Anna, age 11

by Anna Durand
(Ñuble, CHILE)

A Tree-mendous Cycle

Hidden on the ground, perhaps even in your backyard, are acorn seeds that you may have never noticed. They are the ones which have something that looks like a cute French hat on them. Because squirrels dearly love to eat acorns, they hide them here and there to store for winter. However they are poisonous for people to eat unless you boil them first. The order of the blooming cycle of an acorn is tree-mendous!

First, in the Fall, you should diligently collect green acorns because they are fresh and new. Do not pick ones which have holes or worms. Put the acorns in a bucket of water for a few minutes and do not use any that float. Place the rest in a zip lock bag with some moist sawdust in the refrigerator where they will stay cool.

All Winter long carefully keep the acorns in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. The cool period while they are in the fridge is called stratification. Keep a sharp eye on them. This may sound nutty but they will begin to germinate!

Once the root end has finally broken through the shell of the nut, plant them where they will have much room to grow. They are ready to sprout! Place the root side down about 2-4 inches in the soil. Since it is Spring it rains a lot but take care that your new sprout stays moist.

In about six months your tree should be about four inches tall. If next winter the leaves turn brown and fall off, do not be overly discouraged because this is normal even for a small tree. So what kind of tree will you have in a few years? A tiny acorn will grow into an enormous oak tree!

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