It was a colleague (AKA Satu) who put the idea in my head, and the idea was this:
When you have eaten your fruit why not plant the seeds or stones?
If they don’t grow, what have you lost? If they do grow, you’ll have a new and interesting plant. Even if you know it probably won’t fruit in the climate you live in it’s still an interesting and free thing to do.
I planted some citrus seeds in the spring. They came from an undersized orange and I used a method I found by googling. I can’t find the page again, but this is what I did. I soaked them for 24 hours in tepid water and then spent a frustrating time encouraging them to germinate by peeling off their slippery white husks to leave the beige inner seed. If you do this I advise that if. like me. you are doing it over the sink you should ensure that whenever the slippery little things fire out of your fingers and make a bid for freedom, unlike me, you will have already put the plug in to prevent them sliding straight down the drain!
When I’d finally finished peeling them (I had 6 left) I just planted them in multipurpose compost and waited impatiently. They take longer than you might expect to germinate and I have to confess that on more than one occasion I dug them up a bit to see if anything was happening. Shortly after I had given up on them the first shoot pushed up the soil. The others took their time; it was several weeks before the last got around to growing.
I was surprised and fascinated to see that the first seed to sprout was in fact twins. Now I’ve done a little reading I know that citrus seeds often are polyembryonic but I was particularly wrong-footed by it as at the same time I had a courgette plant producing conjoined twin courgettes and I felt a little ganged up on by unexpected multiples. I couldn’t tell you if the baby orange trees were identical or not as they all look pretty much the same to me! Later I had a couple of orange seeds come up as triplets. I have read that some of them will be genetically identical to the parent but others will be different and have more of the characteristics of a wild citrus tree. Apparently those characteristics are undesirable but as I am not hopeful of getting them to fruit in the British climate and even if they did it might take them 10 years to get around to it, I am happy to have a few more genetically diverse ones in my collection.
I am also growing some plum trees which I planted outside last autumn. I have three doing well and a fourth which is the runt of the litter. I won’t bother saying much about them as plums are happy growing in this climate and so are a little less interesting to write and read about than the more exotic seeds.
I am more excited by my pomegranate seedlings. After removing the fruit pulp from the seeds I let them dry out for a few days before planting. I had meant to soak 5 and dry 5 and then see which were most successful but I forgot them and they all dried out. However, 7 germinated so drying seems quite effective. As with the oranges they took weeks longer than I was hoping to germinate and when they did grow they started at different times. I am intrigued by them because after the initial pair of leaves the seedings began to show differences, as you can see in the three pictures below. They seem to be quite individual even at this early stage. I shall be very interested to see how they develop.
I did try growing a mango seed but I don’t think I kept it warm enough to get started. I’d like to try figs and lychees next but I’ll wait until I see the fruit on special offer. I find it wonderful that seeds I would have thrown away in the past can make such interesting plants and even if they don’t always grow at least I already had the fruit to enjoy.