It all starts with a seed

Today was time for the next step in our latest experiment. After leaving the pots filled with field soil to acclimatize for a week, and watering them several times to reach a more homogeneous soil moisture, we sowed our experiment today. I say we, because I was helped today by two wonderful and motivated PhD candidates. I don’t often sow seeds directly into pots (I often use seedlings germinated on sterilized glass beads), but given that this experiment is about artificial light effects on plants, I wanted to expose the seedlings to the nocturnal light treatment from the moment they were alive and growing. That meant we had to sow seeds directly in pots. And I really hate that… As we work with herbaceous plants, many of the seeds are awfully small. Like, less than a millimeter small. It’s difficult to work with such tiny seeds. It’s also always a guess as for how well they will germinate. I have worked with nine of the twelve species before, and I am used to great germination. On glass beads. In ideal conditions. I try to convince myself that seeds will do even better in live soils in perfect conditions. In reality, it remains to be seen. In reality, I will be anxiously biting my nails for the next three to four days, waiting for the first cotyledon-shaped sign of hope. To ensure proper germination we sowed multiple seeds per pot, and we will weed out extra seedlings when seedlings have established. All should be fine. Note to self: you got this!

Whatever happens next, even if only one out of twelve species has proper germination, I will still have a functional experiment, but obviously I would prefer to have all of them included. Data from the current experiment will inform my next plant community experiment, so ideally I will get data on all twelve. I guess I’ll report here when my seedlings are reaching out!

Pots labeled and sown with twelve species
Excellent help!

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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