Seed is the characteristic reproductive structure of both angiosperms (flowering plants) and gymnosperms (conifers, cycads, ginkgos). It contains a miniature undeveloped plant embryo surrounded by stored food in the endosperm and/or cotyledons and protected by a seed coat.
Cecilia is investigating how gene networks affect ovule and seed development in gymnosperms, which have simpler ovule and seed structures than angiosperms.
The right lawn seed for your home or commercial property is key to a healthy and attractive yard. The grass species chosen should be suited to your region’s climate and everyday use, including exposure to sunlight and traffic.
Aim for a seed mixture that has been certified to be free of disease and weeds and has high yields. Be sure to test your soil for pH and add appropriate fertilizers before you plant.
The best time to overseed your existing lawn is late summer or fall when soil and atmospheric temperatures are most conducive for germination. Regular mowing and the use of an all-natural pre-emergent herbicide (2-4-D is illegal in Alberta, Ontario, & Quebec) will keep the new grass from forming weeds. Water the new or overseeded area daily until the seeds sprout and are well established. This will ensure the grass has enough moisture to grow quickly and resist drier conditions. This will also help to prevent snow mould.
Flower seeds are the small, dry or fluffy part of a plant that holds its genetic information. Each seed contains a root part (radicle), a prospective shoot or plumule, one or two cotyledons and a hypocotyl, which connects the radicle to the plumule.
Most flowers produce their seeds during the flowering process. They do this to reproduce and pass their genes on to future generations of plants. Flowers can be pollinated by insects, wind and water.
It is important to save flower seed from mature, healthy-looking plants. Saving seeds from flowers that are wilted, dead or discolored won’t result in viable seed. You can also collect flower seeds from plants that are ready for harvest, but they need to be completely dry before gathering. Paper coin envelopes work great for this purpose; they are easy to write on and won’t trap in moisture. Ziplock baggies are an alternative, but make sure the seeds are totally dry before storing.
Vegetable seeds are the nutrient powerhouses of the plant world. They contain essential proteins, healthy fats, energy and minerals. They are a great addition to a variety of meals and can be used as a snack.
The process of saving vegetable seed is a little more involved than that of other crops as most vegetables cross-pollinate and require special methods to ensure that pure seed can be saved. The exact method will vary depending on the crop and its characteristics (whether it self-pollinates or pollinates by wind or insects, for example).
In order to be sold as a pure seed variety, any vegetable must be grown in isolation from other varieties with a minimum separation distance. This is accomplished through the use of roguing, an important practice in organized vegetable seed production endeavours. In addition to these requirements, if any vegetable seed is treated with anything other than water, the percentage by weight of that coating must be shown on the label.
Herbs are easy to grow from seed and most of them will do well if sown directly in the garden. Anise, borage, fennel, and dill can all be grown from seeds sown in fall or early spring before the heat sets in. These cool-weather herbs will go to seed and provide a source of fresh herb leaves as needed, while the ripe seeds can be used in pickles.
A shady garden spot will be fine for some herbs, but others need full sun. Herbs are light feeders and will benefit from a compost tea or slow-release organic fertilizer such as Gurney’s Vegetable Food.
If you have the space, growing herbs from seed is a cost-effective alternative to buying transplants. University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Nancy Kreith suggests starting seeds indoors as spring approaches and transplanting them into the garden in May depending on your region’s average frost-free date. She recommends using a small greenhouse, a south-facing window or a set of supplemental grow lights.