Monkeying around

rainbow
Wintry Showers

I’ve been a bit busy with shop projects recently, and with the daylight being so short at the moment, I haven’t actually done very much outside.  It is just past the solstice and it is dark till 8 a.m. and dark again at about 4.30 p.m.  The days are supposedly getting longer.  Usually by the start of February the difference is appreciable.  Some plants are already starting to show spring growth; the celandine leaves are already forming, others don’t seem to have realised yet that it is winter!  Some of the fuchsias still have most of their leaves.  Although the winter hasn’t been too bad yet, this week is set to be colder and drier, so at once will be frostier, but nicer for working outside.

In the former DRG I have staked the Gevuina, which is starting to rock in the wind a bit.  I’ll prune the leader out this summer coming and see if I can start a new plant from the removed tip; it is supposed to be fairly easy to take cuttings.  The two seedlings that grew this summer are still doing well.  I have just left them outside in the wet and they seem to be thriving.  I wonder if they prefer the cooler damp conditions, rather the drier, warmer conditions I tried in the polytunnel with previous seeds.  Maybe a little warmer to germinate, then outside to the wet again?  I still have several pots with seeds in that have not started to germinate but look healthy.

mature tree portree
Large female Monkey Puzzle Tree in Portree Skye (May 2019)

I am rather keen to grow many more monkey puzzle trees.  They grow so nicely and shrug off the winds here.  The plan would be to put them all down the hill (not near paths) and let them grow until they fruit.  Then the female trees can be kept to provide nuts, and the male trees harvested for timber. To this end I bought a moderate amount of Scottish harvested seeds from an ebay seller, and have put these to germinate in the kitchen.  Based on the instructions provided by the seller, I soaked the seeds overnight, placed a layer of  damp vermiculite in a couple of old strawberry punnets, pushed the seeds in about half way, put the lids back on the trays and put the trays stacked on top of each other near the stove flue.

seeds by stove
Seeds by Stove Flue

Every few days I sprayed the tops of the seeds with water to keep them damp.  After a couple of weeks I taped up most of the ventilation holes in the lids, since the seeds seemed to be getting a little dry in between sprays.  As I noticed that there were a few roots developing the other day I tipped the seeds out and sorted them.

sorting
Sorting sprouting seeds

About one third were sprouting so I potted them into small pots.  They are still in the kitchen at present to keep them warm, I’ll transfer the pots to the study windowsill in a week or so, when they seem to be settled down, and keep spraying them till then.  There were a few seeds that had rotted, so these were removed and the rest put back in the vermiculite, to carry on germinating.  It may be a few months before all those that will have started sprouting.

planted
Planted up sprouting seeds

The tomato and shark’s fin melon seem to be doing well on the window sill, however the tamarind has died. I think it was too cold for it on the window sill. I moved it through to the kitchen, but I’m pretty sure it is too late.

windowsill
Overwintering

3 thoughts on “Monkeying around

  1. I’ve just finished reading a book set in the Outer Hebrides (nothing to do with growing) but Skye is part of them I think?

    Anyway, good luck with your Monkey Puzzle Trees. They will look beautiful and I hope they bear fruit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Helen. I can already see new shoots on some of the remaining seeds, so will probably have to pot some more up in a week or so. They fruit when mature, usually 20 to 40 years!
      Skye is considered to be Inner Hebrides, rather than Outer Hebrides which form an arc in the sea further to the west.

      Like

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