Growing Season 2006
Planting Day 1
05/24/2006 @ 1400
This year I planted on the 5th of May, then headed off the next day for a 10-day trip to Italy. I had no idea what to expect when I returned, since I usually am here to cover the plants if the sun is too strong, and keep them watered. As usual, I plant in the standard seed trays, 6 by 12, that you can buy at any home store. I didn't use the  "greenhouse" lids, just set the trays in my planters and then left town. I planted 5 trays of seeds this year.

The first tray of seeds included (Tray A):

  1. Osage-Orange - I feel a little silly planting these guys, since they almost always germinate, and aren't much of a challenge. However, they are about the only tree that seems to grow in the clay-we-call-soil here at my plant, and I need to finish a hedge around the area.

  2. Persimmon - the "historic" seeds I collected last fall while on a camping trip through North Carolina. We visited Morrow State Park, which contains the homestead of a Dr. Francis J Kron, who was the main country doctor for those parts in the mid-1800s. He was quite a horticulturist, and had many "collectable" trees on his property. I gathered some dogwood, persimmon, and magnolia seeds while there. Persimmons used to be used for golf club heads ("woods") as the wood is very strong, dense, hard, and fine-grained.  Now I guess everyone uses the titanium heads, but if you get a chance to see an old set of clubs, check out the wood. It is very beautiful.

  3. Magnolia - I collected these from my backyard, from what I think is a Star magnolia. An arborist I spoke with last year suggested magnolias for my plant property, after I described the soil here.  

  4. American beech - I collected these seeds from my backyard last fall.

  5. Magnolia - from the "historic" site in North Carolina. These were a little (OK, a lot) moldy when I pulled them out to plant.

Tray B:

  1. Hophornbeam - I managed to grow 3 of these trees from seed a few years ago, and 2 are still alive. They are about a foot high, and very pretty. I discovered a new source for seeds last year, in a local park, and gathered a handful of seed pods. These particular seeds I removed from the pods and held over the winter in damp perlite. A few of the seeds sprouted, but most were still intact.

  2. Hophornbeam - sprouted.

  3. Dogwood - I collected these from a very healthy tree on a property behind my house. A lot of the native dogwoods here in Delaware are subject to a anthracnose-like fungus, but maybe this is an import or hybrid. I just held the seeds over the winter in a ziploc bag, then rubbed the flesh off with my fingers and scratched the seeds with coarse sandpaper.   

  4. Magnolia - from a "bigleaf" tree growing in a county park near my house. Macrophylla is the species name. The leaves and flowers from these trees are truly "big" - the leaves are over a foot long.

  5. Redbud - I grew a few of these guys several years ago, but they were very spindly and didn't survive the winter. I held these over the winter dry in a plastic bag.

Tray C:

  1. Katsura - I spotted a few trees in Kennett Square (on a trip to the Half Moon) last summer, but never got back in the fall to collect. Well, one day I took a detour on my way to work, and spotted a row of trees on Bennett St here right here in Wilmington. I grabbed some seed pods last fall, kept them in moist perlite over the winter, and tore them open and gathered the seeds in the spring. 

  2. Chinese Scholartree - I like these guys a lot, the trees are reputed to be very "street" smart - they resist pollution, lack of water, dogs, and salt. I have a couple growing here at my plant in clay and stone.

  3. Sweetgum - sprouted.   

  4. Poncirus - Hardy Orange - I manage to germinate and grow some of these each year,  but they do not overwinter. Maybe they need to be brought indoors until they get larger. 

Tray D:

  1. Goldenchain - a reader sent me some seeds last year. I have not found a tree around here to collect from, so I might be a pioneer in this area. Here is a photo I took in Edinburgh a few years ago.

  2. Magnolia - "Umbrella" - I collected these from a local park.

  3. Goldenrain - not to be confused with "Goldenchain" trees. These have very pretty pods in the fall.

  4. Mystery - what would a growing season be without a mystery tree. This is a double mystery, because I can't even remember what they are. I found a plastic bag of mushy fruity seeds a few weeks ago in my collection for this year. They didn't look like persimmons, so I think they  are these little strange yellow fruits I found growing on a bush while walking to the library last fall. 

Tray E:

  1. Wisteria - I collected from a great trellis wisteria in a state park near my house. I just held the pods in a bag until the spring, then gave the pods a twist with my hands to get them to pop open. These seeds just need to be stuffed into the ground to germinate.

  2. Northern Catalpa - I have to grow some of these; they are so easy to germinate and always make me think I know what I am doing. 

  3. Honeylocust - this is an experiment, since I collected these seeds in the fall of 2004. The tree I collect from, which is a "wild" tree with lots of spines, seems to produce seed pods only every 2 years. Nothing last fall, so I expect to find lots of pods this year. As usual, I just made a little cut into the seed hull with a hacksaw, more like a scratch.    

  4. Kentucky coffeetree - I love collecting and growing these seeds. They are about the toughest material in nature - you need a hacksaw to scratch them. There are some large trees in a state park near my house that I visit each fall and winter. Early in the fall it is good sport to try to knock them off the tree, but by January most of them are on the ground. These need to be cut about 1/16" deep with a hacksaw to germinate.

  5. Ginkgo - I collected these seeds from my neighbors house; he usually rakes them up, but I snagged a few. Don't know if they will germinate as well as the ones from last year. 

Here is the diagram of the Trays A & B, Trays C & D, and Tray E.  Be sure to see the page for each individual seed type to learn more.

Seed Collecting for 2006
05/21/2006 @ 1400

My seed collecting started last fall,  with help from friends and readers who either sent me seeds, or directed me to a new tree.  The lineup for this year, with the trees I'm trying for the first time marked:

Kentucky coffeetree
sawtooth oak
Eastern redbud
osage orange
poncirus trifoliata (hardy orange)
Northern catalpa
Chinese scholartree
*magnolia (bigleaf, umbrella, and star(?))
goldenrain tree
*goldenchain tree

Welcome to 2006!
05/20/2006 @ 1000

Well, a belated welcome to the growing season of 2006. I must apologize for the lack of posting; things have been busy here and I have had little time for writing.  This past year was a little different here in Delaware. The winter was very dry, and not so cold. I lost several trees this winter, including "Wilson", my 7-year old honeylocust-in-a-pot that had survived a cross-country drive in the middle of winter, and a 3-year-old northern catalpa growing here at my office.

This year looks to be interesting, with some new seeds and another try at some old favorites. I am trying some magnolias for the first time, and some persimmons. A reader sent me some goldenchain seeds, which I am very excited about. I love these trees, and have not found one around here to collect from. I also located some katsuras on a side street here in Wilmington last year, and collected some seeds from them.



Welcome to "The 2006 Growing Season," the story of the 2006 Trees from Seeds tree garden. This column will provide you with a regular update on the status of this year's crop of tree seedlings.

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Last updated: 01/08/2008 03:32:00 PM