Stratification of Seeds
Necessary but not Sufficient

Bill Devlin
Adams County Master Gardener

A year or so ago, I wrote an article, on "Stratification of Seeds". Later I found that in our rabbit and deer rich environment that is a necessary but not sufficient step to growing trees from nuts and acorns. The little varmints are hungry. They eat. They love tender seedlings.

What to do? You have probably taken a ride in the lovely countryside that makes south central Pennsylvania such a wonderful place to live. You may recall seeing fields with long thin plastic tubes spaced evenly in rows. These are "Tree Shelters", a reasonably recent development in the horticulture of trees. They perform several helpful functions. First, they provide protection from varmints, hungry rabbits and deer. Secondly, they provide a mini-greenhouse environment, keeping the wind chill down and the temperature a little higher than ambient. Third, they are a visual indicator that tree seedlings are present so they aren't inadvertently mowed over or grazed by cattle or horses.

After growing some pecan seedlings from stratified nuts last year, and transplanting to Lake Kay Park in Carroll Valley, I was upset that the rabbits had their way with them and I ended up with lifeless brown stubs. That's where the not sufficient part of the title comes from. I tried again by replacing the seedlings, but knew that it would come to naught if I didn't provide some protection. I tried local garden stores but came up empty handed. Through the Master Gardner program I learned that they could be purchased through Franklin County Extension.

There was a rub though; the minimum quantity was 50 at a cost of about $125 or $2.50 apiece. I budgeted for a purchase and placed my order. They come in a large plastic sack, with the tubes in sets of 5 with diminishing diameter nested together. I ordered a length of 48". The diameters vary from 4.5" to 3" so they nest for practical shipping.

The results are shown in the photo of the replacement tree in Lake Kay Park, Carroll Valley.

As a practical matter, if the reader is interested, how can they proceed? To bring this from the wholesale to the retail level, I make the following offer. I have a new bag of 50 tree shelters, and lots of fresh pecans from a recent trip to my farm in Kansas. I will stratify some of these nuts, and provide, in mid-March 2006, 10 stratified pecans and 5 tree shelters at cost, or $15. To avail yourself of this offer, please email me at devlinw1@AOL.COM. The offer is limited to 10 sets, first come first served.

Read other spring related gardening articles

Read other articles By Bill Devlin