Measure out the quantity of seeds you intend to plant. Put them in an airtight container or plastic bag between two layers of wet paper towels. Close the container and leave it at room temperature. Check the seeds after 24 hours; if the seeds have plumped up and the embryonic roots have begun to extend away from the seeds, it’s time to plant. If not, close the container and wait another day. Fresh seeds usually spring to life in 1 to 3 days. (Check out these 7 ways to grow organic potatoes, too!).
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The tiny roots are fragile and easily snapped off at this stage, so handle the presprouted seeds gingerly and plant them quickly. Dust the damp seeds with an inoculant powder, if you wish. (Inoculants for legumes contain symbiotic bacteria that form nitrogen-containing nodules on the plant roots, nourishing the pea plants and whatever crops follow.) Sow the presprouted peas immediately in compost-enriched soil.