A popular method of sprouting seeds is to soak them in water overnight. The next day they are ready to be planted. With inexpensive seeds, they should be planted 3 per hole or propagation cube/pellet. This allows the gardener the chance to pick the healthiest sprout if multiple grow, or helps to ensure at least one sprout per hole. More expensive seeds should be limited to one per hole. Seeds started indoors are often grown in a propagation tray using either Rockwool cubes or Peat pellets which are both pre-moistened and ready to accept the seed. The tray is often covered with a propagation dome which will create a miniature greenhouse environment with adequate humidity. Some gardeners employ the use of heat mats beneath their propagation trays to speed up propagation and improve success rates. Other gardeners simply place the tray in a warm location.
Any grow light can be used to propagate seedlings, however, fluorescents are the most popular. Natural sunlight is also acceptable for propagating seeds both indoors and outdoors. Seedlings should not be allowed to dry out or they will perish. Seedling which are kept too soggy will often experience damping off (rotting at the base of the stem) so overwatering is no good either. Propagation medium should be moist, but not soggy for best results. Once roots emerge from the bottom of the propagation medium, seedlings are ready to be transplanted into larger containers and hardened off to the less humid environment. It is best to gradually introduce your seedlings to the lower humidity environment by gradually opening the vents on the propagation dome.
Some gardeners like to do what is called “the paper towel method” in which they will soak their seed overnight and then place it between several layers of moistened paper towel. This moist paper towel is then placed on a piece of Saran Wrap and wrapped up to maintain its moisture levels. Next the wrapped paper towel is placed in a warm dark place for a day or two and then examined periodically to determine whether the seeds have sprouted. Once the seeds have sprouted they are to be transplanted root tip down into some growing medium and then watered thoroughly. Some gardeners feel this method is an advantage because it allows them to know exactly which seeds are sprouting and which are not, as opposed to planting all your seed and wondering if they will sprout or not. This method works well for medium to large seed such as apple seed, and less well for small seed such as lettuce seed.