SO EASY A CAVEMAN COULD DO IT!
We've already told you how easy it is to propagate Lucky Bamboo - so easy a caveman could do it! There are lots more plants you can grow from seed, for FREE! In fact, I wouldn't doubt but what cavemen actually grew some of these themselves.
When you decide to experiment, be sure you use a little planning and don't be as spontaneous as I sometimes am. For instance, I once stuck a grapefruit seed into a pot of squirrel foot ferns. Before long, I was rewarded with the basic two leaves of the little tree sticking up above the air roots of the fern. Soon, the baby tree was six inches tall, getting second and third sets of leaves. They were glossy green and very pretty.
Several months later, I realized I had a problem. I couldn't get the tree out of the pot without taking the fern out as well. I didn't want to break the pot as it was a very nicely patterned hand-made pot. I wound up cutting the little tree off above the roots and then keeping the new growth pinched back until it gave up.
The moral? If you're going to plant a tree - be sure you plant it where it can grow.
GROWING PLANTS FROM SEED "A" is for Avocado
Most of us have experimented with avocado seeds - sticking them with toothpicks then resting them on the rim of a glass with water coming about half way up the seed. Some experts say to leave the glass or jar in a dark warm place, such as a pantry, until you see the first root begin to poke out of the seed. Then it can be brought out to a bright kitchen window where you will be rewarded with watching the root system develop and then a green sprout from the top with the first pair of leaves. (See Gardening With Water.)
I've had equally good luck with simply preparing a pot with soil and sticking the whole seed right into the middle of it. Keep it moist and within a few weeks, you'll see the green sprout peering above the soil. It will eventually grow rather tall - 18-24 inches - looking rather gangly with a cluster of leaves at the top. Be sure it is in a well drained pot with adequate room for the root system to develop. You may want to pinch out the inside cluster of leaves after a year or so to keep the plant from getting too tall. It will take years for the tree to produce fruit but - if you are patient and have 15 years to spare - you might get lucky and be the proud owner of a real producing avocado tree in your living room!
An Apple A Day
Johnny Appleseed was really onto something. You can be just a good as he and grow your own apple tree! Next time you munch on a juicy little apple, don't throw the core away. You can actually plant the whole core in a planter with potting soil but be prepared to weed out the smaller little seedlings as they grow, leaving only the largest and healthiest. Use a medium sized pot with good drainage, keep the potting soil moist, but not soggy. Don't allow it to dry out or the seedling will die. The little thread-like roots need to be in a moist environment to be able to continue to develop the root system and to nourish the embryonic little tree.
Most citrus seeds will also respond amazingly well to the same treatment. I've actually been rewarded with a small orange tree that was covered with fragrant blossoms when it reached about three feet tall. After a few small fruits were set, I made the mistake of setting it out on the patio where a prematurely early cool night nipped the little oranges causing them to shrivel and fall off. I would have been better off to leave the plant inside.
Try planting orange seeds, lemons, grapefruit and pear. These also respond well to Bonsai which we'll discuss in another section.
The Fruit of The Vine Does Fine
Stop! Don't crunch up that grape seed and swallow it! Take the seeds from grapes, let them dry on a paper towel, then plant them in a patio container filled with a good commercial top soil. They will germinate and sprout very nicely in moderate temperatures on your deck. As the vines develop and grow, you may train them to run along the railing of your deck, over an arch, or allow them to drip from under your eaves. They are deciduous so they will lose their leaves in fall; if you want to prune them back and move them to a more suitable location, you may do it then. Don't forget that grape vines are very adaptable for the art of Bonsai. I've seen old plants that have rooted trunks that are 3 inches in diameter with the miniature vines curling over pieces of volcanic rock and driftwood in a bonsai planter that was about 9" x 6" x 2". It was, obviously, created by a Bonsai Master. If that sounds like too long for too little, simply allow the vine to grow wild and enjoy the fruits of your labor!
Seeds from kiwi, cucumbers and some melons also make fine vines. I've seen beautiful vines of cucumbers trailing along a railing with fresh, juicy cucumbers just waiting there for the salad plate. Nothing beats growing your own! Rainy Day Projects
What to do when kids get bored! Now that's an age-old problem. You can't always put them in the car and take them to grandma's or to the beach. Why not grab out that old half-empty bag of potting mix from the obscure corner in the garage and let the kids plant a few seeds?
Seriously. This is a good project and, with a little supervision, one that will keep them occupied off and on for several days. Seeds from pomegranates, kiwi, strawberries, grapes, many of the fruits you can buy year 'round in the markets are likely candidates to be sprouted and grown at home. Granted, many won't make it much beyond the "toddler" stage, but those that do, particularly strawberries and grapes, do exceptionally well in your garden - climate permitting. You can use waxed paper cups or Styrofoam if you don't have those little peat pots which are available at most garden and variety stores.
Just fill a little over the half way mark with soil, press the seeds in and add enough soil to cover by about a half inch. Again tamp the soil down, add water and allow to sit in an out of the way place until the seeds germinate and the first leaves appear. Be sure the little plants do not dry out - add water a tablespoon at a time keeping the soil is moist but not soggy. As they grow and toughen up, you may transplant to a larger pot, eventually moving it out of doors.
Some of these plants will continue to do well in containers and some will not. If they don't seem to be happy in the pot, try transplanting into an outdoor bed making sure to initially water it well and protect from harsh sunlight. You might also consider planting strawberries, kiwi and grapes in hanging baskets. If so, use water crystals in the potting mix to keep moisture around the roots.