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The nature of the various seeds

In most plants the seed is round, in some oblong; it is broad and foliaceous in some, orage for instance, while in others it is narrow and grooved, as in cumin. There are differences, also, in the colour of seeds, which is either black or white; while some seeds are woody and hard, in radishes, mustard, and rape, the seeds are enclosed in pods. In parsley, coriander, anise, fennel, and cumin, the seed has no covering at all, while in blite, beet, orage, and ocimum, it has an outer coat, and in the lettuce it is covered with a fine down. There is no seed more prolific than that of ocimum; it is generally recommended to sow it with the utterance of curses and imprecations, the result being that it grows all the better for it; the earth, too, is rammed down when it is sown, and prayers offered that the seed may never come up. The seeds which are enveloped in an outer coat, are dried with considerable difficulty, that of ocimum more particularly; hence it is that all these seeds are dried artificially, their fruitfulness being greatly promoted thereby.

Plants in general come up better when the seed is sown in heaps than when it is scattered broad-cast: leeks, in fact, and parsley are generally grown by sowing the seed in little bags: in the case of parsley, too, a hole is made with the dibble, and a layer of manure inserted.

All garden plants grow either from seed or from slips, and some from both seed and suckers, such as rue, wild marjoram, and ocimum, for example—this last being usually cut when it is a palm in height. Some kinds, again, are reproduced from both seed and root, as in the case of onions, garlic, and bulbs, and those other plants of which, though annuals themselves, the roots retain their vitality. In those plants which grow from the root, it lives for a considerable time, and throws out offsets, as in bulbs, scallions, and squills for example.— Others, again, throw out offsets, though not from a bulbous root, such as parsley and beet, for instance. When the stalk is cut, with the exception of those which have not a rough stem, nearly all these plants put forth fresh shoots, a thing that may be seen in ocimum, the radish, and the lettuce, which are in daily use among us; indeed, it is generally thought that the lettuce which is grown from a fresh sprouting, is the sweetest. The radish, too, is more pleasant eating when the leaves have been removed before it has begun to run to stalk. The same is the case, too, with rape; for when the leaves are taken off, and the roots well covered up with earth, it grows all the larger for it, and keeps in good preservation till the en- suing summer.


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