Thursday, March 1, 2012

Starting from Seed - Herbs

If you like this photo, please link to it! But don't steal it, please!

One of the more frustrating aspects of growing from seed is that I can never find a photo online of what the seedlings of a particular plant are supposed to look like.

I mean, is that one sad sprout a week after planting an early riser, or is it a weed seed that flew in, landed, and germinated?! Should I write off that particular container as a dud altogether at this point or not?

They say that "patience is a virtue". How true that is. I'm not patient in the least. I put Ziploc bags over my seedling containers (typically used coffee cups) to up the heat and humidity and force fast germination. I'm always walking that thin line between heating of the seed and soil and actual steam-cooking of the whole micro-environment. Impatience reigns supreme.

This is one of the ways I make secondary use of the dry cleaner's nasty plastic film

Just a short post today, to show off some little green sprouts. I'm hoping that this blog post can be a reference page to anyone out there on the internet trying to find out what epazote seedlings look like right after germination, or what chervil looks like in its infancy. If you don't know the difference between monocots and dicots, chances are you'll be mystified to see long, skinny fingers of green poking out of your chive pot, while you see the stereotypical two-leaved sprouts where you scattered thyme seed. (Monocot = 1 "seed leaf", and includes plants like chives, grasses (including wheat), bamboo, palm trees, orchids, and a gazillion other examples. Dicots have two "seed leaves" (cotyledons - that's where the "cot" comes from) and include pretty well anything that isn't a monocot!).

There's a reason why I don't write Wikipedia entries. Hopefully the photos will speak their respective 1000 words.

MONOCOT: Chive seedlings in a reused cream carton. The black seed is still clinging to the sprouts!
DICOT: Basil seedlings in a reused coffee cup. In the centre you can see another seed clinging on!

So here's a small selection of newly germinated seedlings from this year's herb pots. I hope it provides a good visual reference for all those folks squinting at the soil and wondering what exactly was planted in that pot! (This year I planted both chervil and epazote for the first time . . . and I didn't label the pots beforehand. I'm pretty sure I have them figured out now, but it took longer than it should have to find a picture of either of them in Google images!).

Never heard of epazote? I hadn't either until recently! Link here to the West Coast Seeds page. I can't help but wonder if this was that terrific flavour in the black beans of casado and in pico de gallo that I enjoyed so much in Costa Rica! This summer, I'll find out for sure!

Chamomile (German, I think) seedlings

Chervil seedlings

Epazote seedlings (pretty in pink!)

Parsley seedlings and some ungerminated seeds atop soil

Thyme (English) seedlings

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