Tecophilaea questions & soil comment (coir and coffee chaff)

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Mon, 24 Nov 2008 14:24:07 PST
Dave asked,

At 12:18 PM 11/24/2008, you wrote:
>   Just a quick question or two regarding Tecophilaea timing; sowing,
>sprouting and re-emergence of young bulbs.  From the posts, I'm guessing
>that seed should be sown immediately?  Would delaying until there is
>more light available (say, a month or two after the winter solstice) be
>of benefit, if the seeds will remain viable that long?

I believe it should be sown in fall like seed of most 
winter-to-spring growing bulbs. The seeds, however, probably can 
remain viable for long periods in dry storage, since they come from a 
semi-arid region with unpredictable moisture from year to year.

>I've just watered a pot of three year old seedlings, but seem to
>remember that they took their own sweet time showing up last year.
>Should I be waiting longer to water them; more like the timing of a snow
>melt species?

I always start watering my tecophilaeas in the bulb frame in fall. 
They do not emerge until spring, later than many bulbs. Presumably 
they start some root growth earlier than the leaves and flowers come. 
Tecophilaea cyanocrocus here flowers with Fritillaria pudica and 
Lewisia brachycalyx, a very attractive combination.

>   I've also gotten a large supply of coffee chaff (not grounds, but the
>seed coat that comes loose during roasting ... a byproduct, often
>available for the asking), but haven't used any yet.  It's supposed to
>be an excellent soil amendment, slow to break down and with a good
>balance of nutrients.  I have been wanting to try this in a seed mix,
>but need a large batch of seed that I'm willing to have not germinate.
>And I'm still trying to catch up on planting more valuable seed ...

I would not try this product in a seed mix, especially since there 
are tried and true organic materials that work well, are cheap and 
readily available. As I observed a while back, I note that coffee 
grounds appear to inhibit germination of annual weeds when applied to 
a surface.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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