Fooler offers seed test tricks

Garden columnist only fools around on April 1, not in the garden

Forgive me if, just for a moment, I talk about April 1.

This is one of my favourite days of the year. I love to fool people if I can, and some years it is a resounding success leaving me with a hopeless case of the giggles.

Before this important day I spend long evenings dreaming up lies to fool my friends, and this year is no different. I never say mean or cruel things, just harmless stuff. One year we had a storm March 31, and the following morning  I called a bird watcher friend, and asked if he had heard the news that a flight of pelicans had been blown off course and were sitting on poles down by the Sidney pier. He yelled, “Oh boy, I’m out of here” and I had to scream “April fool” to stop him from a fruitless trip (birdless, too).

My kids are aware of my evil ways, and I can seldom fool them. actually they wait for the call and are disappointed if I don’t make an effort. Meanwhile back at the ranch … er … I mean back in the garden …

On the balcony there is a large pot of Kaufmanniana tulips in bloom (they aren’t as dramatic as I had hoped, being a pale yellow instead of the brilliant red I had dreamed of.) There are scilla, and chiondoxa flowering in blues in a long planter where the geraniums are making new growth, and to my delight the third giant allium has shown up in the pot of now, three. It is a modest garden, but it gives me considerable pleasure, and my friends do help a great deal, bringing me flowers from my former garden (Annie) or big beautiful pansies from her balcony (Ingrid) and then there are the pink flowering trees just below my bedroom window, so all is not lost just because I now live in a condo.

If you have saved seed from last year it would make sense to test for germination, so you don’t seed the vegetables and flowers and wait and wait and wait for something to show up, and are still standing there waiting in mid-summer.

To test, take a piece of paper towel and wet it, spread seeds on it and cover with another wet paper towel. Put on a source of heat (top of the fridge, hot water heater or suspended just above a heating cable). Viable seeds should show a white root within 10 days, and be ready to transplant into soil, either inside, or if hardy, outside.

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.


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