Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Great Citrus Experiment

The experiment continues. . .

Kumquats. On January 8th, I began soaking kumquat seeds. Have you ever eaten or even seen a kumquat? It looks like a tiny, oval orange. You eat the entire thing, rind and all. In fact, the rind is sweet, and the flesh is tart. It is an interesting experience. I slowly consumed about a dozen, and harvested the seeds, over a period of about 2 weeks. As I spit each seed out, I dropped it into a glass of water. As you can imagine, the water was a disgusting mix of seeds, spit, and flesh. On Thursday night, I decided to change the foul liquid and noticed a few of the seeds were floating. On closer inspection, I realized that the floating seeds had germinated and little green shoots were poking out of the seed case. I planted the four sprouting seeds immediately. The rest are soaking until they show me signs of life. I assume that the sprouters were some of the seeds I first started soaking. If so, they only take about 12 days to germinate.

Lemons. On January 9th, I started lemon seeds soaking. Following Joyce’s instructions, I planted them after a week. It’s been four days and there are no sprouts yet. If lemons are as slow to grow as my tangerines, it could be two months.

Tangerines. In early January, a third shoot appeared. I don’t think any more of the seeds will sprout. After more research, I’ve discovered that you should not allow citrus seeds to dry out before attempting to germinate them. My tangerine seeds did dry out, and remained dry for a few days, before I began soaking them. That may account for the slow sprouting and poor germination rate (about 30%).

Limes. I buy limes at least twice a month to make hummus. I’ve been very disappointed to find that the variety I find in the grocery store has no seeds. I am hoping to make the rounds through some ethnic grocery stores to find a kaffir lime with seeds. Kaffir lime leaves are used in Thai dishes and I’d love to have a fresh supply.

Planting all of these seeds is lots of fun...but I am worried that I will be overtaken by trees. At my present rate, I am going to need more pots and soil shortly. As soon as the weather warms up (it is currently 11.5 F), these babies are going outside to grow. I hear that citrus trees make great gifts, so perhaps many Cincinnatians will be receiving a lemon or tangerine or kumquat tree next Christmas.


Blogger Scott in Washington said...


I think you should consider growing strawberries from strawberry seeds...

"A final, and very common, example of a way to scarify a seed coat is observed in strawberry and raspberry. The thick seed coat is designed to be swallowed by the frugivore. The animal digests the fruit pulp, but the seed coat passes through the digestive system still protecting the viable embryo inside, but weakened enough to allow sprouting! The seed is deposited with a little organic fertilizer in the environment and can now sprout! "

12:47 PM  
Blogger Ilona said...

Probably the only strawberries worth growing from seeds are the "alpine strawberries", like ‘Alexandra’ . Most strawberries are propagated from runners and have special qualities, but there's always someone to prove one wrong.

2:37 PM  
Blogger Kasmira said...

I think I have enough strawberries. It could be a case of mistaken identification - but it looks as if most of my lawn is made of tiny strawberry plants.

6:23 AM  
Blogger Adi said...

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8:22 AM  

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