Germinating smaller seeds such as those of peppers or parsley can be a challenge for many people. At best, impatience sets in because it takes longer for them to come up. However, there is an extra step that can be added to speed up the process.
The night before planting the seed, wet a thick paper towel and wring it out until it is moderately damp but not wet. Spread the towel out on a flat surface and sprinkle the seeds in the center of it. Fold the ends over until the seeds are completely enclosed within the damp paper towel. Place the towel inside a plastic bag to keep it from drying out and let it rest overnight before placing the seeds into the planting medium the next morning. You will find that they germinate more quickly and successfully if you use this method.
In order to ensure a more even distribution of small seeds, after they hydrate overnight, mix them with a small amount of sand before sowing them, using a ratio of approximately 1:4. Also, you can lay a light piece of cheesecloth or burlap on top of the newly sown area to avoid undue disturbance of the seeds while watering them. Just be sure to check often and remove this covering before the seedlings spring up.
Betty Conejo, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service