March 9, 2022

Recalcitrant Seeds - noun

Definition: Also referred to as non- or un-orthodox seeds, these seeds are unable to survive drying or freezing for conservation due to their inability to maintain a low moisture content.

Recalcitrant Seeds in the Forest Garden:

Last week, we highlighted the benefit of long-term storage of seeds at a programmatic level. This week, we are taking a closer look at how recalcitrant seeds can also be stored to benefit farmers, albeit for shorter periods of time.

Many of the valuable agroforestry trees farmers plant in their Forest Gardens are sown from recalcitrant seeds. Seeds from important fruits like mango, avocado, and papaya, for instance, are recalcitrant. Though they cannot be stored for long periods like orthodox seeds, recalcitrant seeds still do maintain viability for short periods if properly processed, stored, and maintained. If kept under proper storage conditions, these seeds can be sold or saved for personal use. 

For recalcitrant seeds to remain viable, follow these steps: 

  • Place the seeds in a grain sack or porous container to allow for airflow.  
  • Add 1 part of either peat moss, charcoal, or saw dust for every 3 parts seed to maintain moisture
  • Store seeds in a dark room and above ground
  • Check on seed conditions twice a week to ensure seeds remain moist and free of pests and mold. 
To read more about how farmers can make use of recalcitrant seeds, check out this story about Victoria Akoth, a Kenyan Forest Gardener who started a seed bank as a second business.

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