Friday, March 11, 2016

Arbutus Seeds To Soil

Arbutus has so far managed to keep many of her secrets hidden from us.  Seeds have been produced for two years here but no new plants from seed have appeared.  We watched ants carry off chunks of the seed berries but no new plants appeared.  We tried scattering seed on favorable ground but no new plants appeared.  These seeds spent months in our refrigerator.  Contained in a waxed paper envelope that was placed inside of a plastic storage bag, these seeds have been kept cold and watched.  No signs of mold or decay were seen.  The month of January found the seeds in the freezer.  We placed them in a self defrosting freezer so that they would undergo daily fluctuations in temperature.  Today these seeds were moved into the relative warmth of our bedroom.

Our potting medium was taken from the base of an old white pine tree.  Fallen rotted pine needles and some of the underlying soil were placed in a bucket.  Field stones littered this ground.  Our opinion is that plant matter that decays in the company of stones is rich in minerals leeched from the stones.  We try to take this soil whenever possible.  Gloved hands worked this material through the small screen.  When filled with this special soil, the pots were placed in a dishpan partially filled with water.  We want the water to work its way up into the pots from their bottoms.  The seeds must not be allowed to dry out during the germination process.  The seeds were simply scattered on the surface.

A plastic wrap cover seals in the moisture and the bottom trays will be kept wet.  Both pots were placed in a south facing window near our tender plants that spend the winter indoors.  Now we wait.  The seeds are tiny and new seedlings will also be minuscule if they appear at all.  Without ample moisture the seeds will not germinate.  If we do see tiny specks of green, the risk of damping off is real.  The soil surface must then be allowed to dry while keeping moisture within reach of tiny roots.

The outdoor plants have been carefully watched.  Flower buds are numerous and open flowers will be found soon.  Then the cycle of seed production begins again.

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