To soak, to chit or to chip? The range of techniques you can use to start off your sweet pea seeds can seem daunting.

There is a lot of conflicting information on the best course of action, so we’re here to cut through the clutter and offer our recommendations for the best way to get those seeds started.

Soaking your seeds

Opinions are divided on whether it’s best to soak your seeds prior to planting them or not. Some people recommend soaking them in a few tablespoons of tepid water for up to twelve hours in order to soften the hard, outer shell.

However, unless you act fast there is a high chance your seeds could rot. Most seed packets warn against soaking and we would have to agree. Save yourself a job and steer clear of submerging those seeds.

If you are keen to start your seeds off before planting, we suggest laying them out on damp kitchen paper and leaving this in a sealed container in a warm room.

Once the seeds are soft and swollen, plant them straight away. The benefit of doing this is if you’re short on garden space, you can just plant out the promising looking seeds.

What is chitting?

When the seed’s shell is too thick, it can prevent moisture from getting inside, which is required for germination. Chitting is when a small section of the shell, opposite the ‘eye’ of the seed, is chipped or filed away in order to let more moisture in.

Not only is this not always necessary, but it can be a very fiddly process!

As sweet pea seeds have a high chance of germinating when left to their own devices, we would skip this time-consuming step.

Keep it simple

The truth is there is no fail-safe method that guarantees 100% germination. Soaking and chitting seem to make little difference when it comes to germination success rate, so we would recommend keeping it simple.

Rest assured it is completely acceptable to plant your seeds directly from the packet! Choose good quality seeds and follow the guidelines on the pack, pop them in some decent compost and they should be on their way without much assistance.

Most manufacturers also try out new seed in a vigorous testing process to work out germination rates. As long as seed is stored well, it will almost always have a high germination rate.