Experimental seed planting

shijing

The Living Force
I just wanted to share an idea that I tried for the first time a few years ago and which keeps me amused through the winter months (although you can do this anytime of the year). I had bought a cactus-growing kit where you set up soil in a container, sprinkle seeds across it, add water, place a plastic cap over it (to allow sunshine to come in but retain moisture from the evaporating water), and then place it on a windowsill so that it gets plenty of regular sunshine. It worked like it was supposed to, and was very enjoyable.

But then I thought, if this works with cacti, maybe it will work with other things. So I started saving seeds from all the fruits and vegetables that I bought at the store, and doing the same process with them. To my surprise (and great delight), it seemed to work with most things I tried. Gourds were especially easy, but I also got apple and pear trees started. Pomegranates and grapes came up pretty readily, and I was especially excited when it turned out to be really easy to get kiwis going. Avocados and mangoes worked nicely (they are actually quite similar in how they develop), and although I was less successful with fruit pits, I did get one peach started.

The one lesson I learned the hard way was not to put the plants that I had started indoors outdoors before they were ready -- I lost many of my seedlings this way, and had to start new ones the next year (depending on your climate, some may never be able to be moved outside). I also discovered that many people like getting things like this as a gift -- some people think its really neat to get a baby apple tree started from your own seed. I'm getting ready to do this all again this winter.
 

Johnno

The Living Force
Yes, it's like a mini glasshouse. The heat and the moisture are kept in. I'm trying it with some Habanero chillis, no success yet.

It's also good for keeping the snails at bay.
 

Rabelais

Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
Johnno said:
Yes, it's like a mini glasshouse. The heat and the moisture are kept in. I'm trying it with some Habanero chillis, no success yet.

It's also good for keeping the snails at bay.

The Scotch Bonnet varieties are very slow to germinate (Habanero and African Safi) I started some of each back in February last year. It took weeks to get them to sprout, then up to the size where I could set them out to harden up. It was so late before they got to a decent size that I just transplanted them into large pots instead of the ground. They were just reaching a really productive period when we got our first hard freeze (early) in October. Unless you have a very long growing season, these are probably best done in a greenhouse or sunny window.

Covered germinating trays are the way to go for getting plants started early, but slow sprouters, like these peppers, might be best done in open air. Long stays in the high humidity covered germinating trays will grow moss, mold and mildew eventually, which is not good for the young'uns.
 

durabone

Jedi Council Member
Hey Shijing!

I have one of these boxes (it's cheap plastic, but it works). Mine was labeled for sprouting vegetables, not cactus?! FUN.
About the seedlings dying. My instructions said that the seedlings need to be removed from the device and 'hardened off' before planting. For me this amounts to taking the lid off and placing it outside or in a window for min 3 days without tons of water. Might help with your survival quotient!!
 

shijing

The Living Force
potamus said:
About the seedlings dying. My instructions said that the seedlings need to be removed from the device and 'hardened off' before planting. For me this amounts to taking the lid off and placing it outside or in a window for min 3 days without tons of water. Might help with your survival quotient!!

OK, thanks for the tip potamus, and I will give it a try with my next round of hopefuls!
 

wanderer

Jedi
Shijing said:
Gourds were especially easy, but I also got apple and pear trees started.

Hi Shijing,

Apples are not grown from seed, they're propagated from cuttings, traditionally, and grafted on to root stock. The apples you grow from seed won't grow true. Pears are probably the same, but I don't really know. Most of the fruits and vegetables you buy at the grocery are hybrids whose seeds won't produce the same quality plant as the parent, if that's what you're hoping for. You can check out Seed Savers Exchange http://www.seedsavers.org/ as a source for open pollinated heirloom seeds.

I used to grow hundreds of seedlings, mostly flowers, every year under lights in my basement. It was such a joy to see those beautiful little seedlings popping up in February when it was cold and nasty outside.
 

shijing

The Living Force
wanderer said:
Apples are not grown from seed, they're propagated from cuttings, traditionally, and grafted on to root stock. The apples you grow from seed won't grow true. Pears are probably the same, but I don't really know. Most of the fruits and vegetables you buy at the grocery are hybrids whose seeds won't produce the same quality plant as the parent, if that's what you're hoping for.

I didn't know that. Thanks for the tip, wanderer -- I guess I thought I would be able to grow identical trees to the parents, although I never set my hopes on getting any fruit out of them per se since it would have taken years for the seedlings to get big enough and I don't know what will happen in that time. Its still fun to start the trees, but I will also take a look at the link you provided -- it would be fun to grow trees expected to eventually fruit!
 

durabone

Jedi Council Member
It's an interesting side note on American culture. This "Johnny Appleseed" character that we were taught to idolize as an important part of the American Spirit headed Westward - he was held up to us as a man throwing seed from a bag for the good of America. As stated above, these had to have been "Spitter" Apples as he did not stick around for the grafting phase... Good for horses, but only grafted Apple trees produce what we call grocery store apples. I heard another take on Johnny Appleseed, on National Public Radio years back, wherein an author looked it all up, and found that in fact Johnny Appleseed was a major gangster, planting apples everywhere to further their use in the 'other' role Apples play (distillation to make Applejack, a popular booze in that era). Not the first American hero that was really a thug?
 

Johnno

The Living Force
Another tip I've picked up for growing chilli seeds.

Fold a white napkin in half, put the chilli seeds on one side and fold over the top.

Wet the napkin with some water or tea, put in a ziplok bag and put it somewhere warm. I use the drip tray under my fridge which is perfect.

After about 5-10 days they will be sprouting. I then throw them in some seed raising mix.
 

Amelopsis

Padawan Learner
I'm looking forward to starting seeds next week destined for my spring and summer feeding! The experimental part is the weather, and the fact that this only the second year I've been in this garden. Getting accustomed to the microclimate, my soil, etc.. It's sort of a 'getting to know you' stage with my garden.
Last year the tomato plan did not go well...blight struck.
This year I'm adjusting some of the planting locations, making different selections of vegetables too; while I'd leaned to an almost entirely heirloom and organic untreated seed supply, this year I'll stick with organic and untreated seeds, but not necessarily the heirloom varieties; some of them simply don't have the same resistance to disease & viruses that others do.

It's a never-ending experiment that I'm happy to undertake.

Anyone else growing much of their own food?
 

Rabelais

Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
I got a great little seed starter this year. I had bought an oil filled electric heater for the tobacco curing chamber (a work in progress). I also had a four shelf covered rack for growing delicate patio things early and late in the year when frost is possible.

I rolled the rack into the house, next to a sunny window and placed the heater in it by removing the bottom 2 shelves. I started tobacco, basil and tomato about 10 days ago. They are in water bearing trays with the heater set on 80F. So far so good. In the mornings the plastic cover is all fogged over inside. It doesn't matter what the ambient room temperature is, the heater thermostat maintains a constant 80 F in the enclosure. Pic below.

Johnno said:
Another tip I've picked up for growing chilli seeds.

Fold a white napkin in half, put the chilli seeds on one side and fold over the top.

Wet the napkin with some water or tea, put in a ziplok bag and put it somewhere warm. I use the drip tray under my fridge which is perfect.

After about 5-10 days they will be sprouting. I then throw them in some seed raising mix.

Great tip, Johnno. I had forgotten all about that one. I used to do that years ago. I remember that you have to watch the sprouts carefully or they will grow little root hairs into the paper and it damages them when you take them out too late. It makes them slow to get going in the potting soil.
 

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dant

The Living Force
With GMO "floating around", a glasshouse seems like the best way
to go to prevent "cross-pollination"? Perhaps something to keep in
mind? Perhaps the air in/out of the glasshouse ought to be filtered?
Also, perhaps the ground itself be "cleaned/prepared" before planting?

Just wondering,
Dan
 

go2

Dagobah Resident
dant said:
With GMO "floating around", a glasshouse seems like the best way
to go to prevent "cross-pollination"?

Hi dant,

It depends on how the plant is pollinated. Some plants are self pollinating...beans, peas, lettuce, tomatoes; some are pollinated by insects...squash, kale, mustard;
and some are pollinated on the wind...corn, hemp, wheat....oh yea, buckwheat is wind and insect pollinated.

I saved arugula, mizuma, and red leaf lettuce seeds from garden plants last year. I had a spinach, lettuce, and arugula salad from the cloche for lunch. The arugula is grown from our saved seed. Yummm... We are going to save more seed this year and are trying different varieties to select the cultivars which grow well in the local micro climate. I am currently breeding a Tokyo Bekana Mustard or rather small wasps were visiting the yellow flowers this morning. I am taking a chance with only one plant. Usually one should have a dozen plants to maintain genetic variety in an insect pollinated plant. I like the chartreuse color of the Tokyo Bekana Mustard. It is beautiful in a salad with dark green leaves of Tah Tsai or Pak Choi.

Many commercial varieties of vegetables are hybrids, which means they are a cross between two inbred genetic lines. The large seed producers like Monsanto like to
control the inbred lines so they can sell patented varieties for more money. There is a growing movement of seed savers who are preserving open pollinated varieties of vegetables before they disappear forever into the privately owned seed banks. Most plants grown from grocery store fruit and vegetable sections are hybrid varieties and will not breed true, but will throw back into ancestral strains.

The GMO cross-pollination is a huge issue. GMO is contaminating many plant varieties which are wind or insect pollinated. People are attempting to breed some varieties in isolated locations to preserve the pure open pollinated genetics. This issue in being litigated, however the US government and academic authorities claim there is no harm done to the contaminated varieties. Yea....and we should believe the "authorities".
 

Johnno

The Living Force
Rabelais said:
Johnno said:
Another tip I've picked up for growing chilli seeds.

Fold a white napkin in half, put the chilli seeds on one side and fold over the top.

Wet the napkin with some water or tea, put in a ziplok bag and put it somewhere warm. I use the drip tray under my fridge which is perfect.

After about 5-10 days they will be sprouting. I then throw them in some seed raising mix.

Great tip, Johnno. I had forgotten all about that one. I used to do that years ago. I remember that you have to watch the sprouts carefully or they will grow little root hairs into the paper and it damages them when you take them out too late. It makes them slow to get going in the potting soil.

I just cut out the napkin with the root attatched and plant it with the seed. It seems to have worked.
 

Johnno

The Living Force
Rabelais said:
I got a great little seed starter this year. I had bought an oil filled electric heater for the tobacco curing chamber (a work in progress). I also had a four shelf covered rack for growing delicate patio things early and late in the year when frost is possible.

I rolled the rack into the house, next to a sunny window and placed the heater in it by removing the bottom 2 shelves. I started tobacco, basil and tomato about 10 days ago. They are in water bearing trays with the heater set on 80F. So far so good. In the mornings the plastic cover is all fogged over inside. It doesn't matter what the ambient room temperature is, the heater thermostat maintains a constant 80 F in the enclosure. Pic below.

I looked into growing tobacco here in Australia. It's a $50,000 fine if you get caught, that's more than the fine for growing illicit plants!

My great grandfather used to grow his own, today he'd be considered a Federal felon. I've still got his old tobacco cutter and pipe stand which has a Highland Grenadier lead soldier attatched.
 
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