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I have some plants (cilantro, lettuce) that have already gone to seed. Am I able to plant these seeds immediately or would I need to wait until next season? My question is not about the length of the growing season, but more about the "seed dormancy" period. Is there a good general resource that would help me answer this question for other plants as well?

Update: I have five healthy looking lettuce plants and one cilantro growing! I would still like to find some more info on seed dormancy, but for at least these two plants, the answer seems to be that you can plant immediately.

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Note: often harvesting and seeding is not done in the same periods, also on nature. We harvest early, and seeds are not quickly planted. Usually they stay much time in the flower, than they fall, but not yet planted. Insects and other animals could still move them. After heavy rain (and eventually snow) they will put inside dirt.

I would not recommend it. They will have some dormancy (maybe waiting freezing), but in such period you will have weeds, and possibly they will start growing irregularly (which possibly is a good thing for lettuce).

I would wait until they will have good weather to germinate, so that you can remove weeds without moving the seeds. It is just for practical reasons.

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It's difficult to say with certainty for every kind of vegetable seed (they're not all identical). However, I can say with surety that domestic tomatoes don't have a dormancy period (at least the variety I tried this with). You can plant them right away, without even drying them (but I recommend doing something to lessen the likelihood of disease first, such as fermenting them). Whether or not they germinate may depend on your temperatures, though. If it's 95° F. or above, they may be less likely to germinate, I've read (and I believe I've experienced that). I would be concerned if you have warm nights and hot days, too, or if it's a constant warm temperature indoors (without a drop at night).

I know from experience that some tomato seeds seem to require more heat (and/or different soil) to sprout than others. My Pervaya Lyubov tomato seeds seemed to be that way (while about 100 other varieties sprouted just fine in significantly cooler weather in an unheated greenhouse in April in worm castings with a little peat moss; the pervaya Lyubov seeds that sprouted were in regular garden soil outdoors when it was between 90° F. and 93° F. outside).

I don't believe I've ever heard of common vegetables needing a dormancy period before planting (but that doesn't mean some won't require one). It mostly seems to be certain cold-hardy perennials that require one (e.g. fruit trees, strawberries, etc.)

I think it may depend on the seed as much as the species and variety, though. I've planted lettuce seeds that took a year or two to sprout, while most sprouted right away. Those were just from a store packet, but it seems at least a seed from each of the two packets of lettuce variety seeds needed a cold period or two.

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