Unfortunately, my pine tree (or rather sapling) has died over the winter. I did some research and it seems that I did everything wrong that I could do wrong. NO direct sunlight! Use pine bark as soil.
I got eight new seeds on Ebay and followed the instructions here. Well, I tried. Of the eight seeds, I could only use two, because I smashed the others trying to open their shell. Oops.
But the remaining two, I put into the fridge for about 10 days and then onto tissue paper and they germinated after about a week. I didn’t check the calender, because I didn’t know I was going to write about it and I didn’t really believe I would be successful. But I was! See:
I couldn’t easily get proper pine bark without ordering online and I had to go to a hardware store/ garden center anyway, so I got orchid soil, which should come close to the required stuff. Fingers crossed for the two new pine saplings!
Some weeks ago, my sister brought me these herbs in cans by Inspirion GmbH, but I’m sure there are other companies that sell those. What a kind and interesting idea.
Canned herbs: Mint, Oregano and Basil
Today, with it being the last but one day before a colder period, I decided to do some can gardening. I tried to follow the instructions in English first, because they were the first given. Soon, I discovered that the English (as well as the Italian) instruction are a bit faulty. So, I switched to German, which was almost perfect. And I decided to make an illustrated instruction, because I know that my sister got some cans for herself.
Turn upside down
Take off plastic lid and out the seed bag
Open can (drainage orifice)
Put plastic lid back on
Turn can again
Open second lid
Take some of the substance (vermiculite) out with a spoon
Yesterday, I got one of the medlar fruits from their stratification container on my balcony, because it is too warm during daytime anyway to call it stratification. I put the seeds into water overnight and sowed them today.
I also gave the ginkgo seeds from the egg carton pots proper pots, because the egg carton had started to rot and I was a bit concerned about my health. And I put the date seed that had germinated in vermiculite into a proper pot with proper soil. (Sorry for labelling the medlar seeds as “quince”, I had forgotten the name in English.) I only cut the egg carton “compartments” apart and put them into the new pots with the soil and the seeds.
medlar, date and ginkgo pots
Then I prepared a little something for my co-worker from Sicily. He had shown interest in the lemon seedlings, so I’m giving him one and one of the two pine seedlings. They’re his favourite tree.
I took the remaining four ginkgo seeds from the fridge today and sowed them into those little clay pots. I cracked the shells of two of them (the ones with the s-shape sign on the label) to see which ones might sprout earlier.
Gingko sown today
With this action, my greenhouses are completely full.
Some of the seeds in my pots (especially almond) have developed mould, so I had to dump them. They won’t germinated and it’s a health hazard for me, because they live (or try to live) in my bedroom. I thought to try something else to get them to germinate and than I got a date from my co-worker. 😀
Germinating Date Seeds
I got a date seed from my co-worker, who had been to the Green Week in Berlin (a trade fair for agriculture, horticulture and food industries). He had brought a box of three dates from Saudi-Arabia and offered me one. I ate it and kept the seed. He dumped his and I didn’t want to get them off his waste paper basket. So, I only took that one date seed home and soaked it in lukewarm water for four days. They don’t actually need four days, two or three are apparently enough, but I had to wait for the vermiculite.
Prevent Moulding With Vermiculite
I had done some research on how to germinate date seeds and found a website that recommended vermiculite. That’s a silicate mineral, very much comparable to cat litter. I got a litre on Ebay, just to test it. It comes in different grain sizes, you can see that I took a rather small one.
You put some of the vermiculite into a plastic box (luckily, I discovered 300 ml ice-cream boxes at my supermarket!), add some spoons of water, add the seeds and cover it up with more. Or you just put in more at the beginning, mix it and press the seeds into the vermiculite. Date seeds need a rather high temperature of 25°C (77°F), according to the website I consulted.
Date and Almond Seeds in Vermiculite
I have also put 7 almonds into vermiculite to make up for the rotten ones I dumped earlier. Fingers crossed!
I didn’t plan on growing a date tree, but like with the apples – I cannot resist any seeds anymore!
Addition February 9th:
Take great care not to add too much water or you will see this after some days:
I ordered 10 stone pine seeds on Ebay about two weeks ago, because my last attempt to get them to germinate was a complete failure.
Stratification, Soaking and Sowing
Stone Pine Seeds
It said on the label to put them in the fridge for 10 days. As I was away over the weekend, I let them in the fridge for 12 days. Then it said to put them in lukewarm water for 1 to 2 days. So I put them in a jar with water and put that on the heating. Today, the two days were over and I sowed them into three pots. I used a mixture of coffee dregs and soil, because mostly because it said on the label to use nutrient-rich soil.
I used plastic pots again this time, because I realized that the bio-degradable pots suck the water from the soil and I have to water those pots more often.
I read somewhere that they might only take 10 days to germinate. Wouldn’t that be great? Fingers crossed.
Some days ago, I discovered blood oranges at the supermarket and wanted to make my favourite Sicilian Blood Oranges Salad. I got the recipe from my Sicilian co-worker. They only had a net of them, although I only needed about four, so I took six to work and made juice. Of course they had to have pips and I was tempted and couldn’t resist. So into my mouth they went while I squeezed all the yummy juice from them. It took me a while to squeeze them all, but when I was finished, I put the seeds into a glass of water. Don’t try to answer to anyone with a mouth full of orange pips! It’s really difficult. Back at home after work, I sowed those 12 blood orange pips into the previously mentioned egg carton nursery pots, where I had 4 patches left over after sowing the ginkgo seeds. However, I will just take down their germination period, keep one of them and dump the rest, because I really don’t have the space anymore.
By accident, I deleted the pictures I took of that, so pictures of the salad will have to suffice.
Sicilian Blood Orange Salad
Sicilian Blood Oranges Salad
It is a very nice winter salad with loads of vitamins.
You need: blood oranges, chicory, olives, onions, olive oil, pepper, salt and actually parsley, which I tend to forget to buy. Molto delicioso! I often prepare it with normal oranges or grapefruits, but those little pieces of sunset just make it look so much better. Also, after I had pealed the oranges, my kitchen looked like a tiny pig had been slaughtered in there.
Last weekend, I wanted to order some pine seeds from Ebay, because my last attempt to get them to germinate failed epically. To make the shipping costs more worthwhile, I checked out this guy’s shop and found Ginkgo seeds. I didn’t have Ginkgo biloba on my wishlist, but this is such a cool tree and I think the oldest species around. So why not? I was curious what the seeds would look like, but didn’t really have a mental image or something. This living fossil was declared Tree of the Millenium in Germany, but I couldn’t find which millenium. Too bad.
I had ordered 10, but there were 11 in the bag, probably because one of the shells was already broken so much that the seed almost fell out.
Sowing Ginkgo Seeds
It said on the instruction that came with the seeds to put them in the fridge for 4 weeks at 4-5°C (39-41°F). I think I measured once that my fridge has 8°C. Anyway, I cracked the quite soft and thin shells a bit with the back-end of a knife and put half of them into a wet paper towel and into a plastic box with a lid and into the fridge. (I will read my fridge manual tomorrow, if I can find it.) The other half I put into warm water and will let it soak for 24 hours. That was also suggested in the instruction, but for after the 4 week period of stratification.
Ginkgo Seeds on wet paper towel
Wet Paper towel folded together
Soaking Ginkgo Seeds
That was the day before yesterday. Today I put the six seeds having been soaked overnight into soil. Yesterday, I put them into the egg carton nursery pots I had come up with yesterday. The minute I had put them in, I remembered that I had just 5 minutes earlier thought it a stupid idea to put them into a bio-degradable pot because of their long germination period. Well, too late. I will be more considerate with the ones in stratification. The instruction doesn’t say anything about the germination period and temperature, but I read in another blog that the ideal temperature is 21-24°C (70-75°F). It suggested sand, so I will hopefully remember to use a mixture of sand and potting compost. (I forgot about that yesterday…)
I don’t remember how it came to me, probably while eating almonds, but I had the idea to try and grow almond trees from seeds. I thought about where to get almond seeds. The obvious idea was to get it from the baking department of the supermarket. But then, who knows how long they would’ve been in the shelf. On the other hand, I thought, the weeks right after Christmas would be the ideal time, because many almonds are sold during Christmas time and the supermarket probably just restocked. So I bought a bag of organic almond seeds (with skin). But I remembered that sometimes they are sold with their shell still around. So I went to an organic supermarket and got five of these.
Almonds with Shells Intact
How to get almonds to germinate
Then, I thought that the shells seemed really hard and that I should try and crack them at least a tiny bit. That’s why I bought a nut cracker last week! However, it (or I) wasn’t strong enough to crack them with the nut cracker, so I took my good old mortar and pestle and hit them hard. Too hard, because I didn’t manage just to crack the shell a bit – all of them where shattered. I even crushed some almonds. But those fed me well. I had 5 shells with 7 almonds, but could only use 3 further.
I watched some videos of people who had more or less successfully gotten almonds to germinate and tried to follow the instructions of the more successful attempts. I soaked the almonds in water for four days and then put them into potting compost with the pointed end down.
Almonds in bio-degradable pots
Almonds in plastic bowls
I put the ones from the shells into bio-degradable pots and the “baking almonds” into a plastic bowl. I had cut some holes in the bottom and put the perforated bowl into another bowl, so the water could drain. Don’t let the photographs fool you – I added a layer of soil onto those pots.
Now waiting time begins. Some people wrote about three months of germination period for almonds. I hope that’s not true! We’ll see and I will keep you updated.
Almonds as Part of the Prunus Genus
When I did some research on Wikipedia on Almonds, I found out that they belong to the Prunus genus- as do peaches, apricots, cherries, plums, cherry laurel, and blackthorn. It’s a vast genus! And so many of them are delicious.
After being so successful with my attempts to grow lemon and pomegranate from seeds, I had grown a bit impatient about my olive seeds (and many of the others, but that’s a different matter). I have also watched some videos about germinating seeds and one was about olives. The guy in the video suggested to crack the seeds for better chances of germination. A happy coincidence has it that I had just bought a nutcracker today (for different purposes – but that story is for another day).
If you have read more of my blog, you might know that I had brought olive seeds from my trip through Turkey – three from Gümüşlük (or Gumusluk) and three from the Asclepeion in Pergamon/ Bergama. So, I turned the pots over and tried to find each tree seeds in the soil. I cleaned them under running water and carefully cracked them open. The tree from Bergama seemed fine, but two of the ones from Gumusluk had disintegrated. The photograph shows the three olive seeds from Bergama.
Cracked olive seeds and shells
You can see that one seed is still half covered by the shell, but I didn’t dare cracking it more for fear of hurting the seed. Anyway, if it germinates, the root will need less effort to get out.