Last year I saw Alys Fowler on Gardeners’ World collecting berries to grow her own trees from seed, so I thought I’d give it a go. Whilst out on a walk I picked up some Sorbus berries from underneath a particularly pretty tree. It produces lovely white berries that are tinged pink.
When I got home I squished them through an old sieve that I use for straining my comfrey liquid. Often the flesh around seeds contains chemicals which inhibit germination. In nature, the flesh and these chemicals are broken down by the digestive systems of birds or mammals that eat the berries and the seeds pass through the bird or animal ready to germinate. To replicate this I got rid of the fleshy pulp and rinsed the seeds under the tap and then left them to dry for a little on some kitchen roll.
I then sowed the seeds into some multipurpose compost mixed with some vermiculite to improve the drainage. Covered the top of the pot with some grit and left them outside over winter. A lot of seeds need a period of cold to break the dormancy of the seed. This dormancy period protects the seed so that it is only ready to germinate when the conditions are suitable.
So with fingers crossed I left the seeds until Spring when I noticed 2 seedlings emerging. I had 2 little Sorbus trees. I don’t know how long it will be before they are of a size that I can plant them into the garden but that’s fine, my current garden is too small anyway, hopefully by the time they are a good size I’ll have a slightly bigger garden.
Wellyman has also grown 2 oak saplings from acorns he found lying on the ground in the forest that had already sprouted. We certainly don’t have a garden big enough for oak trees so we are going to go along to one of our local wildlife trust’s tree planting days this autumn with the 2 oak saplings. It’ll be a nice feeling to think that the oak trees could be there for hundreds of years.
So why not give it a try. Obviously there are plants and berries that are poisonous so care does need to be taken – wear gloves, wash hands well afterwards and don’t use kitchen equipment you would prepare food with for cleaning the berries. I’d love to hear if anyone else has grown their own trees from seed.