Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Seed stratification - not as hard as it sounds
I began to contemplate if I made the correct decision with my choice of herbs. I finally decided not to let a silly five-syllable word frighten me. I would figure out how to stratify seeds, or die trying!.......at least, my plants would die while I was trying.......but you get the idea.
I did some research (God bless Google!) and discovered that stratification is a process some plants must go through to break out of hibernation, a.k.a. dormancy. Some of you may already know that certain flowers must be planted in the fall in order to bloom in the spring / summer. By doing this, you are stratifying the plants. When plants / bulbs / seeds are planted in the fall, they are like Sleeping Beauty. Alive, but just laying there, unable to do anything. Think of the winter time as Prince Charming's kiss.....in a weird, unromantic depressing sort of way. The period of cold, wet, and sometimes freezing climate magically wakes the seeds / bulbs from sleep so they can thrive in the spring.
Now, if you are like me, you didn't plant your seeds in the fall because.......well.......you didn't have a garden to plant them in. But you do now, and you are ready to plant until you heart is content! Just one problem: you are now staring down two (or more) packets of seeds with instructions containing the word "stratification."
Well fret not, because as I found out, it's not as hard as you might think. Follow me on my magical botany journey as I stratify my seeds for the first time ever!
For the soil, I purchased a 6 quart-sized bag of "starter soil" at Dollar General for $3.00. It has sphagnum peat moss, professional grade vermiculite, and perlite, and is lightweight but absorbs water easily.
Make sure you don't pack the soil to hard, because once stratification is over, you will use the same soil to germinate your plants. If the soil is too dense, it could affect the root growth of the seed. Next, using the end of a marker, a chopstick, or whatever small cylindrical object you have available (I used the non-inked end of a Sharpie), made a shallow indention into each little pod, and drop in a seed.
Gently cover each seed with a little of the displaced soil and very lightly tamp. You can now close your lid, label and date, and place your stratifying little babies into the refrigerator.
As a personal note, I also wrote the length of stratification for each particular seed on the outside of the container. I can barely remember what I had for breakfast, let alone remember something I did 8 - 12 weeks ago!
Now, all that's left to do is hurry up and wait. I will post in update in a couple of months to share if my first stratification process was a success.