I had to set the alarm for the dog so he wouldn’t sleep in until 10:30 like he did yesterday, and woke up to a winter wonderland….. I’m not one of those people who thinks that snow on the garden in January is “moisture”. I just shoveled a whole bunch of moisture off the driveway; that was fun. The dog stayed inside and watched.
There are moments in my life when actual work is performed and things get done, and today was going to be one of them, but work might be delayed because of the snow. I have seeds to sow. (This has no effect whatsoever on my desire to buy plants.)
Most of the seed is sown in pots which are set outside, so that the seed can germinate on its own. This is called vernalization. I showed a picture of the (portable) seed frames here. I spent some time screening squeegee the other day for the cactus seed. I guess this needs an explanation.
The other technique I use, sometimes, is stratification, which I talked about here and is a complete pain in the posterior, but sometimes there is no other choice. Apparently this is true for the seed of Ceanothus velutinus, which first needs its hard coat to be cracked in some way, then a period of stratification is required. In the wild the cracking is accomplished by fire.
One of the ways suggested to crack the seed coat, aside from fire, is scarification, rubbing the seed on sandpaper until the endosperm is exposed. I’m not going to do this. Cindy liked doing this; it was just the sort of microscopic work she enjoyed, but the last time I tried it the seed got crushed and flew all over the kitchen. People like me who are entering their Declining Years have no time for such nonsense.
The Forest Service has a data sheet on Ceanothus velutinus which says temperatures of 176 to 203 degrees F. will break the seed coat, before stratifying the seed. It didn’t take me very long at all to realize that I knew exactly how to do this.
Note the appearance of the pan. This pan has but one purpose, to toast the seeds that go into making various masalas. (Cindy liked Indian food so I cooked a lot of it.) A spatter guard helps keep the popping seeds in the pan. Seeds are toasted, put on a plate and allowed to cool, and then ground.
This is one highly evolved spice rack. I’m about to get carried away here. This is food, after all.
Filled with all sorts of things.
Where was I? Oh, something about ceanothus. The seed can be germinated by sowing it outdoors, too. The percentage of germination is very low. The outdoor method works for a number of species whose germination requirements are said to require heat from fire (like Romneya coulteri). The action of freezing and thawing does the work.
I’ll report back on the toasting method in a couple of months. Assuming, that it, that I don’t grind the seed by mistake.
P.S. 10-16-13. Dear Indian cooks doing a search on kala jeera: namaste. The labels in the last picture are correct. Black cumin is from Bunium bulbocastanum and is called kala jeera or shahi jeera. Kalonji is sometimes called black cumin but it’s from a totally unrelated plant, Nigella sativa.