Scarification is not what you go looking for in a haunted house. Instead, scarification is the damage done on purpose to certain seeds to increase their chances at germination.
Scarification refers to three methods used to damage hard, protective seed coats, allowing more air and water to enter. This speeds up the germination process. Scarified seeds do not store well, so they need to be planted soon afterwards. Scarification can be done by mechanical, chemical, or thermal methods.
Plants suited to scarification
Scarification is particularly useful when planting woody legumes, lupines, nasturtiums, morning glories, lotus, moon flowers, sweet peas, birdsfoot trefoil, milkweed, or hazelnuts. Generally, it is the larger seeds that need scarification. Beans are the exception to that rule. While you can scarify bean seeds, they don’t need it to germinate.
In nature, scarification occurs when animals chew hard-coated seeds (mechanical). Passing through an animal’s digestive system also degrades a seed's natural protection (very chemical). Some plants need smoke or fire (thermal scarification) before their seeds will germinate. Also, exposure to changing weather patterns, ice or snow, will, over time trigger a seed to germinate. Sometimes, we don’t want to wait that long.
Commercial agriculture relies heavily on crops that grow and reach maturity at a consistent rate. It’s the only way to take advantage of the economies of scale provided by heavy farm equipment and large acreages. Scarification can help farmers get crops to grow uniformly by triggering seeds to germinate at the same time with these artificial forms of scarification:
Before you plant a seed, learn as much as you can about its natural life cycle. This information can help you decide if scarification is a good idea.
Just be careful not to harm the seed within (or your fingers)!
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!