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What's In a Seed?
March 14, 2011





Daylight Savings.

Let 'March Madness' begin.

Okay, sure........................

You can have your brackets for the NCAA Tournament.

I'm talking March Madness around the house and gardens.

All the prep work that you and I are doing to get ready for..........


Yes, even here in Michigan.

For many of you, winter's grip is slow to let go (same here) and you are growing impatient, but it is slowly happening.

Late winter storms are now more rain than snow and that means melting and some local flooding.

No matter, the length of day continues to grow and temperatures are slowly moderating.

Yes, it is time for 'March Madness'.

A poor choice on my part..................

Never, get just one squeak toy when you have two fur kids.

I was at the Dollar Store and happened to see these squeak toys, so I picked one up.

Akita (Keet) the little Pomeranian/Chihuahua mix got it first and Ziggy the toy poodle couldn't stand it.

Like any good siblings, the taunting and teasing was in full swing.

Finally, Ziggy snagged it and the race around the house was on.

This continued for a couple of hours and at least once a day still.

Now we have other toys, but there is something about a new toy.

I'm sure you can relate.

(You would think I would know this by now.)

It sure was great entertainment for us, and all for a single dollar (plus tax).

Bird migration continues.

I am seeing more and more Robins and Red-winged blackbirds.

More reports on Sandhill cranes here in the north country.

This past week, spotted the resident Great Blue Heron walking the flooded creek (pond is still covered with ice).

And Friday I witnessed my first Turkey Vulture of spring, as it slowly drifted to the north.

I'm sure some of you are seeing other spring migrators as well.

As the days grow a bit warmer and temperatures moderate, I am seeing fewer winter feeding birds come to my feeders and yard.

I call most of the regulars winter feeders, as that is when they come in numbers.

(There is a creek in there some where.)

Blue-jays, Northern cardinals, Black-capped chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, etc.

All birds that visit year round, but in numbers during the winter.

During breeding season, I see only a few of each species.

These birds are now busy staking out territories and in courtship.

I might add this too...................

As wild creatures, they still prefer to forage for food in the wild.

Research show a full 75% of their food still comes from Nature's offerings.

Of course there are the birds I only have for winter (Juncos and Tree sparrows.

Check out the things growing from the ice.

A simple point of interest to me, but worth sharing with you.

Actually, these are deer tracks.

Snow that was packed down and on an already cold/ice surface and is the last to melt away.

Now they appear as icy growths.

Sharon of Neenah Wisconsin:

Is there anything I can do to keep the sparrows out of a bird house in my front yard? I had tree swallows a few years ago but the next year the sparrow kept taking up residence and chasing the tree swallows. I kept taking out the sparrows nesting material to deter him but the tree swallow gave up. So I plugged the holes up so the sparrow had to look somewhere else. I do have houses in the backyard that the sparrows have and a couple for the wren but I really enjoyed the tree swallows and want them back in the front yard so I can watch them through the window. Thank you...

Good Question Sharon.

I have no idea if there is anything 100% sparrow proof and maybe a reader or two will have an answer.

I do know there is a product out there called a 'Sparrow Spooker' and I know some people have success by hanging weighting fish line from the house and near it and this doesn't seem to bother Bluebirds.

There are also sparrow traps, that need to be monitored as they do catch Tree swallows as well.

For a neighbor and myself, hanging gourd bird houses and the plastic gourd houses seem to work.

For some reason sparrows and starlings don't care for the swinging motion, but other birds like Purple martins, Tree swallows, Black-capped chickadees and House wrens don't mind the motion.

My neighbor has a few plastic martin gourds hanging from a pole in a wide open backyard. No Purple martins, but he always gets at least three pair of Tree swallows.

This gave me the idea to hang one and it works without sparrows.

Sparrows are also community birds (look at any gas station).

You may want to check: for other tips and ideas for cavity nesting birds.

Beside killing off the male sparrows, I think these are your best hope.

Remember, if you too have a question, reply back along with your:

First name (last is optional).

Your location (city or region).

Your state or province.

I can't promise a great answer, but you will get our best efforts.

Thank you.

Thank you for keeping me on my toes.

I keep saying that you are the greatest bunch of readers a guy could have and it is true.

Sometimes I am spread so thin, I forget to mention certain topics and a few to do's.

As spring approaches, there are a few yard tasks that can be done, If........ and only if the soil is not to wet.

One task you might tackle is cutting back your ornamental grasses.

Be sure to cut back as close to the ground as you can.

I provide a page on Cutting Grasses and More. You may want to read as a refresher course.

Spring is also the time to transplant and divide your warm season or late blooming grasses.

Don't be too eager to get outside and trample on the wet ground. Compacting the soil is not a good thing.

Part of March Madness is planting seeds so you have a bounty of little flowers and vegetables to plant as the weather warms up.

Today's topic is a bit of "Seed Biology'.

I know, who cares right?

Isn't it always good to know what makes up an object?

How does a seed work?

And so many other questions?

Some questions don't have answers (God keeps a few secrets).

The making and functions of a seed is truly a remarkable thing.


You may be a new gardener, or one that was born with a seed in one hand and a hoe in the other.

No matter, it is a good idea to understand how a seed works.

A refresher course for the veteran gardener and a basic lesson and some understanding for the individual that has been gardening for a short period or just getting started.

God in all of his wisdom created almost countless varieties of plants and seeds.

Within each seed is a baby plant (embryo) just waiting to grow.

Seeds come in two categories.......Monocots and Dicots.

Monocots are single cotyledon or produce a single leaf like corn and grasses.

Dicots have two cotyledons or baby leaves.

Some of the best examples I can share with you, or you may want to share with your kids and grand kids are the inside of a peanut and any kind of bean seed.

Carefully split a bean or shelled peanut, and you will clearly see a baby plant, (leaves and all) just waiting for the ideal conditions to germinate and grow.

Pictures to your right are from top, a peanut I split open, A hard bean seed and beans that I soaked for about 18 hours.

You can clearly see the plant embryo (what a wonderful thing) in the top two pictures.

On the soaked beans, notice how quickly the new root begins to swell and grow.

I really should have expanded this over a several day period, but you get the idea.

Kids are often fascinated by this and I use beans and suggest to teachers to use beans seeds for class projects.

Seeds like pumpkins and sunflower, everything within the shell is the baby plant.

The point is the future root and the meaty parts we eat are the baby leaves.

Planting seeds directly in your garden, or direct sowing, is a process that has been repeated by nature and humans alike since Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden.

It represents the connection that people have to the earth and the sustenance it provides.

It is a process that most gardeners repeat frequently because it is the means to an end..................

A beautiful and productive garden.

But, it is also an experience filled with fun and wonder for gardeners of all ages and skills as we watch our sown seeds turn into the fruits (and flowers) of our labors.

I enjoy the challenge and simply watching things grow from a seed to fruition.

I know a few of you are the same way.

I don't need to know all of the working behind the scene, but it is nice to know some of, how a seed is made and how it works.

With an understanding of how seeds work, you’ll be able to create a formula for success, and then repeat it again and again.

A seed is the product of a fertilized ovule (egg).

It is the means by which the progeny of a plant can be spread.

A seed is a small embryonic plant enclosed in a covering called the seed coat, usually with some stored food.

It is the product of the ripened ovule of gymnosperm and angiosperm plants which occurs after fertilization and some growth within the mother plant (Boy stuff meets girl stuff).

Yes, the birds and the bees of plant life. and often the birds and the bees are required as well as butterflies and other pollinating insects.

There are certain bats, the wind, animals and even you and I help to fertilize plants and aid in reproduction.

I digress...............

The formation of the seed completes the process of reproduction in seed plants (started with the development of flowers and pollination), with the embryo developed from the zygote and the seed coat from the integuments of the ovule.

Seeds have been an important development in the reproduction and spread of flowering plants, relative to more primitive plants like mosses, ferns and liverworts, which do not have seeds and use other means to propagate themselves.

Okay, the seed contains the embryo from which a new plant will grow.

The seed contains a supply of food called the endosperm that is used by the new plant to develop.

The whole seed is covered in a seed coat known as the testa.

Seeds are found in a great variety of shapes and sizes.

For example, orchid seeds are like dust, with more than a million seeds to the gram yet, a complete embryo lies within this grain of dust of a seed.

At the other end of the scale is the Coco de mer (Lodoicea maldivica), the largest seed, weighing in at 44 lbs or 20kg.


To protect the vital material, the seed has a natural protection or casing.

The testa (shell, skin, or coat) protects the contents of the seed.

For the seed to grow the testa needs to split.

The seed imbibes water which causes it to swell and split open the testa.

The seed coat varies between different types of seed, which in turn affects, the uptake of water.

Some seed coats are very thick and need to go through a process of scarification to allow absorption of water.

In the wild this would occur by the gnawing actions of animals, passing through an animal's digestive tract or abrasion by a rocky surface.

In the artificial environment of gardening this process is imitated by nicking the seed coat with a sharp knife or rubbing with sandpaper.

If a seed has a thin coat the presence of light can either encourage or inhibit seed growth. Smaller seeds tend to require light for germination.

I know some seeds like that of Lemon grass and Red Salvia do germinate better without covering or just a very light cover as they need light to germinate.

Most seeds however, require a soil covering to germinate.

Still some seeds require some form of stratification (cold period.

Some seeds like radish may very well germinate over night, while seeds from your Holly bush may take a good two to three years to germinate.

There are points in between these times and some seeds that require up to five and six years to show signs of life.

I don't have that king of patience to wait.


In addition to the three basic seed parts, some seeds have an appendage on the seed coat such an aril (as in yew and nutmeg) or an elaiosome (as in Corydalis) or hairs (as in cotton).

There may also be a scar on the seed coat, called the hilum; it is where the seed was attached to the ovary wall by the funiculus (how about that, seeds have a belly button too).

Scientists can't explain why a seed grows and reproduces and produces food. Yes, they understand how it all works, but not why. How can a seed lay dormant for several years and still be viable? How can it still hold life? God who makes the sunshine, the rain fall, the seasons, night and day ..............

Still keeps a few secrets for himself and shares a few when we are ready for them. Thank 'Him' for what we have.

Well, it is time to fly for now. Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

“This very moment is a seed from which the flowers of tomorrow's happiness grow.”

Margaret Lindsey

"Plant the seed of love, water it daily, and patiently watch it grow." Michelle C. Ustaszeski

Seeds and fruits........................

Hopefully, we plant many seeds in our lifetime.

Prayerfully, we may see many of them bear fruit.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Galations 13:4

"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

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Gardening For Wildlife.

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