Seed-starting problem

Jane B
by Jane B
I tried starting tomato and cucumber seeds via the paper towel method (spray paper towel with water, sprinkle seeds, cover with another wet paper towel, put in ziplock bag), but no sprouting. Then four days later I realized I'd sprayed the paper towels with vinegar rather than water (both in plastic bottles). Put seeds on new paper towels, reinserted in bag, but nearly two weeks later, still no sprouting. Did the vinegar kill the seeds? Should I try planting the seeds in temporary containers to see if they'll sprout, or just start over with new seeds?
  6 answers
  • 3po3 3po3 on Apr 03, 2012
    I would start new seeds if I were you. Whether it was the vinegar or not, it seems like these seeds are not having luck. You could always just throw them in the seedling starter packs with your other seeds. If everything sprouts, you can always separate them later.

  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Apr 04, 2012
    Are these seeds you had saved yourself? Is there some reason you doubted their viability and were testing them via the paper towel and bag method? I agree with Steve that you should start over with new seeds. And you might try sowing directly in small pots with a good starter mix, making sure that they are in a warm place with good direct light.

  • Jane B Jane B on Apr 06, 2012
    Douglas, I'm a newbie to gardening and had read about the plastic bag method on a homesteading website. I'm going to take your and Steve's advice to start over with new seeds and good starter mix. Thanks to both of you for helpng me!

  • 3po3 3po3 on Apr 06, 2012
    Good luck - and remember there is no shame in buying starter plants. I have never successfully grown a decent crop of veggies from seeds. To help make sure you don't miss out on the homegrown veggies this summer, I recommend buying some plants as well. They are still a pretty good deal overall, especially if you look for plant sales at local colleges, garden clubs, city greenhouses, etc.

  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Apr 07, 2012
    Good luck, Jane. Hope you have a bountiful summer.

  • Gary Stenzel Gary Stenzel on Dec 10, 2015
    Nothing wrong with your seed starting method except you dont need wet paper over your seeds. That makes them a little too wet and encourages mold growth. I would start with new seeds though, they are probably dead from the vinegar. I put a paper towel into the bag dry, then wet it sparingly (no puddles). Then put your seeds on the paper towel. Zip the bag mostly closed then blow a little puff of air into the bag so the top plastic doesnt rest on the seeds then zip it closed. grab an edge of the bag and slide it off of the counter onto your hand then put it somewhere warm. You should have seedlings in less than a week, usually about 3 or 4 days. When mold grows, it starts under the surface. When the mold "roots" get well established then it sends up the fruiting part that you can see. By the time you can "see" the mold it has pretty much already ruined your seeds.