soak seeds prior to planting, or not?

eaglesgarden(6b - se PA)March 2, 2009

Last year I soaked my bean seeds in a kelp solution before planting and they sprouted in about 2 days.

I have never grown peas before and I am going to be planting my first peas fairly soon (after the stinking snow melts!!!). Should I soak the peas in the kelp solution as I have done with the beans to good success, or should I just plant them and water in?

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I am traditional. I just sow them and let natural rain do the rest. Soil rarely dries out enough to be a problem in spring. Summer, supplemental water may be necessary for some crops.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 4:12PM
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I never pre-soak beans, and always pre-soak peas (24 hrs).


    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 2:18PM
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eaglesgarden(6b - se PA)

In water or kelp solution?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 4:53PM
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Well, why not "chit" them. I mean, soak them for a few day's until a root begins to form. At least that way, their first days of growth will be free of bugs, fungus, birds and harsh temperatures. I think this is more often done with peas because peas are grown in cool weather where the sprout very slowly and are prone to rot. Beans are usually planted in warmer weather, but why not get a little jump by chitting them indoors.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 5:05PM
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It depends. It is best to let the seed decide when it is ready. The plants will then be more vigorous and productive. Farmerdilla lives in SC and has a long season. Here in MI you do not see peas until the Fourth of July weekend (when hot weather starts, making the peas season real short) and soaking them before planting gives you potentially useful extra days. Most beans make it to fruition here, and so there is no need to soak them. Farther north of here, one may be tempted to soak both peas and beans.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 7:20PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Never found the need to pre-soak peas, or most beans, except under certain circumstances. It depends, I suppose, on how early you want to plant them... the best benefit of pre-soaking is improved emergence in cooler soil. With proper soil temperatures, soaking is unnecessary.

However, since I am in Wisconsin & grow plants for seed, I do start limas, yardlongs, and some pole beans as transplants. I do this for many of the same reasons as soaking, to get a jump on the season, and to make every seed count. For pole beans, this is cost-effective, since the yield per plant is so high. I would not recommend it for bush beans or peas.

There is one time when almost any legume can benefit from soaking - when the seed is nearly dead. This could be from excessive age, or improper storage.

If the seed can't be replaced, you can attempt to revive it with a nitrate soak, of one teaspoon of MG (or any high-nitrate liquid fertilizer) per gallon of sterile water. The seed should be planted in a sterile medium, soaked in this solution for 24 hours, and the excess solution poured off. This method has been highly successful for me & several others on this forum, you can read more detail in the thread below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Need ideas to germinate old old beans

    Bookmark   March 8, 2009 at 11:32PM
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To Soak or not to soak?

No doubt that soaking helps to germinate much faster.
This is true mostly about larger and harder seeds like
beans, peas, cucorbitas,and similar. But in the nature
nobody soaks them and they grow.Impatient gardner, like me, want quicker results. Thy get frustrated wating for weeks to see them little buggers to stick their heads out.
I just sowed some japanes lanter seeds. On the package it said that it will take 20 to 30 days to germinate. To me it is like eternity. LOL>
So I soak big seeds for a day or two and then sow them.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 12:20AM
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Soaking in warm water definitely speeds things up. Also bad seeds often float, so you'll get more reliable germination after removing the floaters.

Soaking seed also only takes about 20 more seconds than using them directly, and if that saves a week of germination time that's well worth it! Not to mention once you start soaking them you can't procrastinate planting them. ;) I have peas soaking right now, going in tomorrow.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 1:26AM
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I soak peas, beans, squash, and cucumber seeds, mainly because here in Texas we can't count on enough spring rain to hydrate seeds enough to sprout. I just put them in tepid water overnight, and plant the next day. I use rainwater, not tap water, but don't add anything to it. I get good germination.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 10:13AM
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I always assumed that soaking beans would ruin them because when soaking beans to cook, they sometimes split open. I did soak the wrinkled English peas until they puffed up to see if I could get them to come up quicker and that worked out well. Once the seeds are soaked, you have to plant.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2009 at 2:47PM
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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

Like tcstoehr, I go beyond soaking to several days of sprouting until the root starts to emerge. This just requires rinsing and draining the seeds several times a day. I did an experiment this year with fava beans. I planted some without soaking and sprouted a second batch starting 3 days later. I planted the sprouted seeds and dug up a few of the previously planted seeds. They had swelled up but none had sprouted yet. It is a cold soil situation, so it is definitely worthwhile here. Soil here is not that warm even in May and June so I soak and sprout beans too.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 1:10AM
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Here in the northwest, chitting of peas, beans and corn seed makes for an earlier crop and more even fill in the rows. And as Hemnancy said, even in June the soil is not all that warm here. If pole beans are not in by mid-June, forget it. Many varieties really need to be in by about June 1 for seed saving.

I have recently been experimenting with soaking beans using seed that that is in abundant supply so as to not risk damaging seed in short supply. In jars with cheesecloth covers, several kinds of beans were soaked in tepid well water for six hours. The water was then poured off and the seeds were rinsed a couple times a day with some misting in between. The seeds were planted once they had visible roots.

Results were good. "Snowcap" is a bean that has a fairly small seed but it swells to a huge size as it sprouts. Even that one did fine with this method.

Some beans were given Zeedman's peat pot treatment for an even better shot at dry seed.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2009 at 11:10AM
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I live in Spain. I soak beans but not peas. I find runner beans do so much better (and really speeds things up) when I soak them first. 12 hours in water, then drain and leave for 12 hours, then keep repeating the process until they split their skins and start showing a root. It normally only takes 2 or 3 days and then I plant out.

I find my peas seem to germinate really quickly on their own with no soaking needed.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 9:05AM
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anney(Georgia 8)

Since I have enough time to plant by soil temps, I soak either one only if the soil is dry and no rain is forecast any time soon. Then I water the planting as well. However one does it, it's critical to keep the soil moist enough that the plants can break through the surface layer. In the clay soil here, the soil surface can form an impenetrable crust even if the soil is moist under it. The trick is to not keep the soil WET. (Others may not have this condition to watch.)

Interesting that soaking may enable the seeds to germinate in cooler soil. Also interesting is that the plants, once germinated, often grow quite well in temps that are cool, but they won't germinate easily in soil that's equally cool!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 9:26AM
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Anney, for me the issue is that the only way that I can be sure of keeping bean seeds at 65 degrees or more in late May is to keep them indoors until they are fully sprouted. Once sprouted they appear to be more tolerant of cool soil.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 9:28AM
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