Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Apple Seeds

"Look at them all, Mighty Mouse! We're going to grow tons of apples."


The girls stand over a plate piled with apple seeds, ones they've dug from the cores themselves.

"Can we plant them now, Mommy?'

"Uh, I don't know." And that's the truth. I have no idea if you can just plant an apple seed. It sounds too easy. "I need to look it up."

I head to the computer and, within a few clicks, enter the world of plant propagation, a world complete with it's own vocabulary: words like rootstock, scion, hybridization and pollination are everywhere.

It would appear that modern day apples, the ones we buy at the grocery store are hybrids. This means they are the result of two or more types of trees that have been grafted together. There is only a 30% chance of a seed germinating and growing to full size, and that's assuming the seed is not sterile to begin with. Even then, there is only a 5% chance that the mature tree will bear fruit and it could take up to 10 years to find out. It is almost definitive that the apples will not resemble the fruit from which the seed came from, and, in fact, may be completely inedible. Add to this the pollination wild card (i.e. tree sex) and you've really got a crap shoot.

I never imagined I'd ever be so disillusioned by an apple seed.

"So, Mommy, can we plant them?"

"Yeah, can we?"

I look at them, their big blue eyes so hopeful. I shut down my browser and push my keyboard away. "Come on. Let's do it."

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