Semi-scientific Seed Starting

I don’t believe in astrology; I’m a Sagittarius and we’re skeptical. ~Arthur C. Clarke.

I’ve been noticing lately that I don’t really fit anywhere, which upset me for a bit, but now I am ok with it. I’m a Gemini, so I am a mess of waring dualities. Plus I don’t believe in astrology. I am, at heart, a natural hippie that distrusts the technology, pharmaceutical medicines, and mindset of modern man. I am, at heart, a scientist, that distrusts the hand-waving and emotional decision-making of new age man. I am a skeptic. I am a skeptic who knows they don’t know everything. I am a Luddite who uses a computer extensively. I am a rational being who has been known to buy homeopathics. I am a hypocrite. Oh well. I certainly don’t mean to offend anyone who has a more open mind, towards science, spirituality, or any combination of the above. I am who I am, but I am a very young and incomplete being.

Sprouting Cardoon

So I am starting seeds, it is what you do this time of year. I’ll just say right now that I am skeptical of moon planting. But mostly I am just too haphazard to plan my planting around the moon. I haven’t even seen the moon lately. I plant when I have time to plant. I have found these juicy tidbits on the web about planting with the phases of the moon:


Dr. Frank Brown of Northwestern University performed research over a ten-year period of time, keeping meticulous records of his results. He found that plants absorbed more water at the time of the full moon. He conducted his experiments in a laboratory without direct contact from the moon, yet he found that they were still influenced by it.

No direct contact from the moon, huh?

At, they calculate the difference between the gravitational effect on a 1 g seed from the moon at apogee and perigee and get 80 N. Here is one calculation:

At Perigee

F= (6.67 x 10-11 N m2 kg-2) x 1gm X 7.4 x 10^22 kg / 360,000^2

F= 380.8 N

Unfortunately, they didn’t pay attention to units (g, km etc), and a quick recalculation gives me 3.8×10-8N. So the difference in pull would be a paltry 8×10-9 N. Granted, this is an order of magnitude more than a 1kg (2 lb) rock sitting within a cm of the seed, so who knows…Just seems that parked cars and houses and trees and boulders and soil densities are generally going to affect things about as much as the moon, but then maybe every bit helps.

So, upshot, I haven’t yet put any effort into planting with the cycles of the moon, but I’m not totally against the concept. I am a lazy seed starter and I can’t get it together to follow either a scientific or a spiritual seed starting regimen. I think the biggest things against me are my cheap refusal, so far, to buy seed starting soil, grow lights, and keep the house warmer. Not paying attention to the moon is probably the least of my worries!

A bunch of permie people (people in the permaculture group) here are reading a book called Anastasia. It is a bit too man-centered and garden of Eden-ish for my taste, but probably not without some tested rural wisdom. There is a prescription for starting seeds by placing them in your mouth. There is more to it, these plants are supposed to connect with your intentions and the universe, and your specific ailments/chemistry/etc and grow to be healing plants specifically for you. You also stand barefoot on the earth you will plant them in and hold them up to the stars and other things. I think the best part of ritual is focusing your own intentions. I once participated in a Wiccan ritual and most everything I requested of the universe happened – quickly and fairly close to the appropriately open yet specific requests. My science brain tells me that it is the narrowing down and focusing on your desires that is the key. Most of the time we bipse along with vague feelings and desires and inclinations and hopes. If I sit down and say ‘I want this seed to grow really well and healthily, and provide nutritious, healing food’, and put time and energy into a ritual around this intention, then I am more likely to take good care of and foster this outcome. If my brain expects the plant to be healing, then it is probably more likely to help my body heal when I eat it too.

However, I am a normal, harried, over-extended American. So I put the seeds in my mouth and wrote in my garden journal or did dishes or hung laundry for a few minutes, then planted them in my egg-carton seed starters. Many seeds are designed by evolution to be swallowed by animals, partially digested, and shat out with a nice pile of instant fertilizer. I have read that many berry seeds grow best after this treatment. The mouth method of seed starting doesn’t send them through the whole digestive system, but it does pre-soak them (many seeds like to be pre-soaked), get them warm, and subject them to digestive enzymes in saliva that may help eat away defensive seed coatings. I notices that some seeds (basil in particular), swelled quite a bit and developed a soft, jelly-like, white coating (a breaking down seed coat?) after being in my mouth for a few minutes. Normal water soaking may have done the same, but it seemed like a positive development. A warning! – Only do this with organic or your own saved seeds. Conventional seeds are probably coated in something toxic that you do not want in your mouth. You can spit in a jar and put the seeds in there with your spit for a few minutes instead.

Just for gratuitous spring pictures – here are a few from yesterday from outside:

Breakup - the ugliest time of the year!

A tulip on the warm side of the house.

Strawberry and red clover coming back around apple tree

One from inside: our newly green bedroom - at least something is green!


5 responses to “Semi-scientific Seed Starting

  1. I’m wounded to the core!! I’m your father so of course you fit somewhere – as my lovely and loving daughter. Don’t be so quick to judge the world – even Sarah found her niche?

  2. Note your own baby picture in the middle of our bedroom wall o’ pictures. I know where I belong. I think it is ok to not totally fit in a world where Sarah has a niche!

  3. I was born under the STOP sign.

  4. Think I’m SOL with the planting theories. My greenhouse has an asphalt floor. Even so, I will attempt to grow pumpkins and corn in there this year. Who needs elbow room??
    Also, waiting to plant outside garden until the chickens are CONTAINED in a new fence. They really like to throw my soil around, and will probably eat any seeds I plant. (need any chicken poo??)

  5. Oh yah, I’ll take your chicken poo anytime! I haven’t even gotten to a cold frame yet, much less a greenhouse, so you are miles ahead of me (and with chickens and living bees to boot 🙂 – I’m still taking baby steps! I’ve been planting outside in soil that is mostly just sand fill dug from around the house – so much for living soil prep – I’ll throw compost and mulch on it, but really should have spent a year preparing the garden with that and cover crops! I am so haphazard, it is always amazing that my garden does grow.

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