There are seeds that can be started right now however.
|Assortment of Carolinian seeds.|
Seeds from most annual plants can be sown in spring and will grow no problem but many native plants seeds start off dormant and require a period of stratification to break this dormancy before the seed can grow.
Different seeds require different types of stratification and it's sometimes a matter of trial and error before you can determine which stratification method will work. Mimicking the natural cycle of a seed in its native environment will usually do the trick; and most native seeds will have documented stratification info somewhere.
The most common type of stratification required is where the seed is moist and cool for a period of time but sometimes a warm moist period or combinations of the two may be needed as well.
Stratification can be done naturally by planting the seed outside in the fall and letting the seeds go through their natural cycle to break the dormancy or it can be mimicked indoors. This method is probably the simplest and least labour intensive.
Stratifying indoors can be done using a variety of methods but one method that is quite successful is the 'baggie method'.
|Nodding onion ready for the fridge.|
The baggie method involves using a seal-able plastic bag and moist coffee filters/paper towels/cotton balls. Cut the coffee filter in half an fold in half a couple times. Dip the coffee filter in water and then squeeze out the excess water until the filter is damp but not soaking wet. Open up the coffee filter and place your seeds inside then close the filter. Place the filter inside the bag and seal it up. Label your bag with the name of the plant and the stratification details. (ie. date put into fridge and date to take out of fridge).
If the seeds require cold stratification place them in the fridge for the prescribed amount of time. Its a good idea to periodically check your seeds just in case they have germinated a bit early.
|Container of seeds being stratified in the fridge.|
Some seeds will require only a few weeks in the fridge whereas others may require months. It is a good idea to plan ahead when to start stratification so you can time putting seedlings outdoors in good weather.
|These pawpaw seeds require 100 days cold stratification.|
Once you have noticed your seeds germinating it is time to plant them into soil. Tweezers are quite handy for picking up the germinated seeds. Plant into seed starting mix and place in a sunny location until they are large enough to plant outdoors in spring.