Re wilding: seed failure, May Day

So our experiment has run into a problem; our original planning seems to have been inadequate in that we didn’t fully compensate for the biological requirements of wild plants.

We had saved hundreds of seeds from plants we harvested last year, from a multitude of fruiting species and had intended to plant them this Spring and watch how they grew over the following year(s). However, as planting time came around, I read that for wild species, over-wintering is a crucial part of the germination process. I had attempted to soak and stratify the passiflora seeds we planted, but neither they nor any of the others have sprouted as yet. I read more about planting wild plants and most authorities on the subject say that seeds from wild species need to be planted in the Winter or even the preceding Autumn.

Actually, there were some seeds which did sprout, and honestly they were the last ones I would have expected; the mesquite seeds which I errantly scattered in in the yard have shot up like weeds!

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Now this is significant because (and I don’t know if I mentioned this in earlier posts) they are the only ones which I planted (scattered, really) when it was still cold outside! I must have planted them sometime in late January or perhaps February. I had thought to myself that since mesquite seeds are so hard, surely they will need the cold frosts of Winter to crack open; if only I’d stopped and applied that same logic to the other species we were planting….

I cannot begin to describe how foolish and disappointed I feel in myself for such an obvious error. We are still determined to continue with this experiment however and are adjusting our strategy accordingly. Perhaps this will actually make things easier in the future. During this Spring and coming Summer and Autumn, as we pick our various foods, the ones which we intend to try planting we will immediately place into the Earth. As we pick and eat passion-fruit this Summer, we shall spit the little seeds directly where we want to see them sprout. This means that we don’t need to take up space storing and keeping track of so many seeds (which can be a hassle with small children) and all “planting” will be done at the time of harvesting. If you think about it, this is exactly what happens in Nature anyway.

This hasn’t been a totally disappointing time though. We danced around a maypole and celebrated the first of May yesterday with the blooming of so many wonderful wildflowers everywhere around us.

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Also, the curly dock plants which are growing in the yard are now as tall as I am and close to ripening their legions of seeds.

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All the cattails in the area are just fixing to shoot up their delicious young flowers as well!

In addition, there is currently more blackberries ripened nearby than I have ever seen, or may ever see, in my life. To stand and look at them, is like looking at an ocean of glittering gems extending to the horizon; you start picking and the more you pick, the more you see, and eventually as you keep standing and looking further and further away, you’re struck by the futility of it all. There is no conceivable way you could ever pick all of them. Indeed you would literally need an army of pickers to come close to such a feat.

But then, perhaps, why should we be meant to? It’s in that moment of futility, in the face of such abundance, in the glimmer cast by those shining multitudes, that you can truly start to understand Nature. This abundance is for everyone, and there is more than you could ever ask for specifically to accomplish that purpose. And as the ephemeral nature of this feast draws it to a close, another will surely just finish being set on the table. I guarantee it.

So, despite whatever set-backs we may face, I say if you want to experience faith, you come foraging with us….

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