• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies living kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • raven ranson
  • paul wheaton
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Julia Winter
stewards:
  • Burra Maluca
  • Devaka Cooray
  • Bill Erickson
garden masters:
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Bryant RedHawk
  • Mike Jay
gardeners:
  • Joseph Lofthouse
  • Dan Boone
  • Daron Williams

Perennials that are difficult to grow from seed?  RSS feed

 
Posts: 17
Location: Taos, New Mexico at 7000 ft. - Zone 5
2
forest garden solar
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Our "Slice of Paradise" food forest is about to get the last major planting to attempt to fill the understory. We have 35 fruit and nut trees scattered about the property with 25 or so species of herbaceous perennials but I want more. I've mapped the hell out of the tree basins and planned where species can go. Now that the planned planting volume is 200+ seedlings, I can no longer afford to purchase all these as starts from local or other nurseries. This will be the first time I've planted "starts". I've been warned by my wife that it's not always so easy. I've already encountered info on seed packets about scarification that seems daunting. I read that a bit of sulfuric acid might do the trick and I'm comfortable with doing that, but how much? The question becomes, which species should I not even dream of growing from seed? I've done some research, but I could see this taking days and I'm already beat from mapping/planning/sourcing all winter. I assume the super weirdos I'm better off getting as tubers/seedlings, etc. But what about all the others? I also know about some in my list are self-sowing annuals and therefore should be growable by broadcasting and raking into the soil a bit.

So...the info I could really use is: Which ones are a no-go (purchase seedlings), and for those that are doable... seed depth, seed prep needs, to cover or not, unique germination needs, varieties you like that might do well in the high desert. So consider those the columns of my info grid... and here's my list of species (the rows of my info grid). What advice/resources might you have? Thanks in advance y'all!

nettle                   rumor is easy to grow from seed

comfrey

leek

yarrow

lemon balm         because a mint, yes?

chives

violets                 self-sowing annual so yes?

welsh onion

Egyptian walking onion

borage                self-sowing annual so yes?

prairie cinquefoil

German chamomile      self-sowing annual so yes?

edible hosta

lovage

nasturtium                  self-sowing annual so yes?

echinacea (purpurea)     

good king henry

groundnut (Apios americana)

Chinese artichoke (Stachys affinis)

Turkish rocket (Bunias orientalis)

Chinese mountain yam

earth pea (Lathyrus tuberosus)

sweet cicely

sorrel

cream wild indigo (Baptisia bracteata)

basil                           self-sowing annual so yes?

jerusalem artichoke

asparagus

cilantro                       self-sowing annual so yes?

sweet woodruff

kale

fennel

horseradish

miner's lettuce           self-sowing annual so yes?

chickpea/cicer milkvetch (Astragalus cicer)

Groundplum milkvetch (Astragalus crassicarpus)

Lacy phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia)

wild strawberry (Frugaria virginiana)







 
gardener
Posts: 3475
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
812
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator


Egyptian walking onion: Typically sterile, therefore planted as bulbils.
Jerusalem artichoke: Unlikely to be able to buy seeds of improved varieties. Recommend rhizomes.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1108
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
163
books forest garden rabbit solar tiny house woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Mike, I have zero experience growing in your region. But I do grow a number of the plants in your list, and start them from seed. BUT, I start my seeds in a greenhouse, not out in the open soil. So I can't say which would germinate and survive by simply sowing and raking in. But it would be a good experiment to try a small patch and see how they do. Personally I wouldn't sow a lot of seed until I knew which varieties the method would work with. I guess I'm just a seed miser and hate wasting seed and garden space. Thus I start my seeds in flats and transplant the seedlings into grow-on pots before transplanting outdoors.
 
gardener
Posts: 1625
Location: USDA Zone 8a
261
bee dog food preservation greening the desert hunting cooking purity trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have read to follow the instructions on the seed packet which is what I do.

From your list these are the ones I have experience with:

Yarrow - mine came up in the garden from seed.  Not a good germination rate though.

Lemon Balm is one I could not get to germinate, so after several tries I purchased a transplant.  Try using the wet paper towel to see if you get germination then plant the seedling.

I didn't have any luck with loveage but that could have been my seed source.

echinacea (purpurea) - I used the wet paper towel method then put in peat pots.  This variety doen not need stratification.

I don't have experience with these though I suspect that they need stratification.  Try putting the the fridge for a month or follow the planting instructions:  chickpea/cicer milkvetch (Astragalus cicer)
Groundplum milkvetch (Astragalus crassicarpus)
Lacy phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia)
wild strawberry (Frugaria virginiana)




 
pollinator
Posts: 1223
Location: northern northern california
85
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
theres a few there i dont have any knowledge of but the only one that pops out as being difficult from seed is comfrey.

I will assume you want to grow "true" comfrey, which is the only kind you can get seed for, and i understand it to be very difficult to start.
bocking (several different "bocking" types )
and most of the russian comfrey types do not make seed and are sterile. comfrey spreads so easily by roots, that its actually something of a blessing that it doesnt also spread rapidly by seed as many cultivars are sterile.

but anywho that might be something to get as live plants and /or root divisions...especially if you want one of the Bocking types as they do not make seed.

horseradish is also generally started from plants/roots...and walking onions are generally started from bulb, even the "seed " of walking onions is a tiny bulb.

chamomile and strawberry both must be surface sown, do not cover the seed, just press them on top of the wet soil and keep the top of the soil moist.

the rest are pretty straight forward...at least the rest that i know about.
 
gardener
Posts: 393
Location: Sierra Nevadas, CA 6400'
110
dog hugelkultur trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have found starting most perennials from seed to be very difficult, but I'm not sure that has much to do with the seeds or genetics. It's more than I'm new to seeds that require stratification / scarification, and it's a good bit of a learning curve to figure out a successful strategy. To me a lot of this comes down to the path of least resistance and the timeliness required. For example, last year I spent an incredible amount of time researching the plant's needs, collecting hundreds elderberry seeds, cleaning out the fruit, scarifying them with sulfuric acid, cold stratifying them, then trying to start them. None of them sprouted. This year I spent about 5 minutes taking cuttings in the fall, and all but one of them have buds opening up now. I haven't given up on starting some from seed, but it's clearly a no-brainer for me at this point to use cuttings to get more elderberries.

Out of your list, there's a few that I wouldn't hesitate to buy root cuttings / crowns for. Comfrey, Asparagus, Onions, Sunchokes, Horseradish, and Strawberry. If you can't afford to buy the number you need right now, plant the ones you can afford and split them up next year. It's all very possible to start these from seeds, but the return on effort is going to be through the roof with cuttings.
 
Mike Musialowski
Posts: 17
Location: Taos, New Mexico at 7000 ft. - Zone 5
2
forest garden solar
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:

Egyptian walking onion: Typically sterile, therefore planted as bulbils.
Jerusalem artichoke: Unlikely to be able to buy seeds of improved varieties. Recommend rhizomes.



Perfect, thanks, makes sense for most tubers/bulbs. thanks!
 
Mike Musialowski
Posts: 17
Location: Taos, New Mexico at 7000 ft. - Zone 5
2
forest garden solar
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Su Ba wrote:Mike, I have zero experience growing in your region. But I do grow a number of the plants in your list, and start them from seed. BUT, I start my seeds in a greenhouse, not out in the open soil. So I can't say which would germinate and survive by simply sowing and raking in. But it would be a good experiment to try a small patch and see how they do. Personally I wouldn't sow a lot of seed until I knew which varieties the method would work with. I guess I'm just a seed miser and hate wasting seed and garden space. Thus I start my seeds in flats and transplant the seedlings into grow-on pots before transplanting outdoors.



Thanks sooooo much for the reminder to start small. I'm a workaholic by nature and tend to overbuild any project I begin. And yes, I plan to try starts in flats, either indoors or in cold frames. Thanks!
 
Mike Musialowski
Posts: 17
Location: Taos, New Mexico at 7000 ft. - Zone 5
2
forest garden solar
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Anne Miller wrote:I have read to follow the instructions on the seed packet which is what I do.

From your list these are the ones I have experience with:

Yarrow - mine came up in the garden from seed.  Not a good germination rate though.

Lemon Balm is one I could not get to germinate, so after several tries I purchased a transplant.  Try using the wet paper towel to see if you get germination then plant the seedling.

I didn't have any luck with loveage but that could have been my seed source.

echinacea (purpurea) - I used the wet paper towel method then put in peat pots.  This variety doen not need stratification.

I don't have experience with these though I suspect that they need stratification.  Try putting the the fridge for a month or follow the planting instructions:  chickpea/cicer milkvetch (Astragalus cicer)
Groundplum milkvetch (Astragalus crassicarpus)
Lacy phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia)
wild strawberry (Frugaria virginiana)

Thanks! I've seen my wife do the wet paper towel method, so I'll try it. That's feels similar to the jar method of starting sprouts. Is there any reason to not do them like sprouts so you get more starts? I know that some of the fragile seedlings get damaged as you try to pull them out of the jar. You know I've had lovage and lemon balm growing here the last year and I've hand-shredded the seed heads (whatever was left of them after an autumn and winter of wind) to disperse seeds near by. I'll see what sprouts this spring. .  I'll try it all.


 
Mike Musialowski
Posts: 17
Location: Taos, New Mexico at 7000 ft. - Zone 5
2
forest garden solar
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

leila hamaya wrote:theres a few there i dont have any knowledge of but the only one that pops out as being difficult from seed is comfrey.

I will assume you want to grow "true" comfrey, which is the only kind you can get seed for, and i understand it to be very difficult to start.
bocking (several different "bocking" types )
and most of the russian comfrey types do not make seed and are sterile. comfrey spreads so easily by roots, that its actually something of a blessing that it doesnt also spread rapidly by seed as many cultivars are sterile.

but anywho that might be something to get as live plants and /or root divisions...especially if you want one of the Bocking types as they do not make seed.

horseradish is also generally started from plants/roots...and walking onions are generally started from bulb, even the "seed " of walking onions is a tiny bulb.

chamomile and strawberry both must be surface sown, do not cover the seed, just press them on top of the wet soil and keep the top of the soil moist.

the rest are pretty straight forward...at least the rest that i know about.



Right about comfrey, duh. I've been told a 1/4 inch of root will grow a new plant. Comfrey does so well here that this is a no-brainer. Thanks!
And yes, I have read about certain perennials needing sunlight to germinate and to surface sow, so thanks for adding that to my list of helpful hints! :-
 
Mike Musialowski
Posts: 17
Location: Taos, New Mexico at 7000 ft. - Zone 5
2
forest garden solar
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Kyle Neath wrote:I have found starting most perennials from seed to be very difficult, but I'm not sure that has much to do with the seeds or genetics. It's more than I'm new to seeds that require stratification / scarification, and it's a good bit of a learning curve to figure out a successful strategy. To me a lot of this comes down to the path of least resistance and the timeliness required. For example, last year I spent an incredible amount of time researching the plant's needs, collecting hundreds elderberry seeds, cleaning out the fruit, scarifying them with sulfuric acid, cold stratifying them, then trying to start them. None of them sprouted. This year I spent about 5 minutes taking cuttings in the fall, and all but one of them have buds opening up now. I haven't given up on starting some from seed, but it's clearly a no-brainer for me at this point to use cuttings to get more elderberries.

Out of your list, there's a few that I wouldn't hesitate to buy root cuttings / crowns for. Comfrey, Asparagus, Onions, Sunchokes, Horseradish, and Strawberry. If you can't afford to buy the number you need right now, plant the ones you can afford and split them up next year. It's all very possible to start these from seeds, but the return on effort is going to be through the roof with cuttings.



Great, yes, propagation by division seems indeed to be so much more efficient! Query: when you use cuttings of elderberry, do you plant them with any rooting hormone? Willow juice? or just straight in the ground? :-) Thanks for your help.
 
Posts: 19
Location: Northern Kentucky
3
forest garden homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I made the mistake out starting comfry from seed, which germinated very easily and continues to do so, I have to be very careful to chop and drop before the seeds mature. Sorry bees.

With the elderberry, I suggest finding young plants to dig up, I was brutal digging mine up, chopped off most of the roots some plants only had small one inch sections of roots still attached when I planted them. They all thrived for me. Rooted so easily, even with no fine root hairs, that I imagine you could take any one year shoot and just stab it in the ground and keep it watered. Rooting hormone would help for sure but I doubt it is really nessacery.
 
gardener
Posts: 1459
Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
161
food preservation greening the desert solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have had good success growing asparagus from seed. I have gotten seed from various websites, including rareseeds.com and Johnny's seeds. If you've got a friend with an asparagus patch, they may have lots of seeds or seedlings to share.

I had no luck with most perennial herb seeds in previous years, but last year I guess we had a nice cloudy spring so my greenhouse didn't overheat, and so rosemary (primed seeds from Johnny's Seeds), thyme and nettles all germinated well. I grow lemon balm, oregano, catnip (or is it catmint?) and mint all from bits of root acquired from friends over time, rather than from seeds.
 
Posts: 7
Location: the mountains of western nc
food preservation forest garden trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
All the 'self seeding annuals so yes'...yes.

Also turkish rocket I've found to be very easy from seed.
 
I AM MIGHTY! Especially when I hold this tiny ad:
Binge on 17 Seasons of Permaculture Design Monkeys!
http://permaculture-design-course.com
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!