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pine cone seeds

Pine cone seeds
Empty the contents of the bowl back into your shallow pan and lightly roast the nuts until the hard outer shell cracks and the soft nuts inside fall free. You may need to gently crack a few of the stubborn hulls using a rolling-pin.

How to Extract Pine Tree Seeds

More often used for decorations, pine cones contain seeds for planting or eating.

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If you have ever eaten the seeds of a pine tree or thought you might like to grow your own pines, you may have wondered whether you could harvest the seeds yourself. The answer is yes, but collecting pine tree seeds takes a bit of work. To start, you should understand that some trees contain large seeds, which are good for eating, while others do not. Learning to identify the pines in your area is your first step toward successful harvests, whether for eating or planting.

Collecting Seeds for Planting

Look for groups of pines of the species desired. Only female trees produce fertile seed, so you must learn to recognize the differences between the male and female trees before picking the cones. Male pines produce cones that are very small, while female pine tree cones are larger.

Select pine cones that are still closed but brown, picking directly from a well-formed and healthy tree. Do not choose open cones whose seeds will have released already or green cones with non-viable, immature seeds.

Dry the cones on a flat surface, with a cloth or tray to collect any seeds that may drop, in a warm room or in the sun. Alternatively, place them on a piece of hardware cloth raised above a tray for more even drying if the cones are wet.

Collect the seeds as the cones dry and begin to open in the warmth, shaking them if necessary to dislodge seeds. If, after shaking them, any of the seeds cling to the cone, you can remove them with your fingers or tweezers.

Store the seeds in a paper bag in a cool, dry place until ready to plant.

Collecting Seeds for Eating

Collect pine cones as for planting, but choose species with cones containing large seeds.

Set the brown closed cones in a shallow pan and place it close to a fire or in a barely warm oven with the door open, to heat the cones but not cook them.

Watch the cones as they heat, turning them often to heat evenly all around. Remove them from the heat source when the scales of the cone begin to open.

Peel back the outermost scales with your fingers and carefully pick out the seeds near the center of the cone. Place them in a bowl as you work.

Empty the contents of the bowl back into your shallow pan and lightly roast the nuts until the hard outer shell cracks and the soft nuts inside fall free. You may need to gently crack a few of the stubborn hulls using a rolling-pin.

Pick the nuts out by hand or winnow them by tossing the seeds and hulls in the air in a breeze, allowing the heavier nuts to fall back into the pan and the light hulls to blow away.

Eat the nuts raw at this point or return them to the oven to roast until dry and somewhat brown. Store in an airtight jar.

Pine cone seeds
Prepare a potting mixture of 3 parts potting soil, 1 part peat moss, 1 part pine bark and 1 part garden sand. Do not use beach sand which may contain salt. Fill 4-inch pots with good drainage with the potting mixture. Place one seed in each pot. Cover the seed with one-quarter inch of potting mixture. Water well. Place in a full sun location, protected from the wind.

How to Germinate Pine Cone Seeds

How to Germinate Pine Cone Seeds

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Growing a pine tree from seed is a task for a patient gardener. Worldwide, there are more than 115 different species of pine trees. Many are native to Sunset Climate Zones. Others that grow well in Sunset Climate Zones have been introduced from other countries with similar climates, including Japan, China and Australia. Pine trees are evergreen trees, retaining their long, deep green needles year-around. Pine cones are not a seed nor a fruit. They are a tight cluster of woody scales grouped together to protect the developing seeds inside. Pine cone seeds, properly stratified, can be germinated fairly easily to cultivate new trees. When you have harvested the cone from a local tree, you are more likely to grow a tree that will be successful in your climate.

Collect seed in the fall when cones begin to open. Open cones have already dropped their seeds. Collect closed cones only. Wearing garden gloves, bend back the needles and twist the cone off the branch. Place cones in a paper bag in a warm location. When the cones open, the ripe seeds fall out in the bag.

Store seed in the freezer. Remove the seed from the freezer approximately 60 to 90 days before the last spring freeze. Allow the seeds to warm naturally to room temperature. Place the seeds in a glass bowl of lukewarm water and soak for 24 to 48 hours.

Drain the seeds but do not let them dry out completely. Place moist seeds in a zipper-top plastic bag and place in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator for 60 to 90 days. Do not allow the seeds to freeze. After the seeds have stratified for 60 to 90 days, remove from the refrigerator.

Prepare a potting mixture of 3 parts potting soil, 1 part peat moss, 1 part pine bark and 1 part garden sand. Do not use beach sand which may contain salt. Fill 4-inch pots with good drainage with the potting mixture. Place one seed in each pot. Cover the seed with one-quarter inch of potting mixture. Water well. Place in a full sun location, protected from the wind.

Keep the soil mixture in the pots uniformly moist. Consistent, even moisture is critical to seed germination. Do not allow the surface of the soil to dry out completely. As seeds germinate and develop, water daily. When seedlings are 8 to 12 inches tall, they are ready for repotting or transplanting to a permanent location.