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Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

Tuesday 27th March 2012

One, informal, definition of addiction is that it is the compulsion to keep doing the same thing over and over again knowing that it will end badly but convincing yourself that this time it will be different.

By that definition, I am an addict but my excuse is that I know my ‘same thing’ doesn’t have to end badly because it once almost ended well and I believe it can again.

After abandoning my last attempt I swore that it was just that, THE last attempt but, this morning the postman delivered an airmail envelope containing another envelope, containing a bubble-wrapped resealable plastic bag containing 30 seeds of Strychnos nux-vomica.

I said on 25th February that I was feeling the urge to have one more try because of how close I got to success with one of my previous attempts. Those previous attempts were the subject of my third ever blog entry so this is, clearly, something of an obsession for me.

The problem results from the seeds being very large and having a very hard coating. As you can see estimating them to be ‘about the size of a pound coin’ is pretty much spot on (I so nearly wrote ‘on the money’).

Strychnos nux-vomica

All the information I’ve seen suggests it takes around three months for germination to occur and during that time the chances of over-watering causing the seed to rot or under-watering causes the seed to dry out and die are very high.

I’m going to divide my seeds into several batches and try different techniques with them. Over the time I’ve been trying to do this I’ve been advised to stand the seeds on edge so excess water can run off easily, soak them in cow manure before planting them out as well as all the usual ideas about chilling them, heating them and taking sandpaper to the seed casing to make it easier for the germinating plant to break out.

The problem is that, because I’m not that meticulous about noting how I do things in the garden, I don’t know what I did to the two seeds that actually germinated all those years ago. If I can get some to germinate, I’m sure my gardening techniques have improved and I’ll be able to keep them alive past this stage.

Strychnos nux-vomica

If anyone has a successful method for germinating large seeds (I don’t expect to find someone who has grown Strychnos nux-vomica but there must be other plants with large, hard seeds) I’d love to hear from you. Either complete the simple contact form or send me a tweet @thepoisongarden Thanks.