“Science Project”: Determining the Germination Period for Stone Pine Seeds

Norman C. Deno’s Seed Germination Theory and Practice

This morning, I came across the book Seed Germination Theory and Practice by Norman C. Deno (available as pdf here). As I have only discovered it this morning, I have not read it entirely and I doubt that I will, because he seems to deal mainly with flower seeds, but he only uses the Latin names.
There is kind of a summary on this page, though, which again I haven’t read in its entirety, I have to admit.
Anyway, the main points I took from browsing both website and pdf is that Norman C. Deno and Brent Walston both don’t believe in stratification to be the solution for all seeds. I liked that idea, firstly because they question all the stuff that is posted and reposted again and again and secondly, because I don’t want to wait for my seeds to rest in the fridge for weeks and months.
As Norman C. Deno apparently “only” tested flower seeds (but thousands of them, mind you) and I want answers for tree seeds, I decided to start my own little “science project”. I put it in quotes, because with the small data I can collect it’ll probably not be very scientific. Anyway, he proposed a method to test several ways to get seeds to germinate which I have tried to reproduce. On page 13 of his book (page 19 in the pdf), he explains how to do it and I mainly copied his method.

Setting Up The Experiment

This is how I did it:
I used 60 pine nuts – bought in the supermarket where they were sold for consumption, but I won’t get pine nuts easily anywhere else. I also needed some paper towel of high wet strength (the one I bought isn’t very strong, but it’s the best I could get), polyethylene bags (I have loads of those, not because I smoke weed, but because the LEGO I buy used comes in them) that can be sealed, a waterproof pen, a plant atomizer  and maybe scissors.

I made four batches of 15 pine nuts, folded each paper towel three times and cut them in a way they would fit into my plastic bags. If you have large enough bags, you might not need to cut the towels. Then you write the name of the plant you got the seeds from and date on the “front page” of the towel. Then you open the last fold of the towel, moisten it with the help of the plant atomizer, put your 15 (or whatever number) seeds onto the wet part, maybe moisten it again a bit and close it. Then you put your package into the polyethylene bag and close it, but not entirely, so that some air circulation is possible and “to insure aerobic conditions”, as Deno puts it.
Afterwards you think where to put it. (Of course, you can think about that when you prepare all the above mentioned stuff.)

I put one bag in the fridge (stratification test), one into the mini greenhouse, one in the cubby and one in the cellar, which probably has a similar temperature to the cubby but less light. I should’ve found some place with temperatures below 4°C, but I didn’t know where. The freezer? Should be more like 0°C or less.
Deno recommends certain brands of paper towel, polyethylene bags and even waterproof marker. The most important point to me seems his concern with the plastic bags. He says to use bags with very thin “walls” to ensure permeability of oxygen. I only had those, so I hope they will work.
Now, I have to wait.


I do hope that at least some of them will germinate, but I don’t know for how long they have been in the bag they were sold in…and if that’s bad for their ability to germinate.
Drying seeds does not have to have a negative effect on them, as Norman C. Deno points out and is even necessary for some of them. I mean, obviously, otherwise stores couldn’t sell seeds. It’s just important to know which can handle it and which can’t. Room for another experiment. I might try apple pips next time. They’re more easily and cheaper available and I can eat the fruit.
Maybe it’s an idea for a kid’s science project, too. It might wanna use a species that germinates quicker like beans or something, though.

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