Germination of seeds is the development of a seed from its original form into a plant or tree. Some seeds germinate very quickly, while others have a long germination process. But no matter what type of seed you will be planting, you must allow time for germination to have a successful planting.
Various conditions need to be met for a seed to germinate. The most important is the quality of the seeds themselves. Always choose fresh seeds, and store any leftover seeds properly. Garden seeds often have a short, one- to two-year shelf life, and some seeds, particularly flower seeds, may need to be planted soon after harvesting. Gardening Central explains that "seeds for vegetables, such as corn, onions and peppers, will often not germinate if they are more than 2 years old, while bean seeds, carrot and tomato seeds and seeds of the cabbage family have a shelf life of three to four years. With most melon seeds, cucumbers and lettuce, the germination process will be successful to six years after the seeds were harvested if kept under the right conditions."
Other factors that affect seed germination include soil, moisture and lighting. Soil should have adequate nutrients, and the seeds should be watered just after planting. During the germination process, continue watering the seeds, but do not overwater. For most vegetable seeds, lighting is needed for the seeds to germinate; however, for some seeds, such as pansies, light is not needed for germination.
An important factor in seed germination is planting depth. According to Plantcare.com, "One common mistake that leads to seeds not germinating is planting too deep. When this happens, flower seeds will not have enough stored energy to reach the soil surface." In most cases, the larger the seed, the deeper it should planted in the soil. If in doubt, follow the instructions for depth provided on the back of the seed packet.
Every gardener will experience failed seed germination at one time or another. There are many reasons this can occur, such as seed age and inadequate conditions. For best results, follow the instructions on the seed's packet, giving the seed everything it needs to grow, and allow time for germination. For seeds that do not germinate, you will need to replant a new seed and allow the process to begin again.