septic way sowing

For years as most of us I had sanitary problems stratifying and sowing. Damp stratification is not easy to manage as funghi often interfere. From beneficial to definitely harmfull. With chemicals or not.

Sowing sterile seeds in a sterile medium without sterile environment is a combat. One that is allways lost.

The uninvited funghi allways interfere. And many harmfull ones. Able to ruin our work.

As I grow more than 20000 seedlings yearly I am allways looking for safety and efficience. To the point I questioned if sterilizing is the answer or the problem.

In a natural environment there are a lot of microorganisms that compete and cooperate. An healthy environment is one where the potentially harmfull ones if present are naturally tamed.

We humans beings absolutely necessitate the assistance of many different friendly microorganisms to be healthy. Following some sources said microorganisms are ten times more numerous than our body cells. And many thousandfold more diverse. Why not rose seedlings.

Sterilizing clearly favor unwanted funghi.

So that I began years ago to clean and no longer to sterilize. Separating seeds from hips is completed by a three days soaking in order to degrade dirt and grow favorable microorganisms. Jars and sieves cleaning is no more than rinsing as I favor microorganisms buildup.

Then seeds are slowly dried in a never sterilized environment and wait early january sowing to grow in a cold greenhouse. There they germinate standing naturally varied winter to spring temps.

Watering and drainage are my main concerns. No longer sanitation.

Not so unconventional as here is a text I found on line:

“Most achenes of rose species do not germinate in the first year, even in good germination conditions. There are various methods for breaking dormancy, one of which is described here. … Achenes should be stratified directly after harvest. After a warm stratification (10-12 weeks, 20-25 deg. C) in a sand and vermiculite mixture with the addition of compost starter followed by cold stratification (10-12 weeks, 4 deg. C), up to 95% achenes of of most rose species germinated within 6 months. Hybrid seed can be successfully germinated by the same treatment. Spethmann and Feuerhahn B. 2003. “Species Crosses”. Encyclopedia of Rose Science: 299-312”

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Pierre, thanks for the advice here!

Pierre, what do you use as a germination medium, and what is your watering regime?

Hi Pierre. thanks for posting this, its nice to know what methods others use.

You wrote:

“Then seeds are slowly dried in a never sterilized environment and wait early january sowing to grow in a cold greenhouse.”

How do you dry the seeds? I always read that you should never let your seeds dry out and that they should stay moist. And what do you mean by “never sterilized”? I keep my seeds in the frig after I clean them and I would say that it is a sterilized place, well at least I try to keep it as clean as possible. Where do you keep your seeds?


How do you dry the seeds?

After soaking I let them stay in the colander for a day then dry them on news paper. This in order to store them at room temp for a month to three as I do not stratificate before sowing. Stratification needs a lot of attention and is not suitable when you want to sow all seed lots at the same time.

Generally septic way sowing works fine for small to medium seeds. The larger ones do not germinate as well nor did they with usual stratification for me.

“never sterilized” is for rinsed only or never cleaned. One can consider it messy. It is much less than letting funghi develop during stratification and results are more consistant.


Watering initially is weekly and abundant to daily in sunny wheather when seedlings are more than two true leaved.

I am sowing in trays, germination medium is a basic commercial one that has to be thick enough (10cm at sowing time) in order to have good drainage. Diluted nutrients (nitrogen) applied when needed.

I like your germination ideas very much Pierre, and I am going to do the same as you. Thank you.

Someday I will get posted my review of germination methods. One of them I came across from the U.K. used a compost activator “Garotta” as an additive to improve germination. It is some sort of bacterial culture meant to speed up rotting of wastes. So Pierre’s septic way is following along in the same line.

Thank you Pierre!

Pierre, after you have let your seeds dry out for a few months and are ready to sow them, do you first soak them in water for a few days before you sow, or not?

No I sow dry seeds. It is easier. One heavy watering for each of the first four to six weeks. Remember it is because I deal with a lot of seeds.

thanks Peirre.

Pierre, even though you emphasise that you are dealing with tens of thousands of seeds, using your method seems so much simpler, I am going to try it this season. Thanks for your help.

Already many years ago, I read the above quoted research report of Britta Feuerhahn and Wolfgang Spethmann, but until now I have not really dared to this procedure. Some other sources also describe the good effect on the germination behavior especially for heavy germinating seeds.

Have any of you used “compost starter” as a seed germination aid and if so, what were the observations? I am curious to hear your feedback. Many thanks in advance !

For the first time this year on part of my seeds. I got some of a friend who recommended it. The starter is EM. Apparently it increased germination with - I thought - canina a lot according to a study.

Soaked them in EM before stratification. I’ll use it before sowing also. Same theory. Competing MO that prevent fungi from gaining a monopoly and destroying the young vulnerable sprouts and seeds.

So many thanks ! This recommendation sounds very interesting and is nice to hear. I know EM well, because I use it as an additive to my fertilizers at two week intervals. May I ask you, whether you use it purely or diluted with water?

@Roseus this is a first time I try it, but it came highly recommended. I’ve looked up the article where EM came out as being the best to break dormancy in seeds. It wasn’t canina but damascena for rose oil plantations. This is the link to the PDF:

I used dilluted EM. I think 50/50, but I don’t think it is all that important. You simply bring the seeds into contact with the MO-mixture. You inoculate it with the micro-organisms (yeasts, lactic acid producing bacteria, …) and these form a “protective layer” on the seeds against fungi or other more damaging micro-organisms.

I’m a hobby wine maker also. In wine making you would also use yeast and lactic acid producing bacteria in different stadia of the proces. When the yeast or the lactobacillus are active and reproducing, your wine-in-the-making is better protected against unwanted fungi like candida. Once these processes end you need to take extra measures to prevent fungal infections with additives like sulphite. I see a lot of parallels with stratification of rose seeds here :slight_smile:

I’ll let you know if it was a success. I’ll inoculate all of my seeds just before sowing them. It should protect the young seedlings in a similar way against fungi or damaging bacteria. I hope against damp off. I had a lot of dead seedlings this year with my rugosa crossings due to damp off. … and if it doesn’t it won’t hurt them I guess. The bacteria and yeasts in EM aren’t a threat to young plants.


Big thanks for your efforts and the attached paper. I will start a trial and report as well. :smiling_face:

@KarelBvn In addition to your valuable note, I researched and found an EM-1 recipe:

Soak Your Seeds In EM-1 Microbial Solution:

Seed Soaking Recipe

  1. Thoroughly cleanse all containers and seed trays with APC500, organic, plant friendly cleaning solution to sterilize the containers. This is necessary to avoid fungus or mold infections from contaminating your seeds.

  2. Create a solution of 1 part EM-1® Microbial Inoculant to 1,000 Parts Water or about 1 tsp per gallon.

  3. Submerge seeds and let sit for the following times;

    Small Seeds - 20 to 30 Minutes (i.e. mustard, kale, broccoli, cabbage)
    Medium Seeds - 30 to 60 Minutes (i.e. cucumber, carrot, peppers, tomato)
    Large Seeds - 2 to 3 Hours (i.e. pumpkin, beans, squash)

  4. Air dry seeds before planting if they are sticking.

  5. Plant the seeds in nutrient rich soil and water with the same EM-1® solution after planting.

  6. EM-1® can be applied weekly throughout the growing season to increase root and plant growth.

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:sweat_smile: 1/1000 solution… my 1/2 dilution was a very strong one. I’ll let you know if the seeds I soaked it in (for about 8 or more hours) before stratification have suffered from it. I’m glad I used it on some less important seeds.


Hi KarelBvn!
May I ask if you noticed a difference in germination rate compared to the seeds treated with EM-1? I have had very good success with all germinations this year. Whether it was modern rose seeds, species seeds or OGR seeds, didn’t have much of an impact. I wanted to approach slowly in using EM-1, why I have limited my observations to just a few individual tests, which is why I cannot make a reliable statement. However, I made the first observations that the difference was insignificantly to the comparison group without EM-1 treatment. What was your impression?
Many thanks for feedback.