Spring is Coming, are Your Seeds Ready? Part 1
With the regular bombardment of seed catalogs announcing the arrival of spring, comes the question, "What about my seeds from the past that I have been saving?" You might think that they may have expired, they won't sprout, or they may not even be viable. Other questions such as how do I prepare seeds for planting arise. Well, let's look at seed germination and see if we can clear up some questions.
Seeds are truly amazing little miracles waiting to happen, unlike animals that show signs of life before birth, not so much when it comes to seeds. They just seem to lie there, doing nothing but look lifeless. This is far from the truth as in actuality there is quite a bit of metabolic activity (biochemical processes within a living organism) in a viable seed, and so we say these seeds are only dormant and are fully capable of germinating. Seeds when given all the right ingredients and conditions will transform from a dormant state into a rather intense, though short period of activity that results in germination.
Seeds are astonishing objects; compact. stored easily, capable of withstanding and surviving freezing temperatures, and extreme and prolonged periods of drought, these conditions would generally kill the parent plant,
The skin or coat of a seed varies between species as to its color, texture, shape, and thickness. It is the seed coat's thickness and hardness that will determine how easily permeable the coat will be to allow water to penetrate and that will determine how quickly a seed germinates after planting.
Some seeds with very hard and or thick coats may need to be scarified or scratched to hasten the germination process. Gardeners will do this manually with a file or sand paper or even just the sharp edge of a knife. In nature it is a more involved process, where the seed coat becomes scarified through grinding action of soils, or by passing through the digestive tract of animals, Many seeds are colorful to induce more animals to eat them.