Confessions of a seed addict

It appears that I have acquired a reputation amongst my blogging and twitter friends of being a seed addict – goodness knows why!

Well if I’m honest I do get particularly excited at the potential that comes with each small packet of seeds.  In this day and age with soaring costs and tightening budgets there aren’t many things you can buy for a couple of pounds with the potential to provide so much enjoyment.

I find that I am constantly learning as I garden and understanding more and more how plants grow and what they need to grow well.  I understand  now that some seeds need cold to break seed dormancy; some need their seed coats broken, maybe by a light sanding; some need to be sown while fresh and some need light to germinate whilst others need darkness. Learning these lessons has improved my propagation skills and I no longer cautiously choose only the seed marked as ‘easy’ to try.

And for me that what it’s all about – trying and seeing what happens.  I do like a challenge.  So this year’s challenge is to try some more troublesome seeds such as strelitzia reginae.  These apparently need to be subjected to smoke in order to prompt germination and I have bought some from Fine Bush People in South Africa which comes complete with a smoke primer.  This is a slice of paper which is soaked with various things that simulate the chemical reaction the seed would experience if exposed to fire and smoke in the wild.  I love the seeds they are so cute with their orange fluffy heads.

Whilst I was wandering around Fine Bush’s website I decided to give their Healing Start Pack a go.  This contains seeds for aloe ferox, cotyledon orbiculata, geranium incanum, bulbine frutescens, leonotis leonurus.  What has impressed me so far with the seeds from Fine Bush is the information pack that comes with the seeds.  In the healing pack there is information about how to use each plant for medicinal reasons – something that really interests me.

And how did I end up on Fine Bush’s website.  It was all because I had some seeds for romneya coulteri and my research told me that they benefitted from smoke for germination.  It was surprisingly difficult to find smoke primers and in fact the only ones I found were from South Africa.  I don’t know if these will work for my romneya coulteri as they are from the US and therefore the smoke that would improve their germination rates derives from different plants to those growing in South Africa.  Never the mind we shall see what happens.  I intend to try half the seeds with the smoke primer and half without just to see how important it is.  The other downside of buying seeds from South Africa was that my credit card company thought my card had been stolen and put a freeze on it until I explained my seed addiction to them!

Sadly, despite my enthusiasm I have to wait a while for temperatures to warm up a bit before I start my sowing experiment.

18 Comments on “Confessions of a seed addict

  1. Goodness – you really are hooked – I don’t think I would go as far as you with my seed fascination, but I still get a thrill from the ordinary and everyday seeds.

  2. I’ve got loads of half empty packs. I hate throwing them away. I know I take a chance but it’s surprising how long some of them do last.


  3. You are being adventurous, how lovely. I am also a seedaholic, I always buy more than I can possibly sow. But the joy every time a seed germinates is just wonderful. Good luck with your smoking.

  4. seedaholics unite.
    I have boxes and boxes of seeds, – but each year I succomb to something new and exciting, – i’m trying some dark coloured penstemons this season, and even though I said I didn’t need any more seeds, i’ve just put in a Sarah Raven order for a horrendous price, – oh well, – at least i’ll be able to eat that lot.

  5. So exciting Helen! I am looking forward to hearing how you get on with your smoke primer.

    Every year I eye up strelitzia reginae seed and wonder if I should try it. As you know I also have romneya coulteri seeds – but no smoke!

  6. I just got the seeds I ordered in the mail! I’m so excited, so I can understand your addiction, even though I’m still in the ‘easy’ stage! Interesting about the smoke – it will be a great experiment to see how much it affects the seeds. I would have loved to have seen the credit card representative’s face on the phone while you were trying to explain your seed addiction!

  7. I thought I was addicted…two bins of seeds all in Alphabetical order…now the schedules begin and the learning…I had not even considered anything so exotic…can’t wait to hear how it all works out…

  8. Wow, that is adventurous seedophilia! I hadn’t even heard of smoke primers, though I knew some plants had evolved to make the most of fire and other natural phenomena. Love the fluffy orange seeds, and look forward to seeing how they grow. I’m really impatient to start the seed growing in earnest. Perhaps I’ll test the water with a few chillis soon, they like a long growing season.

  9. When I first saw those Strelitzia seeds rolling around on the patio, I thought they were bits of plastic junk. That neon orange is never natural! But it is ;~) I was wondering why all your healing plants had familiar faces …
    If the Romneya is Californian I would guess they’ll find fynbos smoke acceptable.

  10. Oh my Helen, you might be having way too much fun – can’t wait to see if those South African seeds make it. After many crop failures, I’m back to the things I know I can do, like agastache and foxgloves – not for me the daredevil sowing 🙂

  11. Yes I’m another member of seedaholics!
    Looking forward to hearing how you get on with the seeds.

  12. Wow! Totally impressed – can’t wait to see how they all come out. Hadn’t got a clue such crazy stuff happened in the plant world…great fun!

  13. Good for you, Helen! Nothing like just giving it a go to see what happens. I am still in remedial seed class… I know all the facts, but have yet to execute very well. I am reading “AHS Plant Propagation” to help fill in my gaps… mostly with preventing damping off. Any advice??

  14. Well done you! That is seedaholic big time. I thought I was bad enough with my tins of seed packets waiting for the Spring. I am a budget seed buyer though, so they don’t always come to fruition or are as exciting or exotcit as your smoke needing seeds. I get sucked into buing 3 for the price of 2 a Wilkinsons 🙂

  15. A smoke primer? That is real dedication, Helen. But it is exciting and satisfying when a really difficult seed germinates. I got a few in the fridge to try. I’m sure you will tell us how you get on.

  16. Oooooooh – you have real some goodies Helen here. The smoke priming aspect sounds rather exciting. Was postage expensive? Your comment about what happened with your credit made me smile. I crossed the border to the exotic destination of North Wales for a day and used my debit card to pay for some shopping as I did not have enough cash. Got to the autobank a few minutes later and was mystified as I was not allowed to make a withdrawal 😦 Back home and there was a message to phone bank fraud department urgently. My card had been stopped!

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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