needed, to encourage the remaining seeds to germinate, and to water the new seedlings.
Here are some carrots that were germinated using the newspaper method. As you may know, carrots have notoriously poor germination rates.
- Newspaper helps to hold seeds in place, and protect them from birds and other animals.
- Newspaper also helps to retain warmth and moisture, keeping the seeds in an ideal environment for germination.
- Increased germination rate
- A bit extra work
- If you don’t monitor the seeds, the newspaper can smother the seedlings.