Any reliable seed house can be depended upon for good seeds; but even so, there is a great risk in seed products. A seed may to all looks be all right and yet not have within it vitality enough, or power, to produce a hardy plant.
If you conserve seed from your own plants you are able to choose carefully. Suppose you are saving seed of aster plants. What flowers shall you decide upon? Now it is not really the blossom only which you should consider, but the entire plant. Precisely why? Because a weak, straggly plant may produce one fine blossom. Looking at that one blossom so really beautiful you think of the numberless equally wonderful plants you are going to have from the seeds. But just as likely as not the particular seeds will produce plants such as the parent plant.
So in seeds selection the entire plant is to be regarded as. Is it sturdy, strong, well designed and symmetrical; does it have a goodly number of fine blossoms? These are queries to ask in seed choice.
If you should happen to have the opportunity to visit a seedsman’s garden, you will see here and there a blossom with a string tied around it. These are blossoms chosen for seed. If you look at the whole grow with care you will be able to see the points which the gardener held in mind when he or she did his work of selection.
In seed selection size is another point to hold in mind. Now we know no chance of telling anything about the plant life from which this special collection of seeds came.
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So we must give our own entire thought to the seeds them selves. It is quite evident that there is some selection; some are much larger than the others; a few far plumper, too. By all means select the largest and fullest seed. This is because this: When you break open the bean and this is very evident, as well, in the peanut you see what appears to be a little plant. So it is. Under just the right conditions for development this ‘little chap’ grows into the bean flower you know so well.
This little plant must depend for its early growth on the nourishment stored up in the two halves of the bean seed. For this purpose the food is saved. Beans are not full of food and amazing benefits for you and me to eat, but for the little baby bean plant to feed upon. And so if we select a large seed, we have chosen a greater amount of food for the plantlet. This particular little plantlet feeds upon this stored food until its roots are prepared to do their work. So if the seed is small and thin, the first food supply insufficient, there exists a possibility of losing the little plant.
You may care to know the name of this pantry of food. It is called a cotyledon if there is but one part, cotyledons if two. Thus we have been aided in the classification of plants. A few plants that bear cones like the pines have several cotyledons. But most plants have either one or two cotyledons.
From large seeds come the strongest plantlets. That is the reason why it is better and safer to pick the large seed. It is the same situation exactly as that of weak children.
There is often another trouble in seeds that we buy. The trouble is impurity. Seeds are sometimes mixed with other seeds so like them in appearance it is impossible to detect the fraud. Pretty poor business, is it not? The seeds may be unclean. Bits of foreign matter in with large seeds are very easy to discover. One can merely pick the seed over and make it thoroughly clean. By clean is meant freedom from foreign matter. But if small seed are unclean, it is very difficult, well nigh impossible, to make them clean.
The third thing to look out for in seed is viability. We know from our testings that seeds which look to the attention to be all right may not develop whatsoever. There are reasons. Seeds may have been picked before they were ripe or older; they may have been frozen; and they may be too old. Seeds retain their viability or germ developing power, a given number of years and are then ineffective. There is a viability limit in yrs which differs for different seeds.
From your test of seeds we find out the germination percentage of seeds. Now if this percentage is low, don’t waste time planting such seed unless it be small seed. Immediately you question that declaration. Why does the size of the seed make a difference? This is the reason. When small seed is usually planted it is usually sown in exercises. Most amateurs sprinkle the seed in very thickly. So an excellent quantity of seed is planted. And enough seed germinates and pops up from such close planting. Therefore quantity makes up for quality.
But take the case of large seed, like corn for example. Corn can be planted just so far apart and a few seeds in a place. With such a method of planting the matter of percent, of germination is most important indeed.
Small seeds that germinate in fifty per cent. may be used but this really is too low a per cent. for the huge seed. Suppose we test coffee beans. The percentage is seventy. In case low-vitality seeds were planted, we could not be absolutely certain of the seventy per cent coming up. But if the seeds are lettuce go ahead with the planting.