Any reliable seed house can be relied upon for good seeds; but even so, there is a great risk in seed products. A seed may to all looks be all right and yet not have within it vitality enough, or strength, to produce a hardy plant.
If you save seed from your own plants you are able to choose carefully. Suppose you are saving seeds of aster plants. What flowers shall you decide upon? Now it is not the blossom only which you must consider, but the entire plant.
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Exactly why? Because a weak, straggly plant might produce one fine blossom. Looking at that one blossom so really beautiful you think of the numberless equally lovely plants you are going to have from the seeds. But just as likely as not the particular seeds will produce plants such as the parent plant.
So in seeds selection the entire plant is to be regarded. Is it sturdy, strong, well formed and symmetrical; does it have a goodly number of fine blossoms? These are queries to ask in seed selection.
If you should happen to have the opportunity to visit the seedsman’s garden, you will see here and there a blossom with a string tied around it. These are blossoms chosen with regard to seed. If you look at the whole plant with care you will be able to see the points which the gardener held in mind when he did his work of choice.
In seed selection size is another point to hold in mind. Now we know no way of telling anything about the plant life from which this special collection of seeds came. So we must give the entire thought to the seeds on their own. It is quite evident that there is some choice; some are much larger than the others; several far plumper, too. By all means select the largest and fullest seed. The reason is this: When you break open a bean and this is very evident, too, in the peanut you see what seems to be a little plant. So it is. Under just the right conditions for development this ‘little chap’ grows into the bean plant you know so well.
This little plant must depend for its early growth on the nourishment stored upward in the two halves of the bean seed. For this purpose the food is saved. Beans are not full of food and amazing benefits for you and me to eat, but for the little baby bean plant to feed upon. And so if we select a large seed, we have chosen a better amount of food for the plantlet. This particular little plantlet feeds upon this particular stored food until its root base are prepared to do their work. When the seed is small plus thin, the first food supply insufficient, there is a possibility of losing the little plant.
You may care to know the name of this kitchen of food. It is called a cotyledon if there is but one portion, cotyledons if two. Thus we have been aided in the classification of plants. A few plants that bear cones like the pines have several cotyledons. But most plants have either one or even two cotyledons.
From large seed products come the strongest plantlets. That is the reason why it is better and safer to pick the large seed. It is the same situation exactly as that of weak children.
There is certainly often another trouble in seed products that we buy. The trouble is impurity. Seeds are sometimes mixed with other seeds so like them in appearance that it must be impossible to detect the scams. Pretty poor business, is it not? The seeds may be unclean. Bits of foreign matter in with large seeds are very easy to discover. One can simply pick the seed over and make it thoroughly clean. By clean is meant freedom from foreign matter. But if small seeds are unclean, it is very difficult, well nigh impossible, to make them thoroughly clean.
The third thing to look out for in seeds is viability. We know from our testings that seeds which look to the eye to be all right may not develop at all. There are reasons. Seeds may have been picked before they were ripe or fully developed; they may have been frozen; and they may be too old. Seeds retain their viability or germ developing strength, a given number of years and are then useless. There is a viability limit in years which differs for different seeds.
From the test of seeds we find out the germination percentage of seeds. Now if this percentage is low, don’t waste time planting such seed unless it be small seed. Immediately you question that declaration. Why does the size of the seed make a difference? This is the reason. When small seed is usually planted it is usually sown in exercises. Most amateurs sprinkle the seeds in very thickly. So a great quantity of seed is planted. And enough seed germinates and pops up from such close planting. So quantity makes up for quality.
But take the case of large seeds, like corn for example. Corn can be planted just so far apart and a few seeds in a place. With this type of method of planting the matter of percent, of germination is most important indeed.
Small seeds that germinate in fifty per cent. may be used but this is too low a per cent. for the huge seed. Suppose we test beans. The percentage is seventy. In the event that low-vitality seeds were planted, we could not be absolutely certain of the seventy per cent coming up. But if the seeds are member of the lettuce family go ahead with the planting.