germination testing

 November 24. I’m germination testing the laughing frog seeds of past years, using the method my favorite garden scientist, Carol Deppe, outlines in The Resilent Gardener. Layers of sopping wet paper towels, seeds placed in rows at one end, the whole rolled up and placed in a zip-loc plastic bag. I’m using a heat mat to keep them in the low 70s, a temperature range my house does not attain in winter. Specks of Hopi tobacco, tiny round mustards, the pale disks of pepper seeds and sorghum like shiny chips of obsidian. Every morning I unroll the paper towels to check on their progress (and give them some oxygen). As soon as the seeds swell I wring out the toweling and keep it just damp.

It’s entirely fun, like a junior high science fair project without the angst of competition or judging. I look forward to each day’s viewing and thrill to the miracle of the plant’s emergence root first from the husk of the seed.
Two-year-old Osaka Purple mustard seeds were the quickest, with 100% sprouted in the first 24 hours. It’s been a week now, and most varieties are finished. Excellent results for all but a few. Trombetta squash lags with only four vigorous sprouts out of 20 seeds, though others are still swelling as if they may yet germinate. Nothing at all from the stinging nettle, and I’m wondering if my methods are to blame rather than the seeds themselves. Do they require some condition I’m not providing? In the hoop houses the nettles reseed on their own, coming up by the thousands every fall when the summer crops are cleared away. More information needed, and further experiment.
The Laughing Frog seed pages will soon be reorganized to include the germination results. Trombetta and maybe nettles will be discontinued, and new varieties from this year added. Awe-inspiring fun, those seeds.
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