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(c.) Sowing and Germination of the Seed.

The outer covering of the seed is of great hardness, and under ordinary circumstances it will remain in the ground for many years before germination.

I am indebted to Mr. William Neilley, of Sydney, for what appears to be a well-authenticated instance of wattle seed remaining dormant in the ground for over 37 years. An allotment of land in the town of Bega, purchased from Mr. Spence, formerly had wattles on it, but the trees and all wattles near had long since been destroyed. After a lapse of 37 years Mr. Neilley had the land ploughed, and wattles sprang up thickly when the ground was trenched.

Bush-fires, however, usually hasten matters; and it is well known that perfect forests of young wattles spring up in many places after these occurrences. The operations of nature are therefore assisted in practice by means of heat, and this heat may be either dry or moist. For the first, Mr. J. E. Brown recommends a quantity of brushwood to be burnt down to the condition of expiring embers. “In this residuum of the fire the seed is


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placed, and mixed up with the ashes and charred coals, and the whole is then allowed to remain until cooled down. The seed is now ready for sowing. If the intention be to sow it singly, by dibbling or in some other way, it will have to be cleaned and separated from the residue of the fire by riddling, or by the aid of an ordinary grain-winnower. If, however, the seed is to be sown broadcast, it will be sufficient if the embers are raked off the heap, and the remainder, containing both ash and seed, stored ready for sowing. The advantage claimed for this method of preparation is that the seed can be sown either broadcast upon the ground without covering, or dibbled in the soil in the ordinary way, at any season of the year, and especially before the winter rains set in.” Care will, of course, require to be exercised to prevent loss by over-burning. A frying-pannote is used by some people for roasting wattle seeds.

Secondly, the method of treatment by boiling, or hot water. Mr. Brown has recommended that the seed be placed in a vessel, water almost boiling poured upon it, and left to soak for one or two days; the seed is then taken out and kept damp in a bag until swelling takes place. “The only drawback to this system is that, when sown, the seed must of necessity be covered with soil, and that the operation be carried out in the winter season only. Unless the seed be covered as it is put out, so as to keep up the necessary supply of moisture to complete germination, a change of dry weather would undoubtedly result in its entire loss.” Nevertheless, this is the method which Mr. Brown recommends growers, especially beginners, to adopt.

Professor Tate, who, in addition to his scientific knowledge, has had much practical experience in wattle-planting, has instituted a series of experiments upon the temperature to which wattle seed may be exposed in assisting it to germinate. The experiments are useful, in that they enable the operation of treatment with hot water to be conducted with greater confidence. In my own case I have been afraid to destroy the vitality of seed by the application of too high a temperature, but Professor Tate shows that the seeds may be boiled for several minutes without injury, though there is no advantage in heating the water above 150°F. I quote his important experiments from Mr. Brown's Report:—

Experiment 1. Acacia pycnantha.—Equal parcels of seeds saturated with water at the following degrees of temperature:—

150°

170° The seeds germinated in about equal proportions at the end of three weeks.

190°

200°

212°

Experiment 2. Acacia decurrens (A. decurrens var. mollis = A. mollissima, is here meant.—J.H.M.)—Seed saturated with boiling water, and kept in wet sand in a warm place, germinated at end of two weeks.

Experiment 3. Acacia saligna.—Seed saturated with water at 212°, July 22nd; seeds began to burst, July 29th.

Experiment 4. Acacia pycnantha.

July 22nd, boiled for 1 minute.

July 22nd, boiled for 3 minutes. All the seeds germinated August 9th.

July 22nd, boiled for 5 minutes.

July 22nd, boiled for 7 minutes.




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The importance of care in the selection of seeds can hardly be over-estimated. They should be gathered from thoroughly healthy trees, for it is false economy to use any but the best procurable.

Mr. G. S. Perrin, State Conservator of Forests, Victoria, recommends half a bushel of sand to be mixed with each pound of seed sown, and after treating the seed with hot water, as before described, to broadcast thoroughly, as in sowing wheat. He justly remarks that, if done with discretion, much after-labour will be saved in the thinning process.

Mr. F. Abbott recommends that the seed be soaked and simply sown broadcast on ploughed ground.

In soaking seed (as directed) for sowing, sufficient only should be prepared for one day's sowing at a time. Where seed has been soaked and sown, it must be covered immediately with soil, say by means of light harrows.

Mr. J. E. Brown advocates the raising of wattles in bamboos. The raising of trees by this means is so common in India, has been so successfully carried out in South Australia,note by Mr. Brown, and is, withal so simple, that I give a brief account of the method here, compiled from that gentleman's evidence before the Victorian Royal Commission on Vegetable Products, and published in the Fourth Progress Report. A wattle planter in New South Wales substitutes little twists of brown paper for the “bamboos,” and doubtless other simple expedients are in use.

Method of Tree-propagation by means of “bamboos.”—In India the true bamboo is used because it is abundant; in South Australia a large South European reednote (Arundo Donax, Linn.), which locally bears the name of “bamboo,” is used instead. The reed is cut to 4 inches in length, by means of a small circular saw driven by hand or water-power. Endeavours are made not to include joints in the pieces cut, but if one should occur it is bored through; the pieces are packed together upright, filled with soil, the seed put in, and allowed to remain there till the planting season. The seedling is transplanted in the “bamboo” just as it stands, and in cases where the bamboo is not sufficiently rotted, they are split up, in order to allow the roots to expand. Five hundred trees thus start their careers, and can be transported in one small box—a brandy case for instance.

In planting with wattles that wretched desert country near the Melbourne-Adelaide Railway, from Bordertown to Murray Bridge (hitherto considered useless for any purpose), Mr. J. E. Brown, in giving evidence before the above mentioned Commission, stated his intention simply to roll the scrub down, scatter the seed, and then set fire to the scrub. This rolling is effected by making a team of bullocks draw an old boiler; the larger saplings are previously cut with an axe.

“Five years ago I put in 50 acres of wattles in a very sandy portion of Mount Burr Forest, and next year I intend stripping it, and I have no doubt I shall receive 5 tons per acre from it. The country is very sandy—almost pure sand—the seed was sown broadcast, a flock of sheep run over it to trample it in, and the crop was so thick that we have had to thin it twice.”—(J. E. Brown).




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Mr. A. L. Thrupp, of Woodside, South Australia, is in timbered country opposed to the felling of the timber (non-wattle), as he is of opinion that the trees if ringed, form, even in their dead state, a protection of no mean value against frost and high winds for the young wattle plants.

Seed is preferably sown immediately the winter season has set in.

Mr. F. Krichauff, of South Australia, caused wattle seeds to be sown upon some sandy land in the Bugle Ranges during May and August. Those sown in August made much greater progress than those sown in May. The seeds were sown upon a young barley crop, and then trodden in by sheep.—(Journal of S. A. Bureau of Agriculture, Nov. 1889.)

Following are extracts from a leaflet, giving a few simple directions in regard to wattle cultivation, which has been issued by the Superintendent of Technical Education, under the direction of the Minister of Public Instruction. Some of the points have already been touched upon:—

Nursery.—If there be only a small area to be planted with wattles it is best to raise seedlings in a nursery. Whilst young they can be easier looked after and protected. Wattles will not stand transplanting at every season of the year with any degree of success; therefore they should be planted in small flower-pots or bamboos, in which they can be readily taken to the open ground. If grown in flower-pots, three or four seeds in each will be sufficient. When the plants are up, weed out all but the strongest one. After they are a few weeks old the pots will be found to be full of root; they should then be removed to their permanent home. To take them out of the pots turn them upside down, and by placing a finger in the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot the plant with its roots can be easily taken out, and will suffer nothing by removal. In the State Nursery at Gosford the seeds are sown in boxes containing peaty loam, mixed with clean, sharp sand, the soil being kept always moist. When the seedlings are sufficiently established they are transferred to the open ground.

To sow broadcast or in drills.—If the seeds have been assisted in their germination by means of hot ashes, rake or sift out the larger coals and sow the ashes with the seeds. If the germination has been commenced by the hot water process, mix the seed thoroughly with dry ashes or sand—this will prevent the seeds from sticking together—then sow broadcast or in drills in the usual way. If the seeds are to be dibbled they must be freed from the ashes. Whichever method be adopted for sowing, the seed should be well covered, and in the case of those that have been soaked in water this is essential, for a few hot and dry days would effectually check all further growth. Three or four seeds at about three feet apart is the distance required; this will allow for thinning.

“Do not cover the seeds too deeply; about an inch underground will be ample.

“Sow sparingly; this will save a lot of thinning afterwards.”

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