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Seed stratification problems

Stone pine seedling...maybeIs that a baby stone pine?  Hmm, I don't know.  What do you think?

The problem with my stratification method --- toss the seeds in a garden bed and wait over the winter --- has become clear.  I very rarely mark anything in the garden because I write down which bed I've planted seeds in and I know how to distinguish vegetable seedlings from weed seedlings.  But what do you do when you've planted seeds that will turn into unknown seedlings, like the stone pine, honey locust, and persimmon seeds I popped into the garden to stratify this winter?  By definition, these guys need extensive time in the ground before they'll sprout, which means I've been scared to weed those beds for the last six months in fear I'll pull out my tree seedlings.  Now I'm left wondering whether a few odd seedlings are the ones I've been waiting for, or whether my carefully collected seeds came up and choked amid the weed patch.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but winter sowing would have come in handy here.  That's actually how I started my first persimmon seeds --- I popped them in a pot of soil and forgot about them until seedlings miraculously sprang up many months later.  Maybe I'm going to have to start this experiment over next year, keeping better track of where my slow-to-germinate seedlings are located?

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This post is part of our Farm Experiments lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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