I wrote this a While Back for a Zine Thought I’d Put it on Here today!
Spring has arrived and with it came snow. Winters last gasp, but beneath the snow the world is waking up. Skunk cabbage is pushing up through the frozen earth in swirls of purple and green. Onion grass cropped close to the ground by deer grazing. Garlic Mustard adds another hue of green to the forest floor, while above the maples are tinting the treetops in red. Spring is here even if its shy and subtle. Soon spring Peepers and Wood frogs will be calling and chirping through the night. With spring comes the time for Gardening, If your like me you’ve combed through your seed catalogs all winter plotting and planning what you want to grow. This year I’m trying some new herbs, Meadowsweet, Spilanthes, Marshmallow and Borage, as well as some I saved from last year.
Each variety of plant produces a different type of seed. Dandelions are light and fluffy blowing in the win. Burdock seeds are Velcro-like and travel far distances in the fur of animals. Some seeds are tiny like Stinging Nettles, Others are large and thick like Passion Flower. Many seeds such as vegetable and flower seeds can be planted directly in the soil but for a lot of varieties of herbal seeds there are three main types of seed preparations to use before planting and germination. They are: Scarification, Stratification, and Light dependent germination. If your not sure what type of preparation a seed needs you can usually look it up online.
Scarification is usually taken care of in nature by birds and animals. After they eat the seeds the acid in their stomachs take off the outside hard layer and when they poop them out the seeds are ready to germinate. To do this process without the aid of mother nature, you can take some sandpaper or a nail file and scrape off the outside layer of the seed until you see some of the inside white of the seed (Its endosperm). This gives the seed an easier way to sprout through its hard shell layer. You can also soak scarified seeds in warm water over night to help them on their way.
Stratification is also a process usually taken care of by nature. When a plant drops its seeds in autumn they fall to the earth and get covered up by dirt and leaves, they spend the winter under the snow, snug and cold and moist. The cold frost gets the seeds embryo ready to sprout when the weather warms again in the spring. To simulate this at home you can put your seeds in a plastic bag with barely moist sand in it. Put the seeds in their bags inside a paper bag then inside the fridge. Two months is often long enough to trick the seeds into thinking it was winter. Some seeds may require a longer cold period.
The third common seed preparation is Light dependent germination. Often these seeds are tiny, they drop from the plant and lay on the surface of the soil. The heat of the sun helps them to germinate. To do this its quite simple, plant your seeds on top of the soil and tamp them into the ground gently not burying them, letting them take in lots of sun and warmth. Be careful when watering this type of seed, use a mister spray bottle to keep them from washing away.
Now that Winter is gone and Spring is here, Go out and Get your hands dirty, watch your Seeds Grow and Grow.