This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V22", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
It is a well-known fact to all who have had experience in sowing tree seeds, that the period required for germination is of the most uncertain character. Sometimes seeds sown will germinate the same season, and then again in another season, they will remain in the earth until the next before they sprout. But even when they do sprout a large lot will remain over until the succeeding year, and it is not uncommon for some to appear several years after the first seedling appeared. The why of all this has been a puzzler. The following from the Scientific American indicates that the least mature are the first to germinate. It does not strikers as a satisfactory solution, as, in view of the facts we have given, it would seem as if the vast majority were the least mature. But we give it as recording the current views of the day: -
" Many instances have been put on record by different observers of unripe seed germinating, and several botanists have conducted extensive series of experiments in raising plants from seeds in different stages of development. At first sight it seems rather surprising that an imperfectly formed embryo should grow into as vigorous a plant as a mature one; but, when we understand the general plan of growth in plants, the phenomenon is intelligible. Thus, ferns actually develop from a single detached cell. This property of premature germination may be taken advantage of in practice in propagating plants that do not fully ripen their seeds in our climate. A rather longer period elapses before unripe seeds actually germinate, but frequently the progeny is equal to the best from mature seeds. Formerly it was supposed that only ex-albuminous seeds would germinate when unripe, but M. Sagot, a Frenchman, succeeded in germinating green grain of wheat in which the albumen was soft, semi-liquid and milky, and several other experimenters have raised different cereals from grain collected a fortnight to three weeks before the crops, from which it was taken were ripe.
Although the practice of sowing unripe seeds is not likely to become general, and would not be profitable under ordinary circumstances, it might be useful to know in the case of a rare plant suddenly dying before its seeds were mature, that there was a possibility of their germi nating, and thus preventing the loss, may be, of a valuable plant".