So writes educator and author Karen McLaren: âGardening is an affirmation of divine timing. For me, gardening is a form of prayer.Â Most people have an awareness of life and death, but few have an awareness of life, death, and life again.Â Gardeners do though.â
Time. Everybody has the same number of hours, minutes, seconds per day.Â Yet some covet more time.Â Farmers and gardeners also wish there is more day time because most plants love sunlight.Â In the farms, time is not measured by the watch or clock.Â In many farms, farmers work from sun-up to sun-down, so the more daytime there is, the more work is done. Â Â Farmers want fast germination of seeds so their plants can grow faster and that means money.Â In farming, time also equates to money, so they want to use their time more efficiently.
It is the same with urban farmers.Â We work our garden or farmlet usually on weekends, early in the morning before going to work and after work.Â So we wish there is more daytime.Â Â We impatiently look at our seedbed and get dismayed that the seeds weâve sown still have no sign of life whatsoever.Â Iâve sown catmon seeds for four weeks now and the seeds seem to be lifeless.Â And I want to eat my catmon, one of the fruits of my childhood in Camarines Norte along with balig-ang (lipote, related to duhat) and bulala (closely allied to rambutan), among others.
When we do gardening or farming, we also cultivate our patience.Â Â Plants do not germinate, grow and bloom overnight.Â We need to wait patiently and gracefully.Â Plants grow from seeds, bloom and before they die, they produce seeds that will become new growths soon.Â From the seeds of one plant come thousands of plants later.Â As pastor and author Robert H. Schuller once said, âAnyone can count seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed.â
So be patient with me today as i am going to be a bit technical to help us better appreciate those seeds, one of the mysteries of life.Â I got this definition from the internet (I forgot the website):Â âA 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. 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.â
There!Â A seed is a complicated matter, it has life inside it.Â Pretty much like a baby in the womb.Â So that we do not crush a seed or throw them away just like that.Â Â A baby is born after nine months of development in the womb.Â A seed, likewise, takes time to develop into a plant.Â Like a baby it undergoes certain stages from fetus to infant to toddler to boy/girl, teen-ager to adult.Â Canât rush a baby to grow; neither could and should we rush a plant to shoot up into maturity in a short time. Â Â We need a lot of patience at every stage.Â They need different kinds of treatment and caring for different kinds of needs at different stages of life.
In Godâs time, our seeds will take on life.Â But some seeds take time to germinate so what should we do?Â We bid for faster time by employing certain procedures.Â Like a baby in the womb, we need to take care of our seeds for the following reasons
â˘ To protect and make the seeds and the new growth sturdier and more resistant to pathogens,Â or disease causing organisms such as bacteria, virus or fungus that attack seeds.
â˘ To activate embryo and make the new plant emerge faster or induce germination.
â˘ To grow uniform, healthy and robust plants.
â˘ To increase yield or have more fruits or flowers.
Store-bought seeds are usually already treated so we just plant them straight from the packet.Â But fresh seeds that we obtain from fruits we eat or from seeds of our own plants or seeds given to us by fellow farmers/gardeners need to be treated somehow.Â In the first place, we need to have clean seeds from vigorous plants.Â Pretty much similar to carefully choosing the right partner in life so we are assured of beautiful and intelligent children.Â These procedures, though, are not applied to human fetuses; strictly for seeds only.
1. One way is Hot water treatment. Organic Seed Resource Guide recommends this procedure:Â The use of hot water treatment to eradicate seedborne diseases, particularly those caused by plant pathogenic bacteria, is well-established. While the technique does not work for large-seeded vegetable crops, it has proven effective for brassicas, carrots, tomatoes, and peppers, and, to a lesser degree, celery, lettuce, and spinach. The typical procedure consists of: 1) warming the seed in 37.78Â°C water.
2. Heating the seed for 20-25 minutes, depending on the crop species, in a 50Â°C water bath.
3. Cooling the seed for 5 minutes in cold water to stop heating action, and,
4. Spreading seeds on a clean surface to promote rapid drying.Â Precision in temperature and timing are important, as the seed embryo may be killed in hotter water or the disease incompletely eradicated in cooler water.Â Length of treatment must be EXACT.Â Soaking longer, especially in stagnant water that is not changed, can result in oxygen starvation and seed death.Â Seeds of cucurbits and old seeds can be severely damaged by hot-water treatment.Â Treated seeds should be used immediately or they will lose their vigor.
|Brussels sprouts||50C||25 min|
|pepper||50C||25 min||pepper may be more sensitive than tomato to hot water|
|tomato||50C||25 min||can also try 51.67 F for 20 min|
|lettuce||47.78C||30 min||lettuce is more sensitive; try small sample first and test viability|
- A good procedure for separating healthy seeds from chaffy ones is the Salt Water Treatment.Â To test the salinity of water, place an egg in water until it sinks to the bottom and rests horizontally. The horizontal egg indicates that the egg is not rot and that it could be further used for purpose of testing the density of salt concentration in water. Then remove the egg add salt to water and stir continuously until it dissolves. Immerse the egg once again into this concentration. At a certain stage of salt application into water, only a quarter of the egg is found to be visible on the surface. This is the standard saline concentration used for seed treatment. Seeds are soaked in this preparation for a period of 30 minutes and then removed, washed twice and thoroughly dried until the moisture is absorbed. Salt-water treatment is a useful technique in separating healthy seeds from chaffy ones.
According to Dr. Roberto Coronel (in his book âPagpaparami ng mga Nakakaing Prutas at Nuwes sa Pamahayang Hardinâ):Â Another way of hastening germination is to prepare the seeds well.Â Some seeds are big (upo or gourd and avocado), some are small (pechay and guava).Â Some seeds are enveloped in meat (santol), some are bare or naked (loquat).
For naked seeds like tsiko (sapodilla), wash them very well with plain water and put in the shade to dry.Â For seeds wrapped in meat, remove the meat using sand or ash, rinse with water and put in the shade to dry.
For small seeds (papaya and guava), soak in water for 24-48 hours until the meat softens, rub until the meat are removed, put in the shade to dry.
Another way is scarcification.Â Wikipedia reports:Â The hard protective coating on some tree seed is nature’s way of protecting the seed. But hard coats on some hard seeded species actually inhibit the germination of the seed because water and air can not penetrate the hard coating.Â Interestingly, many tree seeds require two dormant periods before the protective coating breaks down enough to germinate. The seeds must lay on the ground completely dormant for one full growing season, and then germinate the following growing season.
Mechanical scarification is the artificial way to prepare hard seed coats for germination.Â According to Dr. Alexis de Manuel, an avid farmer and conservationist in Kidapawan,Â âI use a sharp metal file or sharpening bar to penetrate the outer seed coat to make it easier for moisture to enter the seed and activate the sleeping tree.â
Stratification. Many dormant tree seeds need to be “after-ripened” before they can germinate. This is the most common cause of seeds failing to germinate. If the seed embyro produced by a tree is dormant, it must be stored at the proper temperature and in the presence of abundant supplies of moisture and air.Â Stratification is the process of mixing the seed in a moist (not wet) medium like peat moss, sand or sawdust, then placed in a storage container and stored in an area where the temperature is controlled at a low enough level to “ripen” the seed. This storage is usually over a definite period of time at a specific temperature (around 10 degrees C.)Â Rain water removes chemical inhibitors in some seeds that is one reason we plant mostly during rainy season.
If you’re starting your seed germination indoor, they easily become tall and spindly. So put your seedlings outside on warm days and bring them in again at night. To keep your seedlings warmer while outside and to protect them from wind, you can invest in a transparent plastic cover for your seed tray. You can use empty plastic soda bottles.Â Cut them crosswise.Â Invert them into the seedling leaving a tiny air vent open.Â Or you can put a foil reflector (you can use aluminium foil) behind the seedlings inside. This will reflect more light back on to them.Â Also, if the room temperature inside is warm, your seedling will need a little less light.Â If it is cold, it will need more light.
There are available seed treatment chemicals o synthetic fungicides in agriculture supply stores, but they are harmful to the many beneficial organisms, animals and even humansâsome are found to cause cancer in laboratory animals.Â So keep them off your seeds.Â Although banned in 1990, an exception was made for some specific crops, and for its use as a seed treatment.Â You can recognize chemically treated seed because, by law, the seed must be dyed; not just an occasional seed, but every seed in a packet.
Let me close this article with this quote:
âYou need patience to be a good gardener. If you don’t have patience, and you stick with gardening, it will teach you patience.â âBill Turull Jr. as quoted in People, Places and Plants magazine, N.E. / N.Y. Edition, Summer 2005