Long cold stratification

There was a time when the salad compartments in my refrigerator did hold things to eat. Nowadays they are more likely to contain small cloth bags filled with sand and seed mixtures bound tightly at the top with cotton threaded with a seed label attached. I’ve been stratifying seeds. Tree seeds to be specific and most recently Small leaved lime (Tila cordata) , Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) and Witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana).

Seeds from the fridge (stratifying)

straight from the fridge. Note the roots through the canvas - whoops

The thing is they have been in the fridge since June and July last year (2012) and I’d not so much forgotten about them, but wasn’t expecting to see anything until Spring so hadn’t checked. When I went looking for some onions yesterday I was surprised to see many small roots poking their way out the canvas bags.

My first thoughts were “wow that’s so good”. Then I was annoyed that I’d picked them up so clumsily and worried that I may have damaged some of the roots, then concern as I looked at the roots forcing their way through the woven cloth as I wondered how I was going to remove them from the bags to plant them out.

Tilia cordata seeds

Craig inspecting the small-leaved lime seeds

Well, that was last night. Today we found out just how many had started to germinate we’d be able to free from their fake winter climate when we sowed them in their root-trainers. 540 seeds sown! Small-leaved lime and Hornbeam. The Witch-hazel has gone back in the fridge as it was showing no signs of growing yet.

Hanging seed trays

Out of mice reach?

Last year the mice took quite a few of our larger and medium sized seeds out of the root trainer pots as they were all on the ground. So a cunning plan was needed. We’re trying hanging the root trainers from the polytunnel crop-bars.

I hope it works.