I am starting to gain confidence, however. My fall-planted garlic is still doing well, despite a couple of days last month where we dipped below freezing. And now, there is this:
That my friends is a lemon tree seedling sprouted from a supermarket lemon. Here's how I did it. (Click through to see!)
First, I knew it was possible. However, I also knew that commercial growers have all kinds of things to contend with... stock branches are sometimes grafted to a different breeds' roots, for better hardiness and survival. This makes what comes out of the seed kind of a gamble... if it's a grafted tree, you get the genetics of the root stock. Or at least that's my understanding. And of course, a bag of supermarket lemons isn't going to say whether it comes from a grafted tree.
I could end up with some weird orange tree hybrid. (Not really, but the thought flitted through my head)
Second, I did a google search and found this video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B13GUBuqWjc I read through the comments too, for a little bit. Then I busted out a sharp knife and made lemonade. (And my apologies, there are no more pictures.... I didn't know this was going to work, I was just goofing around, so I didn't document it)
I started with five seeds. I peeled off the tough whitish exterior veeeeery carefully. I was left with a yellowish white seed that looked like a sunflower nut, but a bit more roundishly fat, with a bit of tan at the fat end. Here's where I started experimenting. On most of them, I did as the video directed, and scratched off the tan part with the tip of my knife. (Be careful... those little suckers are slippery) but on a few of them, I went even further and just took the whole seed "skin" off. I placed them in a baggie with a damp paper towel as directed and waited.
After about five days, I started to see little nubby roots on most of them. After a week, the roots were more pronounced. (They certainly grow slower than the food sprouts I made for snacks) At this point, three of them looked viable for planting. It took me another day or two to get around to it, as it was bitterly cold and all my empty pots were outside. Plus, I had no bagged dirt left, so I was going to have to poach from my empty garden bed. I am a wussy when it comes to cold, wet hands.
Now here was the tricky part... I planted the three well-rooted seeds into the pots, pointing the roots down as best I could (they grew kind of askew while in the baggie). Then I had to keep them moist so that the tiny root wouldn't dry out and die. This is not easy in a gas-heated home. I have killed my third potted rosemary plant... dammit. It's really dry in here.
I consider this a grand success. Of course, now, day-dreams of starting my own citrus nursery occupy my thoughts. Ha! I'm so predictable. What am I trying to sprout now? Apple seeds. I'll let you know how it goes.