How to stratify nuts in your refrigerator and then sprout your seeds.

Nut trees are easy to propagate from seed. Before the seeds will sprout, the seeds must see hundreds of hours of stratification temperatures between 32 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Your refrigerator is ideal for stratifying nuts. You just take the seeds you want to grow in a sealable bag and store in your refrigerator for two months. The seeds stored must be moist without being wet. The best way to keep the seeds moist is to blend in moistened peat moss with the seeds in a 50% mix with the seeds. It is important that there isn't water visible inside the bag or the seeds will mold. If you see water gathering on the bottom of the bag, just take a rag to soak up the excess water and reseal the bag.

After a minimum of two months in the refrigerator most seeds will sprout when potted after three weeks. There seems a small percentage that will wait two seasons or two stratification periods, before they will sprout. So if you see 60 to 75% of the seeds sprout and the remaining seeds don't sprout do not worry about it. Some will bring the seeds to a warmer room and put into a potting mix keeping the seeds moist and wait for the roots to appear and then pot the seeds. The latter method is a bit more work but you know that the pot will have a tree and not wait hoping the seed will sprout.

We use soilless potting mix and most any potting mix will do except potting soil that is for acid loving plants. You can use most any container from a paper milk carton or plastic soda/energy drink bottle. Just cut the top off the container and put a few holes in the bottom to allow water to drain. Your homemade pot should hold a minimum of six inches of soil to allow the roots to grow without becoming root bound. Root bound is when the roots have overgrown the space they were given and the roots have intertwined on itself before you could plant the tree. Root bound potted trees when planted can stymie the trees growth with roots that choke each other denying proper growth, stunting the tree. It can take years for this issue to show! Keep the soil moist not wet. If the soil is over watered, it will mold. If too dry your seedling may go into shock and stop growing. Once in shock it may not grow for a month or even shut down for the season, stunting its growth. Hazelnut shutting down in this manner is another reason hazelnuts are nearly indestructible. If there is a severe drought they just shut down for the season and come back next year.

Everyone thinks that all they need to do is put the pots near a window or under a generic fluorescent light and the seedlings will be fine. The light in spring is sparse to begin with and if they only get light from a window it will only be a fraction of sparse. Your trees will be spindly and weak. A standard fluorescent shop light that is a couple years old will not generate enough light for your trees to sprout with energy. Two of the newer 5000 lumen shop lights about a foot above the soil and as the trees grow you need to raise the lights to maintain that foot. Think of the light source as energy for the tree and air is needed for the sap to flow through evaporation from the leaves. Good light and air flow will allow your trees to grow happily.

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