How seed savvy are you? Seeds come in hundreds of different shapes and sizes, but they all have the same purpose to reproduce. Whether you buy your seeds or collect them from the garden, there are a few tips and tricks to ensure they germinate successfully after you've sown them. Take our quiz and test your seed knowledge.
Question 1 of 10 Seeds remain dormant until conditions are right for germination. True False True: All seeds need water, oxygen and the optimal temperature to germinate, but some seeds require specific light requirements--some need complete
darkness, while others require full sunlight to germinate. From the time a seed is harvested from the plant until it is planted and germinates, there is a period when it is most fertile. If seeds are too old, their chances of germinating decrease. Most seed packages have a date stamp, indicating how old the seeds are. Usually seeds that are two to three years old will germinate well, but new seeds have the best germination rate. Question 2: Water and temperature
play no role in seed germination. True False False There are many things that can cause poor germination. Overwatering can suffocate a seed by depleting the supply of oxygen, whereas dry conditions will prevent the seed from ever germinating at all. If a seed is planted too deeply, it may deplete its energy store
trying to reach the soil surface and the seedling will perish. Consult the seed package for the plant's specific cultural requirements. Planting depth, soil temperature, days to germination, plant spacing after thinning, days to maturity, sun and water requirements are all listed. Question 3: Putting your seeds in the freezer will harm the seeds and reduce their chances of germination True
False True &False The germination rate of some seeds will improve by putting them in the freezer a week before planting. This cold period imitates winter temperatures and tricks the seeds into thinking that spring has arrived when you remove them from the refrigerator. Some seeds, like apple seeds, will not germinate unless they are subjected to a
period of cold temperatures. Although this technique works well for seeds that are going to be planted, it does not work as a way to store seeds for a long period of time. In fact, keeping seeds in the freezer for more than a few days will cause the seed quality to degrade. The best way to store seeds is in a cold, dry place where they aren't exposed to any moisture or humidity. Question 4: Broadcasting is an informal sowing technique to plant
seeds True False True: Broadcasting--or scattering--seeds is the ideal sowing method for plants such as wildflowers. Instead of planting seeds in rows, broadcasting imitates the wind and disperses the seeds randomly. Prepare a garden bed by removing any debris and evenly raking the soil. A variety
of annuals can be sown together by scattering the seeds on the prepared bed. Once seeds have been broadcast, rake the soil in one direction and then at right angles to cover the seeds. At the seedling stage it may be difficult to determine which are annuals and which are weeds, but once the plants mature, you'll be able to weed the bed. Question 5: Growing plants from seed is an expensive way to fill your garden with colourful annuals
True False False Not only will you enjoy the satisfaction of growing your own seedlings, you'll also save some money. The cost of a package of seeds is a fraction of the price of buying one single plant. For some annuals, the time from sowing to flowering can be as little as eight weeks. Another way to save money is to collect the seeds from your annuals and perennials in the fall. To
harvest seeds, use a paper envelope or paper bag. Place the flower head in the envelope and gently shake the plant to dislodge the seeds. Once you've collected the seeds, make sure you label each makeshift seed package so you know what you've harvested. Keep your seeds in a cool, dry place to keep them viable. Question 6: Sowing seeds indoors in a greenhouse or sunny window allows seeds to get a jump start on
the growing season True False True Seeds sown indoors do have a better success rate because growing conditions can be kept perfect at all times. Water, sunlight and temperature can be closely monitored to ensure seeds have everything they need to germinate. Once seedlings are mature they
can be transplanted outside, but they need to be 'hardened off' before they can be placed outside. This is done by leaving the seedlings outside during the day and bringing them in at night to acclimatize to the outdoor temperature. Do this for several days, then plant them outdoors in prepared beds. Question 7: Seed tape is a foolproof method of spacing seeds evenly True
False True While the most popular seed packages are loose seeds in a sealed envelope, seed tape is becoming a popular alternative, especially for vegetable seeds. Radish and carrots are so tiny that it's difficult to pick them up and space them evenly in the garden. Seeds are pre-spaced on a strip of tape that dissolves when the seeds are in the ground and watered. You can also make homemade seed tape by using damp toilet paper or paper towels. Unroll the paper, mist
it with a spray bottle filled with water, and place the seeds along the centre strip. Be sure to space the seeds evenly--you might find using a pair of tweezers helpful to handle the seeds. Gently fold the paper over the seeds and mist to seal. To prevent your homemade seed tape from going mouldy, plant immediately. Question 8: Once the seeds germinate, seedlings will push their way up through the soil and be visible within a week
True False False While some seedlings, such as lettuce and marigold, push their way to the surface within a week of germination, others may take several weeks. Parsley and Sweet Williams can take up to nine weeks, so resist the temptation to scrape the soil away to see if your seeds have been successful. The information
on the seed package will give you an estimated germination date of when you can expect the seedlings to appear after you've planted them. When it comes to sowing seeds, patience is a virtue. Question 9: Once a seed germinates, the root is the first thing to emerge from the seed. True False
True When a seed is exposed to the proper conditions, water and oxygen are taken in through the seed coat. The embryo's cells start to enlarge and then the seed coat breaks open and a root, otherwise known as a radicle emerges. It pushes its way downwards into the soil in search of water. The shoot, or plumule, emerges next and grows upwards searching for light and air. Once the shoot has
reached the surface, the leaves, or cotyledons, emerge to start absorbing energy from the sun. Question 10: All plants produce seeds to reproduce True False False Not all plants reproduce by producing seeds. Unlike
flowering plants that need a male and female plant to produce seeds, non-flowering plants use an asexual method of reproduction. Ferns, for example, reproduce with seed like pods called spores. Spores are usually found on the underside of the leaves and look like small, velvety scales. When the spores ripen, they fall off and are carried off by the wind, germinating wherever they land.
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