I just can’t help myself when I see an acorn or nice shiny conker on the ground when I am out and about walking Marley beagle. I’ll pick them up (often leave them in my pockets for a week or so) and when I get around to it I’ll start preparing them for the winter. It is quite the addiction, but it feels great to do things that I believe help mother nature.
Have you ever planted something that you have collected from the ground? If not, here is a little simple guide to collecting and planting acorns at home.
The best time to collect acorns is early autumn when the trees gently start to turn from green to orange.
Fallen acorns can be collected from the ground, or also can be collected from the tree itself (note: if collecting from the tree directly, please double check whether the owner of the tree has given permission first!).
Try to find acorns that are a green or brown colour and are a little weighty; the top caps should come off easily. Leave behind any acorns that feel particularly light or have little holes where insects may have burrowed inside.
Even though you may have a nice large acorn collection, some acorns may not make the final cut for germination. It is quite possible that some bugs or squirrels have beaten you to it, so your acorns may not grow.
Unsure whether your acorn is healthy? No problem- there is a simple trick to double check!
Place the acorns in a bucket (or buckets) of water to see if any float. Discard the floaters, and keep the sinkers for planting. Insect damaged or dehydrated acorns will have some air space inside the shell which is what makes them float.
Exposing your new healthy acorns to the cold mimics the natural environment of the winter months.
Take the healthy acorns out of the water and dry them off. Pop them in a bag or container with damp sawdust and coco coir
mix (or any other growing medium that can hold moisture) and put them in the fridge.
Some blogs say to leave for a month or so, but I tend to leave for as long as is needed to germinate the new oak seedling.
Check on them every couple of weeks to make sure they are still damp, add a little water if they are dry, or give them a rinse if they are a little mouldy.
This process is known as stratification… pretty cool right!
After a while you’ll start to see little shoots develop from the acorn, when you see these you are ready for planting!
Very carefully take the acorn out of the bag or container and place it in a small pot or grow bag
with some potting mix or compost, root side down. Keep well watered and then watch it grow-this is the fun part!
Good luck, and have fun on your oak journey, please share some photos if you do decide to have a go yourself!
(Extra: Last year we bought some UV lights and kept our little seedlings in recycled small pots under light during the winter months; this really sped up growth rapidly. We kept them well watered and left them for a few months. We had to be careful when taking them outside afterwards though as they were a little fragile. Good luck!!)