Seed Starting- “Stratify”, Baby!

Poppies, Frilly Pink, Starting from SeedThe pictures you see are not of my garden right now. It’s January! But I’m still thinking of the annual Easter Egg Hunt we have each year, and how handfuls of cute little kids will be running around the yard looking for eggs, in just a few months. I’m hoping that some beautiful poppies will be blooming again right around then.Exotic Purple Poppy, Lauren's Grape
I have saved seed pods before, tossing the seeds out in the yard in early spring. But it’s been hit-or-miss. Sometimes I’ve had a new, beautiful crop of poppies; other times, I think the birds just enjoyed eating the seeds.
And then I heard about “stratifying”. If you’ve started seedlings for years, you may have heard of this. But it’s new to me! The idea is to mimic the cold, damp winter soil conditions, but in the privacy of your fridge, where the seedlings get encouraged that it may soon be time to sprout. They are refrigerated in something like dampened perlite for a couple weeks, then come out to room temperature for a week or so. Rinse and repeat (OK, don’t really rinse, but you get the idea). This goes on for six
weeks or more, until you’re ready to plant (refrigerating, “thawing”, chilled again, thawing, etc.).
Easter Egg Hunt

Grandkids’ Easter 2009 (Sans Poppies…)

This is the ideal for poppies–other seeds may have different requirements:

  • Do a 1:3 ratio of seed to sand (or perlite or vermiculite). Dampen and refrigerate 2 weeks
  • Remove to room tempperature for one week
  • Refrigerate for two more weeks, being sure sand is still moist. Add a bit more water if necessary
  • Repeat cycle of cooling and thawing for six weeks, up to three months
Once weather’s warmed (with a soil temperature of 55-60 degrees), set out ON TOP of soil (not buried), keeping moist.
And that’s it! I’m going to see how this works out this year. I’ll add more poppy pictures if it’s a success 🙂
Soul Food: I’ve been thinking about those seeds. They are being tricked a little. They come out to room temperature, thinking all is well now, only to be refrigerated again. Not time to sprout yet!Maybe we can look at our own lives this way–things start looking up, and we think, “This is it!” We think the good times are about to roll in, but then we get “the chill” again. Not time for us to sprout yet either.If we remember God’s got a great plan, it shouldn’t be too disappointing while we wait for God’s perfect timing. 1 Peter 5:10 says, “after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” A great promise!


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