We received this from Fred Bergman and are posting it here with our thanks to him. We hope you'll find it useful! From Seed Sowing, the easy way, 1996. Orchid Review, 104:23-25. A note to me from Fred.... The best general purpose media I have found is Hill's Seed Sowing Medium available from G & S Laboratories 645 Stoddard Lane Santa Barbara CA 93108. An amateur bottle makes l Liter, costs $ 6.50pp. Ca residence add 7.75%. Supplies are available from almost any chemical supply house, one being the Aldrich Chemical Company Phone 1-800-558-9160, Fax 414-273-4979. They accept credit cards. They have Erlenmeyer flasks, 500 ml, Z14,053-8 at 4.15 ea or 6/22.95; rubber stoppers, size 7, Z16,437-2, 20/16.75; plastic sample vials with caps, 1.85 ml, Z13,618-2, 12/9.95; or glass vials with caps, 2 ml, Z29,169-2, 100/29.00; and pH paper, Z11,181-3, 6.00/pkg. Calcium hypochlorite can be obtained form a swimming pool supplier; copper sulfate from a garden center, and demineralized water at almost any supermarket. Desicant packets can usually be obtained at no charge from your nearest pharmacy.Total cost about $70. I was off a little. Tyndallization may be used to sterlize your media if a pressure cooker is not available. However a pressure cooker is more convient and reliable. Tyndallization consists of steaming 3 to 4 times at 24 hr intervals. Room temperature is maintained between steaming intervals. Use a covered kettle provided with a wire rack that suspends the flasks over the boiling water. Boiling should continue until the contents reach the boiling point and is maintained for a few miniutes. SEED SOWING, THE EASY WAY Many orchid enthusiasts have been told that the germination of orchid seed requires special skills and equipment. This is no longer true. Recent developments have made it possible for anyone to successfully sow seed. The only special equipment required is a large pressure cooker normally used for canning. During a study of seed disinfection, I discovered that it is possible to add disinfection solution and seed directly to the flasks. Good germination is obtained when the following conditions are met; use only calcium hypochlorite (CaHc), use CaHc at a very low concentration and a low pH, and remove the CaHc solution from the flask after the seeds have settled to the surface of the media. I also found that flasks could be safely opened for seed sowing by working under a cloth towel moistened with 10% liquid bleach. These two techniques were combined and tested repeatedly, producing viable cultures free from contamination. The sowings were made in an area attached to a greenhouse where plants and blooms are normally packed for shipment. This area, far from a clean room, demonstrated the effectiveness of this novel approach. Over the years I have avoided reflasking, a task I do not enjoy, by adopting the technique of sowing seed thinly and restricting the loss of moisture from the media. This approach makes it is possible to produce husky plants without reflasking. By combining this novel seed sowing technique and eliminating reflasking, it is possible to sow seed successfully without the use of an enclosure or a laminar-flow hood. This paper provides a description of the entire seed sowing procedure so that the novice will not have to search the literature for supporting information. Many of the required supplies are already available in your home. The following is a list of the special supplies you will need to acquire. 1-Calcium hypochlorite (CaHc) 2-Six 500 milliliter Erlenmeyer flasks 3-Six one-hole rubber stoppers to fit flask 4-Copper sulfate 5-pH meter or pH paper to cover the 5 to 6 range 6-Dehydrated orchid media for one liter of solution 7-Six small bottles with caps, 3-5 milliliter capacity 8-Three liters of demineralized water Seed sowing starts with the proper harvesting of seed. When a capsule starts to change color, began checking the capsule on a daily basis. When a crack first appears, remove the capsule and split the capsule lengthwise. Place the capsule on a sheet of writing paper and cover the seed and capsule with a second sheet of paper. After 24 hours the seed can be shaken from the capsule. The seed, if viable, will be free flowing and light yellow to brown in color. After separating the seed from the capsule, store the seed in a folded section of writing paper. If the seed will not be sown for several weeks, place the seed packet and a desiccant packet in a small closed container. Store the container in the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator. When you are ready to sow the seed, remove the container from the refrigerator and allow it to warm to room temperature before opening. There are four operations that can be performed ahead of time: (1) locate a jar with a plastic cap that holds about 250 milliliters (one half cup) and add about 30 grams (2 tablespoons) of copper sulfate. Fill the jar almost full with water and shake the solution occasionally until all the copper sulfate has dissolved, (2) pack the hole in each rubber stopper with adsorbent cotton, (3) cut twelve, 12 centimeter squares of aluminum foil, and (4) prepare a stock solution of (CaHc). You must determine how much CaHc powder will be required to prepare the CaHc stock solution. This is done by dividing 2.0 by the percent of available chlorine in the CaHc. This will give you the number of grams of CaHc required for 1 liter of stock solution containing 2000 ppm as available chlorine (AC). For example, if the CaHc contains 65% AC, (sometimes listed as the active ingredient) divide 2.0 by 0.65 to find that 3.08 g of CaHc should be dissolved in 1 liter of demineralized water. If you prefer to use non metric units and/or you do not have a sensitive balance, use the following procedure. The weight of a level one quarter teaspoon of CaHc is close to 0.85 g. Multiply 0.85 by 1000 and divide by 3.08 (the weight of CaHc determined following the above example). The result is 276, which is the milliliters of water to be used with one quarter teaspoon of CaHc to produce a 2000 ppm AC solution. Finally, divide 276 by 29 to find that 276 milliliters is equal to 9.5 fluid ounces. Using 29 in the conversion of milliliters to fluid ounces produces a solution within 5% of the desired concentration using either British or US fluid ounces. Preparation of the solution consists of measuring the water, adding the CaHc, and stirring for several minutes. Allow the solution to stand for 10-15 minutes and filter the solution using either a rapid filter paper, like a #4 Whatman, or a coffee filter. Collect the solution in an amber glass bottle, or a bottle covered with aluminum foil, and store in the refrigerator. A stock solution prepared and stored following these directions will be good for at least a year. When you are ready to sow your seed, prepare the media at least one day ahead. If you purchase dehydrated media for 1 liter of solution (which is enough for 6 flasks), you will not have to weigh the media. Media preparation consists of pouring, while stirring, the dehydrated media into 1 liter of demineralized water contained in the top section of a double boiler. Add water to the bottom section of the double boiler, replace the top section containing the media, and bring the water in the bottom section to a gentle boil. Continue boiling for about 20 minutes, or until the media has dissolved and is free of lumps. When completely dissolved, pour 160 milliliters of media into each 500 milliliter flask, using a funnel to prevent the media from contacting the neck of the flask. Stopper the flasks loosely with the rubber stoppers, cover the stopper and top of each flask with an aluminum foil square, and place the flasks in the pressure cooker. Heat and bring the pressure cooker up to 1 kg/cm (15 psi). Maintain the pressure for 30 minutes. The media requires several hours to gel, so after you discontinue heating, either move the cooker to where you will be sowing the seed while it is still quite warm or allow it to cool completely before moving. When you are ready to sow the seed, add 5 milliliters (1 teaspoon) of CaHc stock solution to 40 milliliters (8 teaspoons) of demineralized water. Add white vinegar drop by drop until the pH is between 5 and 6 using a pH indicator. This final solution of disinfectant contains 250 ppm (AC). Finally, add 1 or 2 drops of liquid detergent and set the disinfectant solution aside. Once the pH has been lowered the solution is only good for a short time. If you should you be interrupted for an hour or more, prepare a fresh solution. The next step is to place the seed, equal in volume to a half grain of rice or less in one of the small (3-5 milliliter) bottles. One bottle should be prepared for each flask you will sow. Set the bottles of seed aside and add 100 milliliters (one half cup) of liquid household bleach to 900 milliliters (4 and one half cups) of water in a wash pan or other shallow container. Add 10 milliliters (2 teaspoons) of sodium bicarbonate to the bleach solution to make the solution easier on your skin. Put on a pair of disposable latex gloves and place 2 hand towels, of tightly woven material, in the wash pan. Submerge the towels in the bleach and wet the surface of the gloves with the bleach solution. Next, take the seed bottles and add the dilute CaHc solution (200 ppm of AC) to each bottle leaving a small air space at the top. Firmly cap each bottle after filling, and when all of the seed bottles are filled, shake the bottles briskly to wet the seed. Shake the bottles occasionally for the next 10-15 minutes. While the seed is soaking, open a sheet of newspaper next to the pressure cooker and wash pan. Wring out the hand towels and spread them open on top of each other on the newspaper. Now drop the bottles containing the seed in the bleach in the wash pan. Release the lid on the pressure cooker, remove 1 flask, and set the cooker lid back on the cooker. Place the flask on the bottom towel and under the top towel so that the flask is completely covered. Rinse your gloves in the wash pan, and remove one of the seed bottles and place it under the towel next to the flask. Working under the towel, remove the aluminum foil cover and the rubber stopper from the flask, taking care to keep the stopper under the top towel. Give the seed bottle a shake and quickly remove the cap. Pour the seed and disinfectant into the flask and replace the rubber stopper. Leave the flask under the towel and wait 1 to 2 minutes. Still working under the towel, tilt the flask slowly on its side at the same time withdrawing the stopper sufficiently to allow the disinfecting solution to be poured from the flask. If you tilt the flask with a gentle movement, most of the seed will remain on the surface of the agar. Reseat the stopper and remove the flask from under the towel. Set the flask aside, remove the second flask from the pressure cooker and place it under the towel. Rinse your gloves in the wash pan and repeat the seed sowing process until all of the flasks have been sown. Don't forget to have a system to label each flask either before or after they are sown. When all of the flasks have been sown, place one drop of copper sulfate solution on the cotton in the rubber stopper and one drop in the crack between the neck of the flask and the rubber stopper. Cover the stopper and the top of the flask with a fresh aluminum foil square and place the flask in a warm and bright location, but not direct sunlight. The final step is the hardest part of the procedure, waiting for the first signs of germination. By following this simplified seed sowing procedure, even those without previous experience can achieve good results. If this is your first attempt at seed sowing, it would be a good idea to make a dry run using just the empty equipment before you try it with seed. Each operation is a critical so don't alter the procedure before giving any modification careful consideration. In addition remember that this is an alternate procedure, the preferred procedure remains removal of all disinfecting solution by filtration followed by several water rinses before the seed is added to the flask. It is hoped that you will be encouraged to try sowing your own seed. From my own experience, I believe that there are few events in life that are more satisfying. Join me in watching your own seed turn green and grow into viable plants.