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Know Your Seeds.
January 16, 2012

Winter is finally here.

Or is it?

I must say the white fluff brightens up a rather drab landscape.

The cold and snow brings many birds to my yard and feeders as well.

When winter is mild and the ground is bare, birds are rare.

Birds do prefer natural offerings first and this has been one of those winter where they can forage in the wild.

Winter and snow also offer countless photo opportunities.

One only has to open their eyes, to see our Creator's beauty and gifts he so freely shares.

Pictured are a few winter pictures, some winter birds and at the bottom, you will see how rough my little fur kids have it around here.

I'm working on a small series for gardeners as they prepare for spring and gardening.

This is really for the novice gardener, or maybe you simply lack information.

This week I will be discussing a bit on seeds.

Not all seeds are created equal.

While many seed species do have the same or similar requirements for germination, some seeds require
special attention.

Still, there are some seeds that must be kept hidden from pets and little hands.

What about seeds from last year?

I'll work on that too.

After you read this, it will be up to you, to know your seeds.


(Male and female Red-bellied woodpeckers visit the suet log during the winter months.)

You have seeds you harvested last fall or seeds given to you by friends.

Envelopes, little baggies, tiny containers, labeled on what it contains and stored in a proper location.

Possibly you have opened seed packets that are a couple years old and aren't sure what to do with them.

You ordered seeds from a number of catalogs, or picked up a few
packets from your local stores.

You've taken inventory and you know what seeds you have.

Some of you have planted some seeds already or are in the process of doing so.

You may even have an idea on where you want your new plant seedlings to go and grow.

You are chomping at the bit and can't wait to get started

However, this is but a first step.

I believe the steps that follow are just as important or more so than having a bunch of seeds.

Now this is where you play an important part.

I mentioned last week that many of you have decades of experience and may ignore these letters.

Yet, by some of the mail I received last week, there are many new and inexperienced gardeners looking for some friendly advice.

I also understand that many are busy and forget to respond.

Still, some of you may be a bit shy, and are reluctant to offer tips or ask for help.

Know Your Seeds:

It isn't enough to know the name of a seed, or the plants and vegetables the seed will grow.

It is more important to know when to plant and how to plant, or you may not have anything to transplant this spring.

Yes, there more than simply tossing your seeds on some soil, covering
them and watering.

So many different seeds and plants have different requirements.

Light, water, temperature, to stratify or not.

How long til germination?

For new gardeners, it may seem a bit confusing or over whelming.

Many of you may decide you don't have the time to do this and simply find it easier to purchase plants (there is nothing wrong with this approach).

Some gardeners like myself, like a challenge.

We attempt to grow something we have never tried.

We push the zonal envelope.

We dare to be different.

For example, this year I am going to make an effort to plant and harvest some cotton (seeds from on a seed train) in my Zone5 Michigan yard.

If it doesn't work, no big deal.

If I can harvest a few cotton balls, I will be the only person I know in my area to do so.

I think it is possible if I get the seeds started early enough indoors.

I did the research.

Now it is your turn.

Do Your Research:

It is important for you to do some research and read the instructions on packets.

A few seed examples follow.

Morning Glory (Ipomoea) seeds require some kind of scarification to speed up germination.

In the Natural world, this is taken care of be weather conditions or seeds hard seeds
going through the digestive system of birds and animals that remove part of or soften the otherwise very hard seed shell.

You will need to take a nail file, sand paper or something that will put a weak spot or softer spot to aid in germination.

You may also want to soak certain seeds before planting.

Morning Glory and many hard seeds may eventually germinate, but you have just given them a good head start.

Find out what other conditions are required.

Marigolds (Tagetes): Are about as easy as it comes.

Sprinkle some seeds, cover with a bit of soil mix, water and some light.

Within two or three days you will see some seedlings popping through.

Salvia (Salvia spp.), are rather easy to grow and you will notice activity within a week to 10 days.

Saliva's are different from most seeds, as they require light to germinate.

For good germination, sprinkle seeds on top and don't cover with soil.

Daylily (Hemerocallis) seeds require a 30 day stratification period.

When ever you read or hear the word or term to stratify or stratification for seeds, it usually means a period of time in a refrigerator or freezer.

(Stratify can also mean a period of time in cool moist soil, arid conditions or other some other application.)

Here is something you need to know about seeds.

Some plants and their seeds are very toxic and must be kept away from pets and especially people (kids).

Castor beans (Ricinus communis), while these seeds grow very attractive, tropical looking plants (native of Africa), it takes just three bean seeds to put down a good sized adult human being.

Three Beans.

One bean and your little one is in trouble.

As deadly as the bean is, scientists have discovered ways to cook the oil to use for industrial purposes and if cooked at a certain temperature, the toxin is removed.

Castor oil is also used as a mole deterrent.

Monkshood (Aconitum) A beautiful flower, yet one of the most deadly in the garden.

The Alkaloid toxin is one of the deadliest and most formidable poisonous substances known to man.

Since ancient times, people have known that it is poisonous and have used it as a weapon by coating their spears and arrowheads with its strong poison.

All parts of the plant are toxic, especially the roots, seeds, and new leaves.

Yet another plant and seeds to keep from kids and animals.

Oleander (Nerium) is another very toxic plant, where all parts including the seeds can kill.

This plant has great garden appeal, yet plant with care.

Educate your self my friends.

You may have some seed packs or stumbled across some old seeds given to you at one time, and may wonder if they are any good.

Most seeds are pretty good after a year or two (Seed companies will check for viability and often repack them for the next year).

Many non hybrid seeds can remain for several years just waiting for the ideal conditions
to grow.

The easiest way to find out is the dampen and fold a paper towel a few times, soak and squeeze out much of the water.

Place the paper towel on a plate or small dish and sprinkle 6-10 seeds if you can spare them.

Fold wet paper towel over and place in a warm location and don't allow the paper to dry.

Place the whole thing in a clear plastic bag are plastic wrap (Not too tight) to help retain moisture.

Start checking after a couple of days.

You may have 100% germination.

You may have 50 to 60% germination if the seeds are more than a couple of years old.

Now you know what success rate to expect from the remaining seeds.

If you have but a few seeds, just plant them at the proper time and see what happens.

I still find it interesting that scientists still have no answers as to how a seed works, only that it does.

Creation is special that way.

This is just a sampling of seed germination requirements and characteristics.

Learn what requirements and needs your seeds need.

You will discover that most seeds have a 5 to 14 day germination period in ideal conditions.

Some sooner and some longer, but 7 to 10 days seems to be the main time frame.

Understand when transplant time is in your region, usually it is after the last average frost date, plan ahead.

I felt it was important to mention that some seeds are deadly and some will make you sick

Even Morning glory provides a toxin (like LSD but weaker) used by young people to get high.

Moonflower, Jimson weed (Datura) and Angel Trumpet (Brugmansia) also have toxins that are often abused.

For a healthy garden and healthy you, it is important to know your seeds.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

Until next time, God Bless.

The key to success is self-confidence, and the key to self-confidence is preparation.

Jane Garton, Author

Be Prepared.

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;

yet do it with gentleness and respect,

1 Peter 3:15

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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