“The very act of planting a seed in the earth has in it to me something beautiful. I always do it with a joy that is largely mixed with awe. I watch my garden beds after they are sown, and think how one of God’s exquisite miracles is going on beneath the dark earth out of sight.” . Thaxter.
Again seedtime has arrived! An instinctive urge arises within the city dweller as well as the tiller of the soil to plant those small granules which contain the embryos of the prospective crops and flowers. How difficult it is to realize that amazing transformation which takes place from a little seed to a lovely fragrant flower; from a handful of miniature plants encased in hardened shells to an entire harvest of grain! Never will we cease to wonder at this marvelous development in the plant kingdom.
Perhaps, your curiosity has been aroused when you plant your seeds as to their structure and latent possibilities. Externally the seed is covered with a protective coat called the testa, which is generally very thick and tough. The testa protects the delicate embryo within from adverse weather conditions and drying out. Upon closer examination with a hand lens you will notice a scar which indicates the place where the seed was formerly attached to the stalks. At one end of the scar you will find a minute opening through which the inner plant breathes and drinks. This little pore is called the micropyle.
Within every seed is a miniature plant consisting of a root, a stem, and a bud. A supply of food consisting of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates occupies most of the space within the seed and thus enables the small plant to get a start. Approximately 50 percent of the moisture is removed from the seed during the process of ripening. This dehydration preserves the seed and retards the growth processes until Spring.
When the temperature rises and the spring rains descend the seed awakens. The moisture penetrates the small opening and causes the embryonic plant to swell. The rapidly distending cells of the embryo use the food stored within the seed and obtain oxygen through the breathing pore. As the embryo enlarges it ruptures the water soaked seed coat— its winter garb—and sends its little roots into the earth.
Greater than the marvel that each small seed contains a wee plant is the fact that each seed consistently reproduces its kind. A zinnia never produces a sweet pea. Why not? Because in the beginning God established a definite law that everything should bring forth after its kind. Surely, all of plant life testifies of the Creator’s design in reproduction. Microscopic examination would reveal that the individual cells of the minute seed plants contain a definite number of small bodies called chromosomes which determine the characteristics of the new plan. These chromosomes are inherited from the parent and cause it to resemble the plant which produced it—therefore, it would be impossible for the zinnia to produce a sweet pea.
Protected through the wintry blast
By providential plan divine;
Lies hidden in this tiny nest
’Til rains descend and sun rays shine,
A tiny plant so frail, so fair
E’re to us a wondrous sign!