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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Lecture Notes on Seed Starting

I.  Roll
II.  Soil mixing station; potting bench; where to find six-packs
III.  Seed morphology basics
      A. An embryonic plant enclosed in a hard coat
      B. Evolution of higher plants (the flowering plants/Angiosperms) – previous 'improvements' in evolution were the mosses and ferns and liverworts which do not have seeds but propagate by other means
     C. Parts of a seed

          1. Outer covering – seed coat – may be so hard to require manipulation to allow seed to grow seed coat helps protect the embryo from mechanical injury and from drying out.
          2. Source of nutrients for the new plant – may be stored in the first leaves or may be stored around the plant in an endosperm – cotyledons of peas and beans are swollen because they are the storage of nutrients for the new plant
          3. Embryo – composed of the Hypocotyl, Radicle and cotyledons – the little plant
      1. Dormancy – caused by many different factors, not usually a factor in most popular seeds because they have adapted to human sowing – wildflowers and CA natives are not adapted to human sowing and dormancy is the leading cause of madness among seed sowing.

          1. Not all seed germinates at the same time to insure survival of the species
          2. Delayed germination insures passage of seasons for seed to germinate at the most auspicious time
          3. Event – such as fire – may help species out-compete other plant species
          4. Steps to work around will be covered in later lecture

    VI.  Seed starting – indoors, outdoors, A. Indoors – more control over seed environment B. Outdoors – essential for root crops and allows for a lack of a transplant setback     1.  Soil choices Constituents of potting soil – peat, vermiculite, perlite, forest fines (compost), sand     2.  Pot choices - paper, clay, plastic, found pots      3.  Seed choices – catalogs, specialty houses, collected,     4.  notes on wild collecting seed (1.)  Always get permission from the landowner before collecting seed. (2.)  Check laws and regulations before you collect seeds from city, state or national parks. (3.)  Properly identify the species (This is usually easiest to do when the plant is in bloom), and store it's seed separately from other seeds. Include notes on the growing conditions where you harvested the seeds. (4.)  Never collect more than a small percentage of the seed from a wild population (Once established, you will be able to get additional seeds from your own plants). If there are only a few plants of a particular species in an area, locate a commercial source of the desired plant. (5.)  Wildflowers may be very obvious while in bloom, but often by the time the seeds are mature, the plant will seem to disappear into the landscape. Never harvest seeds until they have ripened on the plant (after seed heads begin to brown but before seeds drop out). This usually takes at least a month. Do a little advance scouting and mark the location of desirable plants, so you can find them again at harvest time. (6.)  Do your homework, so you will know any special requirements for the seeds, such as chilling or extended dormancy. It would be pointless and wasteful to plant seeds which were unable to grow. D.  Seed sizes      Very tiny – lavender, poppy, alysum      Tiny – carrot/lettuce/Cruciferae      Medium – sweet pea, cotton      Large – fava bean on up to avocado
    E. Tools to use in sowing seeds -
              tweezers           widget           Swiss Army Knife           spoons           packet
    F. Stratification types
              hot water           fire           cold           alternating temperatures           filing           treated with acid
    F. Upsizing plants
              pricking out           potting on           setting out into the ground
      G. Sowing in the ground – carrots, radishes
      H. Setting plants out – lettuce
    V.  Practice


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