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KEEP RECORDS TO ALLOW FOR BETTER PLANNING
An often overlooked aspect of plant propagation is the art of record keeping. Whether you are producing a few plants for your home flower and vegetable gardens or working at a larger-scale nursery, developing a propagation journal will prove indispensable. Here at the Center for Historic Plants, we record when seeds are sown, the germination date and success rate, and when seedlings are ready for transplanting each year.
At the end of the year we evaluate the timing of our production schedule, noting what went right and what went wrong. These observations help us make adjustments for next year to ensure that we are growing our plants under optimum conditions. We also keep track of where we purchase seeds, as their quality and reliability may vary by source.
A very useful tip
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STORE SEED PROPERLY TO MAINTAIN VIABILITIES
Seeds are a fragile commodity, and if not treated properly, their viability will sharply decline. While some seeds may survive for thousands of years under the proper conditions, others will lose viability quickly, even when properly stored. To maintain dormancy, keep seeds in a cool, dark location with low humidity, like a refrigerator. I recommend labeling them (seed name, source, year) and storing them in a small reclosable bag or empty film canister that is, in turn, kept in a larger plastic container.
Once you are ready to sow, you can test the viability of many, but not all, seeds by soaking them in water for a few hours. The seeds that are still living will sink to the bottom, while the dead ones will float on the surface. This test generally works better for larger seeds, but there are no absolutes.