March 16, 2022

Seed Dormancy - noun

Definition: An evolutionary adaptation that prevents a seed from germinating until it is in suitable ecological conditions that would lead to a higher chance of survival.

Seed Dormancy in the Forest Garden:

Dormancy is a particularly interesting concept in the the Forest Garden Approach. When a seed is dormant, it means that it has not germinated yet. Farmers use this to their advantage by storing certain seeds until they are ready to plant them.

However, when a farmer is ready to sow the seeds in their nurseries, dormancy is no longer very helpful. Farmers can break their seeds' dormancy by recreating the conditions under which they will germinate. This often requires pretreating the seeds. Pretreatment methods vary by species, but commonly include placing seeds in hot water then allowing them to soak, and/or nicking (scarifying) the seed coat to allow water to penetrate the seed. Pretreatment enables farmers to break their seeds’ dormancy and ensure uniform germination in their nurseries.

Want to learn more about agroforestry? Sign up for our FGTC newsletter here. Plus, join our FGTC Facebook Group to get connected with a global community of agroforesters.