Seeds, out with the old..

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by katydidagain, Sep 4, 2004.

  1. katydidagain

    katydidagain Adventuress--Definition 2 Supporter

    Jun 11, 2004
    NE FL until the winds blow
    and in with the new.

    Stop laughing, Martin! I confess I'm a seed hoarder; I've got packets from 1994 and may have a few from 1987! :waa: It's time to shed the dead stuff but how do you establish their via/saveablity? Simple tests would be greatly appreciated.

  2. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

    Aug 4, 2003
    Zone Unknown
    This year, I decided I'd had it up to here with carting around all those seeds hither and yon.


    So out of the half-torn-down goat barn (nowadays usually inhabited by the neighbor's horses who seem to love that barn, even though it's much too small for them), I drug an old metal barrel that the guy who used to live here used his welding torch on. Let me tell you, this entire place is an example of the dangers of allowing men with too much time on their hands to have a welding torch. :no: Witness: the odd and indestructible iron building which served no useful purpose until I turned it into a composting/potting shed attached to raised bed and grape arbor with patio (although pretty quick it's going to become a chicken coop).

    In any case, I drug out that metal barrel which had been mutilated by the guy with a welding torch and too much time on his hands :no: and --- much to the complete dismay of my cowboy neighbors --- I turned it into a planter.


    Into which I threw about half of my ancient seeds. Out of which i got lots of nasturtiums, still more sage, lots of different colors of morning glories and some cardinal flowers, some pitiful basil :no: and some things I haven't yet identified.

    Soooo ... I suggest you do the same. :)

  3. anniew

    anniew keep it simple and honest Supporter

    Dec 11, 2002
    NE PA
    Do the paper towel test.
    Take a paper towel and fold it in half.
    Take 10 seeds of one packet and lay the seeds in the fold.
    From the sides roll up the paper towel.
    Place the rolled up towel in a glass, with the fold with the seeds
    down in the glass.
    Add some water so that the paper towel is thoroughy damp.
    Check the towel daily and if drying out add a little more water to
    moisten it.
    About the third day, gently unroll the towel and see if any seeds
    have germinated. Check each day thereafter. After one or two seeds
    have germinated, keep the towel moist and check each day
    thereafter. After about a week from the first germinations, count
    the total number that has germinated.
    This will give you the percentage of seed that is still viable.
    If one germinates, it is 10 percent. If 7 it is 70 percent, etc.
    If less that 5, I'd say throw out the seed, or seed twice as heavy
    as normal, but it'd probably be better to get new seed.
    If you do more than one type of seed at a time, each variety in it's own paper towel,
    be SURE to label each so you'll know what was good and what wasn't.
    Good luck.
  4. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

    May 9, 2002
    South Central Wisconsin
    Katy, what's wrong with hoarding seed? Isn't that called being frugal? Of course, there are some varieties with very short shelf lives. Onions and leeks may as well be tossed after 3 years although it's down to perhaps 50% or less by then. Don't even think of getting anything from salsify after 2 years as that is a terribly weak seed despite the large size. Carrots should give you acceptable germination rate to 5 years. I've got a list here somewhere of how long vegetable seeds can be expected to remain viable with simple precautions.

    Tomatoes are a different story. Commercial seed growers only grow out a certain variety about every 5th year. They lay in a supply to last that long. This year, I grew out some Bradley which I purchased in England in 1990. Not 100% germination but enough so that I'll be able to supply a lot of others with that seed. One project tonight was to attempt to locate some Wisconsin 55 seed which is at least from 1991. Couldn't find them this spring but finally was successful tonight. I want to make certain that the present strain is still the same as the old one. All I need is for one seed to germinate as that will produce thousands in return.

    However, even I don't always have great results. There was a nice paste type tomato that I wanted to trial this year. Zero germination but that was 1982 seed from Czechoslovakia. Can't win them all!

  5. diane

    diane Well-Known Member

    May 4, 2002
    South Central Michigan
    Like Martin said, stored properly, seed can last for a very long time. It has been said that some wheat that was found in the old tombs of Egypt were still viable. We had some open pollinated corn that we had squirreled away and forgot about and after 12 years I still got 90% germination (9 out of 10 on the paper towel test) I would add most of the slaw products to a limited shelf life, but onions and leeks seem to lose germination rates the fastest for us.
  6. breezynosacek

    breezynosacek Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2003
    Oh, I love it! I love it! I love it!

    Makes me want to change my mind about ever buying hubby a blow/welding/cutting torch for Christmas! :eek:
  7. john#4

    john#4 Well-Known Member

    Mar 10, 2003
    I used to save my own seed, I’m not gardening anymore I don’t have a place. I don’t know if this will work on the seed you have now, but any new seed you have leftover, reseal and in a glass contender and freeze.
    I have had great luck with seed over 15 years old. You will extend the life of the seed by 3-4 times.
    Just remember to take the glass jar out to defrost about 12 hours before opening it.