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Common Mistakes Made While Growing Seeds Indoors
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View image slideshow Following a lead from South African botanists, scientists at Kings Park and Botanic Garden in Western Australia found that it is not the heat and ash from a fire, but rather the smoke that holds the key to germination for many native Australian plants. Over native species of seeds respond to smoke treatment. Smoke can be applied as water i.
Research has found that smoke responsive native species occur throughout temperate southern and arid Australia. Even species from habitats which are not fire-prone e. Note: Tropical species may require research to determine the extent to which smoke may be important for germination. Trees, shrubs, herbs and annuals respond to smoke-treatment.
There is no clear distinction in the relationship between taxonomic groups and the requirement for smoke. Proteaceae, Myrtaceae and most other dominant Australian plant families contain smoke responsive species. Some experimentation is essential to determine if an untested species might be smoke responsive.
Do not rely only on evidence from related species to predict if a species is smoke responsive. Research at Kings Park and Botanic Garden has found that after a bushfire, smoke is deposited as a residue on soil and is then washed through to the soil seed bank when autumn rains arrive for southern Australia. It has also been shown that smoke-like chemicals are released from the soil organic layer following physical disturbance, leading to a promotion of germination similar to that following a bushfire.
For regions in southern Australia, smoke is best applied from autumn to early winter. For tropical or arid zone species, some experimentation may be required to determine the best time to apply smoke.
Regional Water Plan Seed Grant Funds | Environmental Protection Division
As a general rule, sowing and smoking should be done when germination is most likely to occur in nature. Note: Smoke is highly water soluble amd over-watering of seed trays can leach the active agents from the soil before seed dormancy has been broken. Liquid smoke water or aerosol smoke are the two most common methods for applying smoke to soil or seeds. Seeds can be smoked directly in a smoke tent or alternatively soaked in a dilute solution of smoke water see below for method for hours.
Treated seeds are then dried and sown when required. Alternatively, trays containing sown seeds can be smoked in a smoke tent for 60 minutes and then carefully watered for the first days to ensure adequate penetration of the smoke chemicals. Broadcast seed which has been smoke treated is an effective way to germinate a wide variety of species.
Smoke treated seeds used in broadcasting often germinate better including seeds of species which do not normally require smoke for gemination under nursery conditions e. Eucalypts, Banksias. If a seed bank is present in soil then good germination is possible following the addition of smoke either using aerosol smoke area for treatment is limited using this method or smoke water using automated sprayers.
REGEN is a synthesised smoke product which is a more concentrated and cost effective means, for broad-acre application of smoke. See the image slideshow on this page which illustrates a typical smoke tent with smoke generator, cooling pipe and inlet fan. The tent can contain up to three levels of shelving. Leave approximately 30 cm between each shelf to ensure adequate flow of smoke between the shelves. Smoke water is produced by drawing smoke from the smoke generator through drums L containing water for up to 60 minutes see illustration.