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Know Your Seeds
January 30, 2017

Winter is attempting to make a small comeback.

Temperatures are hovering around freezing (give or take a bit).

Lake Effect Snow from time to time.

And never ending clouds.

Pictured is a tree branch with a few drops of rain from early last week.

You can tell when it turns cold, the birds are busy once again.

During the warms days only a few come by to feed.

We enter a new month this week, it is a good time to clean your feeders.

I try to do it around the first of the month and it is a good habit for you to get into as well.

Especially this time of year when more birds congregate and sickness and diseases can be spread from saliva and fecal matter.

For the readers that enjoy keeping up with the fur kids, there are a couple pictures below.

One is of Snickers napping by the fire.

Another picture shows the tale of Miss Penny in my jeans I just took off while Snick, Snick checks her out.

I wasn't fast enough with the camera to get a better picture of kitty exploring.

With the response to summer pictures, I will give yet another taste of what we have to look forward to.

A few years ago I wrote on the topic of seeds, it is worth doing again.

Readers come and go, and sometimes we do need reminders as well.

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.


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.

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.

You attempt to grow something we have never tried.

You push the zonal envelope.

We dare to be different.

For example, I've been growing cotton for a couple of years now and have had mild success in Zone5 Michigan yard.

I've had cotton bolls open and produce nice puffy balls of cotton.

I get to give a history lesson to grand kids using the cotton plant, slavery and the hard spurs that would scratch the dickens out of the cotton pickers.

I did some research and it worked for me.

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.

Day-lily (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.)

Now Pay Attention to This:

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, or pet is in trouble.

11 plus years ago, when Akita was a pup, I dropped a couple of castor beans on the floor.

Before I could pick them up, she bit into one.

She was so sick, I thought we lost her.

Several days at the vet, and a small fortune later, she came back home a rather healthy pup.

I will not have Castor beans in my house or garden again.

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.

All part of Lantana are toxic.

Heliotrope is lethal, so much so that honey made from the flowers can kill you.

Monkshood (Aconitum), also called wolf's bane, Leopard's bane, and even 'The Queen of all Poisons'.

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 lethal.

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.

We have a friends whose pet bunny chewed on their plant.

Bunny died, and plant is no longer around.

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

Educate yourself 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.

Larkspur and Delphinium, all parts are toxic.

Many plants and seeds are.

Too bad most garden centers and seed catalogs don't let you know.

For a healthy garden.

For a healthy you, your family, and your pets, 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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