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Author Topic: The "cup of tea" method for germinating seeds  (Read 51881 times)

Lesley Cox

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Re: The "cup of tea" method for germinating seeds
« Reply #15 on: July 27, 2014, 11:52:42 PM »
Lily-anne, I use and Laurol does too, a normal sized mug or cup of black, i.e. milkless tea, (no sugar :)) for each batch of soaking. I leave it to draw for as long as it takes to cool to lukewarm then remove and squeeze out the teabag and pour the tea over the pouches. This makes tea much stronger than I would normally drink it (with milk) and I rarely drink tea anyway, having coffee in the morning so I make coffee in a mug, tea in another and use the tea for the seeds. I suppose it will be expensive in teabags over time but well worth that. If I were drinking the tea I'd make a small potful, pour mine then leave the bag or leaves to go on steeping until cool.

Really pleased to see such interest in this subject. It's not often a totally new (to me) technique is found that can produce some startlingly good results.
Lesley Cox - near Dunedin, lower east coast, South Island of New Zealand - Zone 9

Susann

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Re: The "cup of tea" method for germinating seeds
« Reply #16 on: July 30, 2014, 06:39:18 AM »
Lesley and others, very interesting. Me myself I am too lazy to care so much for my seeds and seedlings, I just sow the seeds and put the pots in the coldframes hoping for the best. The last three years I have refined my method by outsourching the watering to neighbors with differing results. Scientiffically it is not a method I would recommend.
But, I have copied the thread and will send it to a friend who is very keen on trying new methods. The last few years she has been into sowing in damp cotton tissues, the ones some women use to clean their face. She has the fridge full of them, checking them every now and then to see if there is any sprouts. If sprouts she puts them in a pot. The fridge tissues might have been the cause of her divorce, I am not sure. It could also have been all the pots in the cellar, the sowing media and tools in the kitchen and maybe, but just maybe, all the pots in the porch? Anyway, I am sure she will like to try this method, divorced or not. Actually she has more time now for her sowing experiments. Thank you for telling us about it, Lesley.
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arillady

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Re: The "cup of tea" method for germinating seeds
« Reply #17 on: July 30, 2014, 10:34:52 AM »
I received some oncocyclus seeds today so they are getting the strong tea method.
Pat Toolan,
Keyneton,
South Australia

Matt T

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Re: The "cup of tea" method for germinating seeds
« Reply #18 on: July 30, 2014, 12:32:25 PM »
What have you started here, Lesley...

I've had a rummage through my collected seeds and have found a few candidates for a germination experiment - comments for the improvement of the experimental design are welcomed.

These are not what you'd call recalcitrant seeds, being those that I have in sufficient quantity and aren't too special to have a play around with. However, they should serve for a rough'n'ready experiment, and given the claims for the effectiveness of the "cup of tea" method we might see some difference in germination (and subsequent growth/flowering?) even in these species. The seeds have all been collected by me this year, except for 6. which is from the SeedEx and so a 2013 collection:

1. Muscari armenaicum
2. Muscari - un-named cv., pale blue
3. Narcissus pseudonarcissus - un-named cv., big trumpet
4. Scilla siberica
5. Scilla verna - wild-collected ex Berneray
6. Scilla verna - wild collected ex Orkney

I will test the following five treatments:

A. soaking as per Lesley's instructions using green tea
B. soaking as per Lesley's instructions using black tea
C. soaking as per Lesley's instructions using water
D. soaking for 24 hours only using water
E. no soaking

I've included treatments D and E as they will help to quantify the magnitude of any effect of the "cup of tea" method. Applied to each of the seed collections the five treatments will give 30 experimental pots in total.

We might expect to see a range of germination rates ranging from the highest/fastest (treatment A) through to the lowest/slowest (treatment E). So, the null hypothesis is that: soaking seeds prior to sowing has no effect on germination rates (speed and %age) and our alternative hypotheses are that:

- Soaking seeds in water results in faster/higher germination rates
- Longer soaking of seeds (>24 hours) results in faster/higher germination rates
- Soaking seeds in black tea as per Lesley's instructions results in faster/higher germination rates than using only water
- Soaking seeds in green tea as per Lesley's instructions results in faster/higher germination rates than using black tea

Other variables will be kept the same as far as is possible:

- seeds have all been exposed to the same storage conditions;
- 15 seeds will be sown for each treatment;
- seeds will be soaked in equal volumes of liquid from the same source/brew
- they will be soaked/sown on the same dates;
- the same size pots will be used (7x7x8cm);
- and the same medium (my usual gritty, loam-based bulb mix and top-dressed with grit);
- sown pots will be kept in the same location (in a frame covered with shade netting to keep the harshest winds off, but otherwise exposed to the elements);
- subject to the same watering regime; and
- anything else done to one pot, will be done to them all.

I will make regular* observations of the pots to record whether there are any signs of germination (cotyledons breaking the surface of the sowing medium) and if so how many seedlings there are. The results will be recorded in a table for later analysis. I'll let the experiment run until all germinated seedlings have gone dormant next summer.
*I'm unsure what the frequency of observation should be. Lesley's experiences with her Irises suggests rapid results, which would require daily observation. But I suspect that the seeds I'm using, that require a period of cold to germinate, may not react so quickly so less frequent (weekly?) observations might be adequate. However, there's rarely a day that goes by that I'm not checking on my pots, so I'll start with daily observations and see how it goes.

As regards observations of growth (leaf height? leaf number?) and time to first flowering... let's see how things go. It might be better to focus on germination rates at this stage, but making observations of growth probably would not be onerous (i.e. monthly).

Assumptions (can't be verified/measured with the means available):
- any effect of the "cup of tea" method is due to the presence of giberellins (rather than any other factor)
- unfermented green tea contains higher levels of giberellins than fermented black tea
 
Limitations:
- I don't have access to the Iris seeds for which Lesley reported an anectodal effect (not meaning to disparage your observations Lesley, just being scientifically rigorous)
- the use of cold germinating species may hide/diminish any effect of the "cup of tea" method
- holidays in Sept (timed with the Late Bulb Display)  ;) and at Christmas will mean there are gaps in the data set.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2014, 01:26:07 PM by Matt T »
Matt Topsfield
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SJW

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Re: The "cup of tea" method for germinating seeds
« Reply #19 on: July 30, 2014, 02:25:33 PM »
Very thorough, Matt, and I look forward to seeing how this experiment progresses. It does seem logical that it is the gibberellins in the tea leaves that are stimulating germination (http://www.plantphysiol.org/content/41/8/1381.full.pdf). In which case I wonder if you'd get similar results using tea made with mashed up young leaves and growing points of any species? Perhaps worth soaking the seeds in such an infusion as well as the plain water and camellia teas? More work though...
Steve Walters, West Yorkshire

lily-anne

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Re: The "cup of tea" method for germinating seeds
« Reply #20 on: July 30, 2014, 07:02:26 PM »
 Thanks for the extra info Lesley  !
Matt , It seems to me a serious scientific experiment. That way we get clear evidence if it really works thanks for the effort ! I look forward to seeing how this experiment progresses.

johnralphcarpenter

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Re: The "cup of tea" method for germinating seeds
« Reply #21 on: July 30, 2014, 10:52:33 PM »
How about an infusion of fresh Camella sinensis leaves?
Ralph Carpenter near Ashford, Kent, UK. USDA Zone 8 (9 in a good year)

Matt T

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Re: The "cup of tea" method for germinating seeds
« Reply #22 on: July 31, 2014, 06:14:01 AM »
Good idea Ralph... but Camellia are a bit thin on the ground up here.  ;D

Will keep it in mind for a second iteration of this experiment perhaps.
Matt Topsfield
Isle of Benbecula, Western Isles where it is mild, windy and wet!

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Martinr

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Re: The "cup of tea" method for germinating seeds
« Reply #23 on: July 31, 2014, 07:34:23 AM »
Nice to see Design of Experiments used properly :)

Susann

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Re: The "cup of tea" method for germinating seeds
« Reply #24 on: July 31, 2014, 09:18:54 AM »
Matt, very impressing! it will be very interesting to follow your experiment. Even I might try it, if it gives a good result.
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johnralphcarpenter

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Re: The "cup of tea" method for germinating seeds
« Reply #25 on: July 31, 2014, 01:12:01 PM »
Good idea Ralph... but Camellia are a bit thin on the ground up here.  ;D

Will keep it in mind for a second iteration of this experiment perhaps.
I have Camellia sinensis in the garden so may give that a try.
Ralph Carpenter near Ashford, Kent, UK. USDA Zone 8 (9 in a good year)

Tim Ingram

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Re: The "cup of tea" method for germinating seeds
« Reply #26 on: July 31, 2014, 02:09:56 PM »
If the stimulation of germination is due to GAs in the tea leaves then the more concentrated dried leaves are likely to have the greatest concentrations of hormones compared with fresh leaves. The levels are higher in the young growing tips of the plant and also it is here that the active GA is produced and metabolised. This is true in all plants not just camellia so other dried plant material infused for drinks may well have the same result. Gibberellins are related to steroids and relatively insoluble in water (extraction of them makes use of organic solvents and differing pH under lab conditions), so tea leaves brewed with boiling water are probably about the best way of extracting them in a simpler way. It will be really fascinating to see the results of experiments like Matt's, and probably worth trying with more tricky seeds to germinate like cacti, some irises, maybe a number of the dry-land alpines like penstemons which are often slow and unreliable when sown.
Dr. Timothy John Ingram. Nurseryman & gardener with strong interest in plants of Mediterranean-type climates and dryland alpines. Garden in Kent, UK. www.coptonash.plus.com

Lesley Cox

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Re: The "cup of tea" method for germinating seeds
« Reply #27 on: August 01, 2014, 05:12:22 AM »
First signs this morning of germination in two pots of Iris ensata, sown on July 22nd!
Lesley Cox - near Dunedin, lower east coast, South Island of New Zealand - Zone 9

lily-anne

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Re: The "cup of tea" method for germinating seeds
« Reply #28 on: August 01, 2014, 06:18:22 AM »
Lesley,  How long is the normal time for the germination of Iris ensata  ?

fermi de Sousa

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Re: The "cup of tea" method for germinating seeds
« Reply #29 on: August 01, 2014, 08:16:23 AM »
Hi Lesley,
thanks for this new method; I'll put it in the next AGS Vic group Newsletter and see if our members can join in the experiment!
cheers
fermi
Mr Fermi de Sousa, Redesdale,
Victoria, Australia

 

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