A couple of years ago we grew a tiny bit of Rodney oats from Dan Jason. The yield wasn’t bad but threshing was difficult. So we put the idea of oats aside. Then in late 2011, in a very good blog that I follow - Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog - I read about something called Cavena Nuda. A bit of digging into Vernon Burrows and I decided to buy some Cavena Nuda at our local health food store. I did a germination test and the results were so-so: 12 0f 25 germinated. It was too small a sample to conclude anything. So we seeded a small 3′ x 3′ raised bed this past year. Germination was terrible. I re-seeded. Germination was terrible. I re-seeded germination was terrible. I gave up at the end of June.
After the tough drought of last summer, we had begun our winter R&R – research and reflection, when I decided to have another go at germinating Cavena Nuda. I figured that maybe germination was poor because the grains had been treated with a growth inhibitor to prevent germination in the jar. I didn’t know. So I rinsed the grains and left them in water overnight. Then I rinsed them again and put them in petri dishes. If I could get enough seeds to germinate, I could put them into seed cells and then transplant them out. The idea would be to grow them out to have my own seed for direct sowing next year. That way I’d be working with fresh, untreated seeds. First, I had to test out the germination/seed cell process.
A week later, there was germination.
And the seedlings got potted up the next day.
The growth was explosive.
A week later the roots were coming through the holes in the bottom of the seeding cells.
Since the plants were doing so well, I decided to pot them up. Maybe I’d be able to transplant them out. Since they were going to be in pots for a while I was concerned that the roots would become pot bound and start to circle the bottom of the pot. I’ve been doing some reading on air pruning. As soon as roots make contact with the air, the exposed bit dies but new branching roots are produced and you end up with a very fibrous root ball. I didn’t have any air pots but I did have some Agribon floating row cover material. So Joyce sewed up a couple of bags and I potted up 4 seedlings in each bag.
But that’s not the end of this story. I won’t be able to plant them out though but I might be able to harvest them!
And the roots have been air pruned by going right through the fibre walls of the pot.
I have no idea how this is going to end up. I started out doing a germination test and ended up with grain. Grain in pots under lights was not part of the plan. Well not part of my plan but obviously part of Nature’s.
More pictures here.