Fire, smoke, etc.

Michael Mace
Thu, 25 Aug 2005 11:02:32 PDT
Mary Sue wrote:

>>I've never tried Rod Saunders' suggestion of putting a pot in a plastic
bag, starting a fire in a bee smoker and directing the smoke into the bag,
closing it up and leaving it for a day or so. I think it would be worth
trying. Has anyone done this?

I have, kind of.  I have a smoker in my backyard, sort of a glorified oil
barrel that I sometimes use for smoking meat.  I decided it ought to work
great for seeds.  Several times now I have loaded it up with flats of seeds
and smoked them for hours or overnight.

The smoker is a *great* way to melt plastic pots and labels.  But once you
learn to adjust the temperature properly, it leaves the labels intact and
makes the seed flats smell like a rack of really good pork ribs.

Unfortunately, I haven't seen a dramatic difference in germination compared
to just putting the flats out in the rain in fall.  I didn't do any
carefully controlled experiments, though, so I can't say for sure.

Jim asked:

>>who indeed among us really grows South African heaths

I do.  Or, I should say that I try to.  The seeds seem to germinate pretty
well, smoke or no smoke, but I have a terrible time getting them past about
2mm in height.  They just stall out at that size and eventually die.

I've tried cuttings numerous times but without any success.

I have two plants that I purchased, now growing in the ground.  One is
surviving okay, one is almost dead.  They seem to be very particular about
sun exposure and soil.  Growing them in pots seems to be a lot easier.

This is off topic so I will shut up now.  But if anyone wants to talk about
South African Erica culture, especially if you have any tips on making the
seedlings grow, please drop me a note privately.

San Jose, CA (zone 9, min temp 20F)

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