Seed germination

This is one of the many packets of seed that have come from Australia and the UK, as part of the recent horticultural push. When we bought the house, the vendor said that the garden would afford many surprises in the form of plants shooting up with the various seasons. It is true that daisies and violets and daffodils and tulips appear each in their turn, magnolias flower and the maple cycles its leaves, but we felt that we wanted some more distinctive action.

To this end, Danny has embarked on a program of raising a great many exotics from seed.

We have started Snow Gums. These require no small trouble. The instructions read "Mix seeds in damp sand, wrap in polythene, secure with a rubber band, and place in a refrigerator (not a freezer) at 2-5C for 6--12 weeks. Sieve the seeds and sow in early Spring. Where to Grow: Full sun to afternoon shade. Any well-drained soil. Sowing: Fill pot of seed tray to within 1" (3cm) of the top moist sandy soil. Sow seeds on the surface, compress lightly and cover lightly with sand. Keep soil moist but avoid water logging. Cover with clear polythene--- remove this when seeds start to germinate (3-5 weeks). Place in warm shaded position to germinate. Cultivation: Pot when large enough to handle. Transplane to sunny garden position when 8" high. Water well and water regularly around the roots until established. Avoid water logging. Use light applications of low-phosphate organic fertilizer when planting out." We already have sprouts.

The Flannel Flowers have another quaint requirement. You have to put gum leaves on top of the seeds, and then set fire to the leaves. At left you see Danny and myself carrying out this bizarre horticultural ritual. After this, one may expect it to take tens of weeks for germination to occur, even given ideal conditions.

We are germinating various passionfruit vines (of the varieties whose passion flowers give way to edible fruit), an assortment of Australian natives, including both Waratah and Gymea, both of which may one day produce the most excellent flowers that have given them local fame in Australia. Sturt's Desert Pea fares well so far.

As part of this push, we have calibrated the portable and fixed sprinklers. This was accomplished by laying out arrays of identical baby food jars (of which we have astonishing quantities on account of Teddy's appetite). Subsequent to watering, each jar has its contents measured and recorded. Here you see your faithful author logging the results from a small array, still visible on the ground.
Initially the survey allows the sprinklers to be adjusted to give an even distribution, thence the times are set to give the correct amount of water per day, per unit area. We corrected some very uneven deliveries and then made quite a few adjustments to the times in the controller.