We were walking in leafy Surrey last week and found ourselves ankle deep in acorns, so, having read recently on Kate's blog that acorns make good chicken feed, I thought I would gather some and bring them home. It seemed a shame to leave them all to the squirrels. So I taking the plastic bag from my pocket, - being a responsible dog owner I find all my coat pockets are stuffed with plastic bags these days, -we gathered quite a few handfuls, including leaves and other detritus, tied up the bag and brought them home. As we also gathered some chestnuts, food for people took precedence over food for chickens when we got back and the acorns languished in their plastic bag on the countertop for several days. When I opened the bag this morning, I was amazed to see this
virtually all of the acorns had germinated, some with shoots three or four inches long.Now it comes as no surprise to me that, as all small children know, from tiny acorns, great oaks will grow, but I didn't realize that they would do so quite this readily. So I took them out to the greenhouse and put them in a tray of compost, and will wait to see if they grow into little seedling oak trees next year, I could have my own forest Obviously this rate of germination can't happen with all the acorns that fall from the tree, since if this were the case oak trees would be crowding out stockbrokers and bankers in Surrey. And what a shame that would be.
I started to wonder if there's some way that they"know" when they're in a new environment, and can germinate away happily, so I looked it up, and rather more prosaically, apparently they tend to dry out when they just fall to the ground, and only germinate when a squirrel carries them off somewhere and buries them in damp ground, or when he ties them up in a plastic bag and leaves them on his countertop for a few days.I prefer to think they just know..