Mindful of Seeds

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“Remember to be conscious of what seeds you plant,

as the garden of your mind is like the world.

The longer seeds grow,

the more likely they are to become trees.

Trees often block the sun’s rays

from reaching other seeds,

allowing only plants that are acclimated

to the shadow of the tree to grow—

keeping you stuck with that one reality.”

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Natasha Potter

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“The tree which moves some to tears of joy

is in the eyes of others only a green thing

that stands in the way.

Some see nature all ridicule and deformity…

and some scarce see nature at all.

But to the eyes of the man of imagination,

nature is imagination itself.”

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William Blake

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2019

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“Sentinels of trees
breathe life into bodies of earthly flesh
As their mighty arms reach to the stars
we join in their quest for Helios’s mighty power
Like sentinels, we seek our place
in the forest of nature’s gentle breath”

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Ramon Ravenswood

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Grow a Palm From a Date

Date pits soaking in water, with their guardian frogs, in preparation for planting.

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I blame Pinterest, and one of those odd “You might like these new pins” emails I received earlier this week.

You see one of those pins they shared with me showed gorgeous baby green leaves growing out of a little pot of soil- holding a date pit.

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Fresh dates

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Do you eat dates?  The people in my life either passionately love them or despise them with equal vehemence.

The true candy of the fruit world, they contain about  75% sugar, which makes them a great sugar substitute in baked goods, energy bars and bites, and smoothies.  With their sweetness comes a great deal of fiber and other nutrients.

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I bought a box of fresh dates just before Thanksgiving for my first adventure in baking a vegan, ‘plant based’ birthday cake to my brother’s specs.   It was good, well received, and the process opened my eyes to cooking with these luscious fresh dates!

Never wanting to throw useful things away, especially when I learn that they might grow, I am following the instructions I discovered on Pintrest to bring these date pits, or seeds, into growth.

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With a fresh box of dates from Trader Joes in hand, I sliced open a little more than half the dates in the box and dropped their seeds into a small jar of water yesterday afternoon.  I didn’t wash or scrub the seeds in any way, and learned this morning that some of the fruit remaining on the seeds had soaked off overnight.

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This morning, I gently shook the jar a few times before pouring off most of the cloudy water and replacing it with fresh, slightly warm water.  I’ll change the water daily for a few more days as the seeds wake up and prepare to grow.

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Every seed contains an embryo plant.  Some seeds are able to completely dry out and wait for the conditions when a new plant may grow.  Other seeds need to remain moist.  Some seeds need a period of cold stratification before they will germinate, others will germinate immediately after they ripen.

I sometimes find seeds in my grapefruits already germinating, with tiny sprouts beginning to grow within the fruit.  I will find a little pot and some soil and allow these to grow on, hating to throw them away when already in growth.

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But I’d never given much thought to date seeds before this week.  These are another grocery store treasure, from the produce department, that one can grow into a new, productive plant!

Most fruit bearing date palms are hardy from Zone 9 south.  That means that I won’t be able to leave any trees that grow from these seeds outside during a Virginia winter.  They will always grow in pots and won’t reach maturity here.

Date palms are true trees, growing to about 75″ tall.  Although palms are grown here as houseplants, they require a good deal of sun and so a sunny spot is required to keep them happy through winter.

But I’m always interested in learning how things grow, and so I’m going to give these little seeds a try.  Like our holly trees, date palms are dioecious.  Each tree has its own gender, and a male tree is required nearby to fertilize the fruit-bearing female trees.  Growers who produce dates commercially must have a mix of male and female trees.

Since there is no way to determine a tree’s gender until it produces its first flowers, it is wise to start a group of seeds and grow them on to maturity, if one wants to eventually enjoy fresh, home-grown dates.

It may take nearly 10 years from seed to maturity, so growing dates requires a bit of commitment if this project is to come to ‘fruition’.  Commercial growers tend to propagate new trees from divisions of particularly heavy producing trees already in their care.  I won’t be starting up any fruit production in this area, so I’ll grow these as long as I can, as a beautiful novelty.

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There isn’t a great deal of agreement among those who have written about growing dates, about how long to soak the seeds or how to care for them as they germinate.  Some instruct one to soak the seeds for two days, others for as much as two weeks.  I’m sure that the length of time needed is directly related to how fresh the seeds may be.

My seeds were exceedingly fresh and I can see some of the embryos beginning to stretch beyond the seed coast today, after soaking for a little more than 12 hours.

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These seeds soaked overnight before I removed them from the jar just long enough to photograph them. see how the embryo has begun to extend beyond the seed coat?

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One point all agree on is that the seeds need warmth and moisture to germinate and grow.  One writer suggests moving the seeds into damp paper towel, sealed in a zip-lock bag, kept in a warm spot after soaking.  This would be an intermediate step to encourage the embryo to further develop in optimal conditions before setting it into a pot of soil.   Other writers move the sprouting seeds directly from their jar of water into soil, planted very shallowly, and covered with damp sand.

This is a great little activity to do with kids (and the young at heart) this winter.  The large seeds allow children to see the stages of a sprouting seed clearly.  All sorts of questions will arise, and many teachable moments will come as you watch the miracle of a sprouting seed together.

When I move my seeds out of the water and into a bag or pots, I’ll try to remember to snap a few photos to share.    I believe I’ll try a few both ways, since I have about a dozen seeds already soaking.  We’ll see which way leads us to green leaves faster!

In the meantime, you may wonder what I did with those gorgeous date fruits after I harvested their seeds yesterday.  I’ll share the recipe, which is another fun thing to do with any kids in your life.

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Yes, one is missing. I’m sure you know what may have happened to it…

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Save these little treasures for yourself or share them with friends over a cup of coffee or tea.  I’ll warn you they are rich and satisfying, and at the same time might qualify as a ‘healthy snack’ if those things matter to you.  They certainly are making this wintery day a bit brighter for me!

These measures are guesses, and this recipe doesn’t require exact measures. Relax and enjoy the process…

Date-Nut Energy Bites

A dozen or so fresh dates, pits removed

A cup of dried, unsweetened flake coconut

A cup of ground almonds (I used Trader Joe’s ‘almond flour,’ which contains nothing but finely ground almonds.

1/2 cup of raw pecans

3 TB ground flax seeds

A few grinds of sea salt

1.5 TB. powdered dark cocoa (I used Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. almond extract

Combine the first five ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.  Process in short pulses until the dates are cut into fine pieces.  Continue to process for another 30 seconds or so as the material begins to come together in the bowl.

Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the salt, cocoa powder and extracts.  Continue processing for another few seconds, and scrape the bowl again.

The mixture is ready to form into balls when it begins to hold together as a chunky paste.  The extract provides enough liquid the help the mix hold together.  You could probably use water or fruit juice to replace the extracts, if you wish.

Form the paste-like mixture into balls.  I used a 1 TB measuring spoon to scoop the mix, pressing it lightly into the spoon, and then knocking it out of the spoon into my hand to round it slightly.

Place the finished date balls on waxed paper in a lidded container in a single layer.  Cover and chill for at least an hour while the mixture sets up.

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Expect about 24-30 Date-Nut Bites from this recipe, depending on how large you make each one. These were better on the second day, once the flavors had melded and the fruit and nuts had set up together.

Enjoy!

Woodland Gnome 2019
Update 1: February 4, 2019

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I moved some of the seeds showing growth from the jar of water to a damp paper towel in a zip-lock.  I have the seeds under a lamp in a warm spot, and am checking them daily for growth. 

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Of course, I could have planted these directly into pots of soil.  But it’s more interesting to keep them out where we can watch them grow a while longer!

 

 

Sow Seeds of Happiness in 2016

December 31, 2016 004

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“When you assess your own life,

consider it with the eye of a gardener.

Underneath the surface lies rich, fertile soil

waiting to nurture the seeds you sow.

Even more than you can imagine

will grow there if given a chance.”

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Steve Goodier

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October 9, 2015 First Camellias 005

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Each of our thoughts; wishes, daydreams, choices and opinions; may be considered a seed.  Our thoughts can shape our lives and bring us happiness or heartbreak; loneliness or love.

 Our thoughts have power to change the world around us.

These ‘thought seeds’ germinate in the fertile soil of our imagination, and are watered and fed by our attention.

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October 9, 2015 First Camellias 037

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On this Earth, all seeds have the opportunity to germinate, whether those seeds will grow into weeds and briers or beautiful flowers and nourishing fruits.

May the seeds you sow ripen into love and happiness in the year to come.

May your garden remain fertile and surround you with beauty and abundance.  May you walk in peace.

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December 31, 2016 001

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Happy 2016 to you and yours!

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November 11, 2015 Parkway 049

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Woodland Gnome 2015

In A Vase: Finally, Zinnias

Septembr 8, 2015 vase 009

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We are past Labor Day, that great holiday marking the end of summer in the United States; and finally I’ve cut some Zinnias for our vase.

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September 8, 2015 Vase2 001

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These are lovely Zinnias.  I love their soft but vibrant pink petals.  I’ve admired them every day for weeks now, but have refrained from cutting any to bring indoors.  I’ve only cut off spent blossoms in order to inspire the plants to push out more.

These Zinnias are a tender spot for me.  No, not a warm and fuzzy tender spot.  They are a guilty tender spot.  You see, I bought them.

When the several dozen Zinnia seeds I had carefully ordered and later sowed out in the beds failed to produce; I bought a few potted Zinnia plants from our friends at the local farm stand.  They were so far along that I planted them, pots and all, in a few prominent spots mid-summer.

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September 8, 2015 Vase2 002~

Now how much gardening skill does it take to grow Zinnias from seeds??? 

I’ve done it often in the past.  And, in retrospect there are now a few of my home sown Zinnias blooming in the butterfly garden.  But my grand winter plans for rows of Zinnias, ripe for cutting, failed to materialize in the vagueries of spring.

I first sowed the little seeds in wet paper toweling, as I often do with bean seeds, and then planted each little packet into the beds.  Needless to say, it didn’t work well this time….  Next year, back to the trays or little pots for sowing those precious seeds.

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Septembr 8, 2015 vase 003~

But enough of gardening angst.  We’ll celebrate these lovely Zinnias blooming so vibrantly with the Blue Mist Flowers, Salvia, purple Basil, Pineapple Mint, Catmint and Garlic Chives.  One thing I enjoy about these vases is how I can capture the essence of things blooming all over the garden into one tiny vase.

The Blue Mist flower self seeds, and is also a spreading perennial.  It is popping up in nearly every part of the garden this summer.  I’ve been spreading the Garlic chives around for several years now.  Another self-seeding perennial, they are also blooming in surprisingly random places in the garden at present.

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Septembr 8, 2015 vase 001~

The “Jade” Buddha was given to us by a friend at Chinese New Year.  I included it today after learning, just this week, the story of the “Emerald” Buddha of Thailand.  This “Emerald” Buddha statue has a long and mysterious history which likely began in southern India in the years before the Common Era, and continues today in modern Bangkok.  The stones were picked up while walking along an Oregon beach.

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Septembr 8, 2015 vase 002

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The season is turning yet again, and it feels like as good a time as any to ponder our successes and shortcomings of the last few months.  It is a good time to process gardening, and life lessons, learned; while at the same time entertaining plans for the seasons coming.

Another gardening blogger wrote of sketching her cuttings beds for next season, now.  Plans made now will likely be more realistic than those we plot over the winter catalogs in February, don’t you think? 

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September 6, 2015 garden 010~

I’m building some new beds in the sunny front garden.  I’ve already planted some new Iris roots, and am ready to plant bulbs as soon as some rain comes to soften the soil a bit.

Once the weather turns more towards autumn in a few weeks, I’ll also move some shrubs from their pots to the Earth.  The trick at the moment is to spend enough time watering and weeding to keep things alive until it rains again.

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August 29, 2015 garden at dusk 011

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But despite my failed Zinnias and a half dozen other misadventures this year, we celebrate those gardening efforts which have worked out well.   Gardening offers a series of second (third and fourth…) chances to ‘get it right.’

Though brutal at times, nature also offers us the opportunity to try, try, again each season; in the continual pursuit of our green and growing dreams.

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August 29, 2015 turtle 020~

Please take a moment to visit Cathy at Rambling In The Garden to enjoy more beautiful gardening successes, captured for a moment in time In A Vase this week.

 

Woodland Gnome 2015

The Power of Seeds

August 30, 2015 garden 004

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“Seeds have the power to preserve species,

to enhance cultural as well as genetic diversity,

to counter economic monopoly

and to check the advance of conformity

on all its many fronts.”

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Michael Pollan 

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August 30, 2015 garden 001~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

Fly Away…

August 26, 2015 milkweed 003

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“Don’t judge each day

by the harvest you reap,

but by the seeds that you plant.”

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Robert Louis Stevenson

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August 26, 2015 milkweed 001

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for Rickii....

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

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Milkweed, Asclepias incarnatarnata

Milkweed, Asclepias incarnata

Seeds of Change

Milkweed pod ready to share its seeds:  Asclepias incarnata

Milkweed pod ready to share its seeds: Asclepias incarnata

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“Only those who sow seeds of change

can hope to grow and reap a harvest.”

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Andrea Goeglein

 

Photo by Woodland Gnome 2015

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August 25, 2015 garden 003

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