July 12, 2023

Radicle - noun

Definition: The part of the plant embryo that first grows out of the seed during the initial stages of germination, eventually developing into the plant’s primary root system.

Radicles in the Forest Garden:

The radicle is an embryonic root that anchors the seed and draws water and nutrients from the soil for it to begin growing. When propagating seeds, it is important to protect the radicle to increase its chance of surviving germination and eventually maturing into a healthy and vigorous plant. This attention is especially important when pretreating the seed by scarification.

Particularly for larger seeds, positioning the radicle into the soil correctly is important. The main goal of the radicle is to grow into the soil so it can access water and nutrients. While radicles are geotropic by nature, meaning that they grow towards the gravity of the earth, it is still important to place larger seeds in the soil on with the radical facing downward. This will allow the radicle to develop in the correct direction from the start. For smaller seeds, radical placement is not as important as it requires less energy to change the growth direction of the root. 

Forest Gardeners must also pay close attention to newly sown seeds. It is important to keep them moist enough to survive, but to be careful of overwatering. Though desiccation may occur from underwatering, overwatered seeds are prone to damping off, which is a fungal disease that can develop is the soil remains too moist for too long.

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