Over much of the Australian continent Australian native plants have evolved to survive the regular bushfires that occur regularly, but particularly through the hotter months of the year. Over many thousands of years our First Nation people also developed cool burning techniques to manage Country. In all habitats but the rainforests of eastern Australia our native plants have evolved adaptations that not only allow them to survive bushfires, but in many cases to thrive and outcompete other species. The two dominant groups of plants across the continent, eucalypts and wattles are classic examples of this. Eucalypts contain essential oils that make them more prone to burning, with their capacity to resprout from dormant vegetative buds below the bark and at the base of the tree giving them the capacity to burst back to life. Wattles, by contrast have seeds with incredibly hard coats that can lie dormant in the soil for decades until a bushfire causes the seed coat to expand, allowing entry to water that stimulates the embryo to germinate. In a fascinating development about thirty years ago, plant scientists discovered an additional adaptation for yet other species, in that chemicals from the smoke of a bushfire stimulate dormant seeds of plants such as kangaroo paws to germinate and spring to life.
Research conducted at Kings Park & Botanic Gardens in Perth showed that smoke can provide a major boost to the germination of many Australian native plant seeds. Various ways to apply smoke to seeds were developed, using tents to enclose the smoke to allow the seeds to be exposed to it, or bubbling smoke through water to allow it to absorb the various chemicals. It was found that using this smoke water to impregnate vermiculite, and then sprinkling the resultant product onto seeds as they were planted, was an easy and mess free method for the home gardener to use.
The Gardening with Angus seed range brings you the vermiculite that is designed to be sprinkled on top of the mix that the seeds have been sown into. When the container is watered the chemical that stimulates germination (Karrikinolide) is released onto the seed that then results in better germination.
Using the Gardening with Angus smoke treatment
Open with care onto a sheet of paper, avoiding windy conditions when opening the packet. When sowing seeds into a pot or tray, sprinkle a small quantity of the granules onto the surface of the potting mix after sowing the seeds and gently water them in. Normal daily watering after that will continue to wash the booster into the soil for a few days to further enhance its action.
A packet of Gardening with Angus Native Smoke Granules contains approximately 3.5 grams of granules (made up of 2 separate 1.75g satchels). This 3.5g will cover a total area of 12cm x 20cm, however, if seeds are sown in rows then the vermiculite will go further if you just sprinkle it on top of the rows with the seed underneath. It takes only a tiny amount of the active ingredient in the granules to start germination. However, extra granules shouldn’t harm the seeds if, for example a larger amount is spilt onto the seeds.