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Mike's Blog - Day 277

First the two hidden trees form yesterday:

On the bird box, “Look up in evergreens”

In the Title “Home to a King”

Today’s picture is Claire getting the seeds from “Blaides Wood crab” yesterday.

“Small crab” and “Big Crab” had produced some good looking seeds which we also froze a few times in damp paper towels before sowing.

This replicates winter (well winters that used to be cold. It was 11°C last night, 18th December) which breaks down a chemical inside the seed. This chemical stops the seeds from germinating. In other words, the seeds will not germinate too soon in the autumn and need the passing of winter for the inhibitor to break down so they can germinate in spring.

Quite a few seeds have clever systems like this that need some sort of trigger. I grew an Australian plant called Billarderia once. It has an inhibitor in its seed which you need to wash out. This means in the wild it will only germinate after a period of heavy prolonged rain. In other words, after the rainy season when the ground will be damp after the dry season. The best way to wash the seed is to put it in water then change the water often for a few weeks, and the easiest way to do that is put the seed in an old pair of tights and place it in the toilet cistern for a week or so...see the stotting wife again when she finds her tights with one foot cut off…

Many South African plants, Protea for example, need exposing to smoke and the bought seed often comes with paper infused with smoke which you place the seed on and leave moist for a few days. This is a strategy to germinate after a fire when there is no competition from other plants and the ground is clean.