I wasn’t feeling well and ended up lying down this afternoon, but before I did, I asked my daughters to start the paw paw and tulip tree seeds.
These are already cold stratified, so we had two options in the instructions. They could be planted directly into pots, or first put into slide lock bags with moist soil until roots emerge, then get potted.
What I want to do it first pot them in the degradable pots, so that when they need to be potted up, we won’t be disturbing their long tap roots. From what I’ve read, the paw paws are especially sensitive to damage to their tap root.
We got a dozen paw paw seeds and 20 tulip tree seeds. There is no way we have the space for 32 pots anyhow, but I don’t expect a 100% germination rate. Also, especially with the paw paws, the roots develop long before they start sending leaves up, so it will be a long time before we even know if they’ve germinated. So I figure if we start them in the slidelock bags first, we can then plant only the ones that successfully germinate into individual pots. Then, even if they take a while before we see anything, we at least know there are roots growing, out of sight.
My daughters don’t take progress photos, so I just have photos of the finished job.
They misunderstood my comment about wanting them in individual pots, so the seeds all went into individual baggies!
Which is fine, too. We’ll need to buy more baggies now, though. 😉
They don’t need light right now; just warmth. So the labelled bags all got pile onto an empty shelf in the mini-greenhouse. We’ll keep an eye on them, both for roots and to make sure they stay moist. The instructions said to make sure the soil isn’t too wet, or the seeds will rot, so it’s a bit of a balancing act.
Once I pick up more trays that will fit in the mini-greenhouse, we’ll arrange them so they’re not all piled on top of each other like this, but for now, they’ll be fine.
Our future forest has been started!
Looking at the needs for the two different types of trees, I am thinking we could actually plant the paw paws – or at least some of them – with the tulip trees. Paw paws are an undergrowth tree, and need to be shaded their first few years, though they fruit better in full sunlight. When the time comes, the pots with their seedlings will be kept in a sheltered area outside. They need to go dormant in the winter, and we could probably overwinter the pots in the sun room, at least for their first winter. Properly protected the pots could also stay outdoors, but I’d rather not do that until the seedlings were bigger and stronger.
First, we’ll see how many germinate. Then we’ll see how many survive being potted. Then we’ll see how many survive their first season in pots outdoors. Then we’ll see how many survive until ready for transplanting in 2 years. Then we’ll see how many survive being transplanted.
It’s a lot riskier starting trees from seed like this, but it does show just why buying seedlings from a nursery can cost so much. A lot of resources, time and effort went into them!