It is a universal truth that tree surgeons never look at what they’re walking on, this can be nightmarish for the gardener whose main focus tends to be on that ground and all the precious plants they’ve added. Sometimes though it would be as well for a gardener to emulate the tree folk and look up into the canopy, for who knows what delights may be hidden amongst the boughs.
Looking at the calendar I realised I was running late, very late in fact. I should have sown some of my seeds months ago. Before anybody rushes to comment on this I should explain these are the kind of seeds that need a prolonged cold spell to break their dormancy. Described by some as Vernalisation.
We use Vernal a lot in the gardening world, most people know about the Vernal Equinox which we traditionally use as a marker for the first day of spring (in case you were wondering it’s March 20th this year). Vernal comes from the latin word vernis, meaning spring, so why use vernal to describe pre-chilling seed? The action itself is to trick said seed into thinking its gone thorough a winter and it is the raising of the temperature after this chill time that does the trick of making the seed think it’s now spring.
Personally I prefer a different word to describe the act of subjecting seeds to temperature change, Stratification* (not to be confused with Scarification* which is something else entirely). I think it better describes the two and sometimes three stage temperature change required to trick these little packets of potential into germinating.
However at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what you call it. Seeds don’t give two hoots what name you give this process, some just need to chill for a bit before they sprout. With this in mind I’ve sown*** my seeds and as this has been and seems set to continue to be an exceptionally mild winter they’re now chillin’ in the fridge.
*Stratification of seeds is the process of pretreating seeds to simulate natural winter conditions that a seed must endure before germination.
**Scarification of seeds is the process of breaking down the seed coat to encourage germination.
*** To stratify or vernalise seed they need to be cold and damp as well. You can use damp compost, vermiculite, paper towels etc. I’ve chosen to sow into damp compost in containers as it reduces faff time later.
Cold and dry conditions are perfect for storing lots of seed tho.