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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Letters, Questions, Answers- Permaculture Plants

Starting Seaberry Seeds

Glad the seeds arrived in good condition. Soaking is not necessary.
There have been a number of studies documenting the effects of soaking and the results are germination speed is only a day or two quicker. Not really worth the extra step, but it is an option. If chosen, I recommend a 24 hour soak.
Sow the seeds in a soil-less sterile mixture of vermiculite and peat moss. (ordinary bagged seed starting soil) at a depth of @ 1/2 cm. They should emerge in about 10 days. Normal care should be taken as you would any seedlings started indoors. Since the number of seeds ordered are many and I don't know what facilities are at your disposal, I will expand a bit with more technical information for the professional.
These stratified Seabuckthorn seeds can be seeded indoors in pots in a vermiculite/peat moss mixture (40:60). The containers are placed in a greenhouse with a 16 hour photo-period at a temperature range between 25-27C and a 70-90% relative humidity.
Germination will occur in @10 days.
Immediately following germination and prior to the formation of true leaves, an application of fungicide may be necessary to control seedling damping-off. I have had very little problem with this. Cinnamon application may be a good preventative.
Maximum growth may be obtained by using bright full-spectrum fluorescent or hi-pressure sodium lighting. A soluble starter fertilizer (10-52-10 N_P_K) should be applied with each irrigation for the first 3 weeks following planting. After this, a complete soluble fertilizer (20-20-20, N_P_K) is applied in the same manner. Feel free to use comparable organic solutions.
A moderate amount of air circulation is recommended. Seedlings should be acclimated (hardened off)before transplanting. Do this as early as possible-exposing them to the sun and elements, they like it very much.
One seedling per pot should be allowed to grow for 3 months before transplantation to the field. In light sandy soil the root is buried 6-8 cm deep to encourage the development of another tier of roots and the new seedlings should be watered as required.
High density planting in the field can be 3ft x 3 ft. More commonly the rows are planted with plants 3ft apart and 12ft between rows. Think about this carefully. The type of equipment you will use to cut the grass between rows and between plants should be considered to make maintenance of your orchard easier.
I know that's a lot of information. For the person with a green thumb, there are some good suggestions. Not to worry though if all the details are not followed exactly. As with any young plant (or animal for that matter), infancy is a time in which care should be taken and neglect carefully avoided.
I look forward to hearing how they do. Please let me know.
All the Best - Tom

If I buy unsexed seaberry plants.....

Hello Ben,
To answer your question, yes, if you get two you could get a male and a female. My experience is that approximately 70% of the plants turn out to be female. It is a game of chance however. If I were you, I would get a few more to increase the odds you end up with both sexes. Personally I would be more comfortable with at least 4 plants. You can buy sexed plants online from a few different places. is one. The cost is at least double and the plants are propagated from cuttings. My experience is that they are much more difficult to grow since the roots aren't as robust as ones grown from seed. That is basically the choices you have acquiring Hippophae rhamnoides plants. One other thing I personally like with the plants grown from seed is that they are open-pollinated and genetically variable so susceptibility to environmental stresses isn't as risky as a mono-crop type of planting. Hope this answer helps, Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks - Tom

Are Multiple varieties of Seabuckthorn required for pollination?

Hi Patrick,
You don't need multiple varieties. What you do need is a male and a female. Seaberry plants are either one or the other. There may be an advantage to having a few different male varieties that bloom at slightly different times to have your bases covered. That advice mostly if for people who buy varietal plants which are propagated by cuttings. The seeds you purchased are Hippophae rhamodies (variety sinesis). They are the most commonly planted type in the world. China, which produces the most seaberry products, by far, uses these. Since they are a result of open pollination, there is inherently some variation to be expected. We think this is good. Having all the exact genetic make-up of plants close together is risky in terms of disease and environmental stresses affecting all your plants equally. So having that variability lends itself to some built in resilience. The only other sub-variety I have is from the himalayas. I am uncertain though whether they are subspecies "salicifolia" or "tibetana". It will be a few years before they fruit and more seeds are available.
Raising them from seed is fairly easy. They germinate quickly- 10 to 15 days at average temperatures. The care they require isn't specialized. If they are kept moist, not soggy, they will continue to grow. Fertilization is ok when young but do keep it about half the package directions regarding strength. Once established in their final locations, it is better not to use any non-organic fertilizers. They are nitrogen fixing and the symbiotic bacteria on the roots (frankia) can be harmed by too much added nitrogen in the soil. The small plants/seedlings like being outside. They harden off fast and become woody very quickly. It's spring so freezing is not much of an issue but they do have an amazing anti-freeze capability even when very young. Tough plants all around. Take care when transplanting at any age. Get as much of the roots as possible and keep watered to minimize the transplant shock.
The plants will begin shipping on April 15th. That's the plan. Weather here has been crazy but I expect your order will ship before the end of the month. Once it is shipped you will receive another email confirmation with the tracking number.
Thanks for the question, as you can see, seaberry is a favorite. All the very best to you.--Tom

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