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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Smokin' Seedlings

As I continue my adventures attempting to start lots of different seedlings, I experimented with adding "smoke" through combustion products to some seeds that require fires or smoke to germinate.  This is a prairie and forest adaptation so life bursts forth after a fire.  I tried just finding some small woody growth or dried leaves and igniting them using some newspaper as a starter in a pie pan.  I then added water to the ashes and dribbled it on the newly planted seeds.  I tried this on  Aster tongolensis 'Wartburg Star', and got seedlings after 7-8 days.   I also started some seeds with just water, and got no germination so after a couple of weeks I tried putting the ash water on these, but still got no germination.  It seems rather convincing that it was helpful.  Here are the seedlings, transplanted into individual pots, and the pot that had no germination, lower right.

I also tried it on Achillea siberica var. camtschatica 'Love Parade', lower left, with good success, and tiny seedlings are also coming up on my Primula florindae seeds, upper left.    Some other seeds require chilling-  Berberis fendleri, lower right, required 60 days at 40* F, and Scutellaria resinosa, upper right, required 21 days at 40* F.  One pot was actually germinating in the refrigerator since I left it a little longer.  I put the pots in sandwich bags and stick them in the back of the fridge.
Another technique I learned is to nick the seed coat of some seeds, here I used a pin to make a hole, then poured boiling water over the seeds 3 times in 24 hours, and soaked them, to germinate Roselle, Hibiscus sabdariffa, whose flowers are used for Hibiscus tea.  The seed leaves have holes but the true leaves are fine, center row.
These tall seedlings are of a tree, Moringa oleifera, center 2 pots, a legume which has edible leaves and pods, and health benefits.   I am hesitant to transplant them since I think they are not supposed to like it, and don't know whether I should move them up in pot size slowly or put them directly in a big planter to minimize shock.  They are pleasingly tree-like in form.
I hope you are finding satisfaction as well in growing seedlings indoors.  It is fun especially in the winter.   I am experimenting with sowing at this time of year to hopefully put the plants out in fall when the rainy season begins, with them hopefully of sufficient size to make it through the winter and bloom next year.  Happy growing,   Hannah

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