Most people find harvest to be the most enjoyable stage of growing a vegetable in your garden, but sowing seeds and watching them germinate can also be a lovely experience.
When a seed starts to germinate, first it anchors itself in the soil with a root; here, one white root is visible near the top right. Then, most of the remainder of the seed transforms into cotyledons, or seed-leaves. Cotyledons generally look completely different from a plants’ other leaves. These are mustard seedlings.
Even within one crop type, some varieties will take noticeably longer than others to germinate. Often varieties that are more similar to the plants’ wild ancestors will take longer. Wild plants don’t get as dependable a supply of water or protection from cold. These collards and kale seedlings are for our 2015 trial and observation plot.
Knowing your plant families can help a lot with seedling identification. Seedlings from the same family often look very similar. For example, these pepper seedlings look a lot like tomato seedlings. The front center seedlings shows it strength by pushing a lump of soil up and out of the way.
Bigger seeds unsurprisingly make for bigger sprouts, but these two kinds of flower seedlings should take about the same amount of time to get to transplanting size, so we planted them in the same flat.
Anise-hyssop, at left, takes a lot longer to germinate than Holy basil, at right. Once they germinate, both grow quickly.
As the cotyledons unfurl, we can still see parts of the dark red seed coats of these red lima bean shoots. Below the red layer, we can see that a brown membrane and a thicker green layer also encased the cotyledons.
This okra seedling looks a lot like a cotton seedling. They are in the same family.