Old Seeds

Page 2 of 2  
Most appropo, this past Saturday hubby and I cleaned out a part of our garage that had sat untouched since we moved in 1998. (We use the garage for storage, not cars)
In among things that I had been trying to find since 1998 [g], was a box of gardening stuff. Mostly old pots, but tucked into one of the pots was the cache of seed packets that used to be in my kitchen cabinet in my old apartment. Some of these had "packed for" dates going back to 1984. Most were in the late 1980's to 1996. Supposing I had nothing to lose, I took some recycled 4-cells, filled them with starter mix and planted some vintage 1984 pansies, 1992 lettuce, 1994 New Yorker tomatoes, and other odds and ends. I sprinkled more seeds than I would normally use, since I was sure I probably would not get much germination.
I check them this morning, and the pansies and the lettuce have begun to germinate. Nothing else so far, but, honestly, I didn't expect ANYTHING. All the starter paks were pretty wet, since they were outside in the rain, and the weather has also been cool. And FWIW, the new cucumbers and snapdragons I planted at the same time haven't done anything yet.
When it comes to seeds, stuff that is usually high in germination and easy to start, I will use until the packet is gone. Stuff that is hard to germinate, I will toss and replace after two seasons or less. Obviously, twenty-year-old seeds are not my norm for my gardening habits, but I do have to laugh at the unexpected surprise. That, and clean out the garage more often....[g]
-=>epm<=-
In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same. - Albert Einstein
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Speaking from experience: so long as they have been kept dry, and haven't collected any of the nasty little borers that eat their innards, most seeds keep at least a couple years, and some keep for 10 years or more. I once saw a chart that indicated there is an average 10-20% die-off rate per year of storage for most veggie seeds, but if you're concerned, just plant a few extras to make up for what don't germinate.
I've had gazinnia and marigold seeds that were a good 10 to 12 years old achieve 100% germination. I don't think we ever had this-year's seed in my grandmother's garden -- she'd buy last-year's discounted seeds, and as I recall (being the head garden labourer at the time :) the germination rate was indeed about 80%.
~REZ~
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wed, 02 Jun 2004 02:10:39 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net (Rez) wrote:

_Such_ an interesting thread, thank you! I could have sworn I saw a program on the television documentary re Egypt re the seeds, that is what is so odd. I'm sure that even if things germinated, there wouldn't have been an extremely high success rate, but it always fascinated me. I'll have to look into this further, as it's something that has been with me for so long and I always believed it to be true, that now I want to know for sure.
But also really neat thread re germinating. The garage experiment sounds neat, too! Hope that the seeds come up nice!
p.s., I'm also concerned about one thing. _If_ older seeds from a long time ago do germinate now yet new seeds don't, one has to wonder about modern growing practices, too! Mustn't forget that our ancestors did things the right way - more in accordance with nature's laws, esp. before the industrial revolution! They may not have had the "science" of this, as we supposedly do, but they had no choice. They grew organically, etc. <g>
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Well, so far, the zinnias, pansies and one or two tomatoes have germinated. I don't know what the percentage is, just that some of it did. Nothing on the marigolds, impatiens, basil or the rest, but they usually take a few more days anyway. Given that my first impulse was to toss them all out, I'm ahead of things I think!
-=>epm<=-
In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same. - Albert Einstein
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@aol.com.no.junk (EvelynMcH) wrote:

I posted about this before, but if I repeat myself, very well, I repeat myself :)
I'd saved a bunch of seeds from a special gazinnia, but it was over 10 years before I had a place to plant them. And from the first attempt -- NONE came up. So the next year, figuring they were mostly dead, I planted all the rest -- and HUNDREDS came up (far as I could tell, 100%).
I've had something similar happen with my long-stored marigold seeds -- one year I got hardly any coming up; the next year, from the same seed stash, I got a bloody forest of marigolds.
So now I don't despair; sometimes stuff just doesn't sprout, but that doesn't *necessarily* mean the seed is dead.
~REZ~
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Oh, you mean about sprouting wheat that was found in Egyptian monuments? I don't know how legit that claim was, but I'd expect dry wheat kernels to keep for a couple decades under ordinary conditions.

Seeds found in an Egyptian pyramid, sealed inside some artifact, would have the benefit of being kept absolutely dry and free of destructive organisms (mold, borer beetles, etc.) Modern grain, kept under similar conditions, should have an equally long live-storage time. But most of us don't live in a desert and store seeds in airtight containers. :)

Well, our ancestors also did a lot of stupid destructive things, like slash and burn agriculture, and farming out the land then moving on to somewhere that hadn't been sucked dry of nutrients, and letting sheep and goats destroy pasture and thus soil (the middle east wasn't a desert until a couple thousand years ago, you know -- it got that way from wandering tribes and their goats. Same with central Wyoming, which looked a lot better before being overgrazed by sheep.) Modern farming is actually a lot kinder to the soil, if only because in most farming countries, there is no longer any new land to exploit, so you've got to keep what you have productive, and that means not overfarming it down to dust.
Re pasture: cattle cut the grass off fairly high, leaving a good growthy portion. Sheep graze it right down to the ground, stressing it all to hell. Goats pull it up roots and all. Once you destroy the ground cover that way, erosion sets in, and in a matter of a decade or less, a green lush pastureland with good soil can be converted to stony desert.
~REZ~
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
In article
snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net says...

Well, the goats helped, but there was a little thing about a climate change that did most of the damage :-).
--
Where ARE those Iraqi WMDs?

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

True, but there is also some thought that the climate change was exacerbated or possibly even triggered by the goat damage. Deserts tend to creep, once they get started.
I've seen a wind pattern completely changed by urban growth -- back when Santa Clarita was small, you could set your watch by the ocean wind that cleared out the hot air, every afternoon at 2.30pm. As the city grew and filled the narrow valley, adding lawns and other sources of humidity (thus "heavy air"), the afternoon wind got weaker and weaker, and now no longer does clears out the valley at all (barring storm conditions). So instead of cooling off every afternoon, it now stays still and hot til sundown.
~REZ~
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

Stories of wheat sprouting from seeds found in ancient Egyptian tombs seems to be mostly apocryphal, 'though there is good evidence for a few sprouting seeds of 100 to possibly 1000 years old.
http://www.kew.org/msbp/msbfaq/msb_a12.html

And the average lifespan was 47 years. :-)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Not genetically, no. We have a biological/genetic lifespan of about 120 years, roughly. That hasn't changed over time. (We still have same genetic makeup now as we did millenia ago.) Unlike the whole grains in the tomb thing, which I only saw that program about that one time, this has been documented around the world to one degree or another. Those who practice healthier lifestyles have shown this, too. Also, 2 pockets of people are known - the Vilcabambians and the Abkhazians though I don't know if their lifestyles have been corrupted unduly in very recent times.
I know that this is going to throw a whole monkey wrench into this discussion and, for all I know, an uproar <sigh> but I had to mention it as we have the idea that how we live now and the length of that life is normal. And the shorter lifespan of those living in recent history is always thrown out. I'm glad to say that that's not a normal lifespan either.
Incidences of longevity are not abnormal, they are the norm IF we don't live unnaturally beyond a certain point. Which just goes to show ... also, there's no question that sanitation and medical practices do have an impact, which considering we generally eat worse than our ancestors did (when did they ever eat boxes of chemically-laden foods?), probably can account for a lot of the difference in lifespan.
And as for the other re farming/grazing practices, I can't believe that agribusinesses with their chemicals and unhealthy practices are not worse than all those shepherds and sheep and cows, etc., etc. But I guess I can say anything and someone will always come back with an answer like that. All I personally know is, of course, what I've experienced. Though I'm sure someone will argue with what I'm about to say, I know what I have found ... My parents now live in Mexico and they moved there in the 70s, so this isn't something recent. Whenever I travel to visit them and eat the food there, I find it much more flavourful than what we get here. To get the quality of the fruits and vegetables I see at any ordinary restaurant there, I have to eat at an expensive organic vegetarian restaurant here to get the same types of exploding flavours! And I'm not talking about food preparation, just the inherent flavour of the fruits/vegetables.
Though I'm sure Mexico is learning from us and their methods are changing, every single time I visit, I find that this is still the case in ordinary restaurant food or that prepared in homes of my family.
Anyway, thanks everyone for taking the time to respond. I appreciate it.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@nowhere.com writes:

This had little, if anything, to do with what they ate or the way it was grown. Sorry. They would have surely lived much longer if good health care were available.
Figured into those statistics are such things as three of great grandparents: One grandmother died a few days after childbirth of blood poisoning from the tear caused by the birth; the baby also died because of lack of knowledgeable care and lack of proper nutrition. One grandmother died a few days after childbirth because of weakness from the flu she had at the time of childbirth; the baby also died shortly thereafter. They were both victims of a flu epidemic that claimed many hundreds of other lives that same season.
These for people, two women in their twenties and two infants are part of the statistics that make up that average of 47 years, or whatever other average at which researchers might arise.
Added to that is my great-grandfather who died of pneumonia as a result of being kicked by a mule and laying unconscious in the field behind his plow until after dark when he was missed and found.
Those five people, whose stories I know for fact, are part of the "average life span" figured in that type of statistic. Their early deaths had absolutely nothing to do with anything except proper health care, or rather lack of it. With proper health care, all five might well have lived well into their eighties or nineties . . . and they all ate organically grown food! There are several in the same bloodline that have lived to be past one hundred; however, they didn't get figured into those statistics because their age at the time of surveys was used, not their life span.
It doesn't matter how you cut it, food grown without commercially prepared chemicals is going to be better for the human body (an organic creation) than chemically altered food. Few people dispute research that demonstrates over-cooked food is not as healthy as properly prepared food or that vitamins ingested through diet are better than those in a pill. Even the drug companies admitted that with the caveat that "if you don't get it in your diet, take our vitamin pill."
As for over-grazing, there is no question it can cause a problem. However, that land that is over-grazed is soon abandoned for nature to have her way with it; we humans are, after all, opportunists. The comment made about Wyoming should be supported by more, and credible, research rather than a supposition. The truth is that there have been many barren places on this planet that were once lush greenways long before humankind and its practices. Prairies and deserts existed before people. Climate change has more to do with that sort of thing than does anything else. Sadly, what we have in our day and age is that what humans are doing is affecting some of the climate changes that take place.
Artificially produced chemicals are not the best thing going, regardless of what they might do or not do. I can use ladybugs, etc., and birds for pest control. I can use horse or steer manure and compost for fertilizer. I can use a pair of gloves and some bending for weed control. Why would I need chemicals in my own garden? The answer is that I don't. The less one does to upset the natural order of things, the better for our planet and our own health. We can do lots of natural things to keep things on track.
The owners of Millennium Farms say, "Chemicals, never have, never will." If they can operate their greenhouses and farm with no chemicals, we ought to be able to do it with our gardens. We just need to pay more attention and not use the throwaway attitude that so many of us in the U.S.A. have created and practice. Sadly, we are all guilty of it to some degree, some just more of others. I've often thought without a remote for a television (or maybe even a television), we'd all be better off, maybe we'd have better learned to do things differently.
Glenna stepping off soapbox for now
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

{Clapping hands for a great comment}
In the middle of landscaper-chemicaled suburbia, I get funny comments from some of my neighbors all the time because I use a push mower to cut the grass, grass shears to trim it, and the Edward Scissorhands hedge clippers to tend the bushes.
I kill weeds in the lawn by pulling them up, or pouring boiling water on them. I don't want kids or dogs walking through chemicals instead of green grass.
I compost or use as ground cover as much as I can. I rake leaves by hand, and pile most of them behind the bushes in the front of the house, where, by spring, they are reduced enough I can use them as mulch in my garden. I use all the flowers from our Magnolia tree the same way.
We own an electric weedwacker, and I will confess to using it maybe once a month during the growing season because I just can't get some of the edges otherwise. We owe both a gas and an electric lawnmower, but neither have been used at all since I bought the reel mower.
I do not spray for insects. I sometimes use soap, and I use coffee grounds to keep the slugs off the strawberries, and marigolds to keep the cutworms and whatever else from the tomatoes. That's all.
I think about the butterflies and the bees when I get tempted to spray in my yard.
My kids used to get annoyed with me because I refuse to by them those little boxes of juice drinks, and buy as little as possible that is not recyclable. I've now got them looking at containers and pre-wrapped snacks and so on. Hopefully the lesson will rub off.
One brownie point for me - the guy next door is an excellent small engine mechanic. He's got a constant parade of lawnmowers and the ilk being dropped off by people that know him because they no longer work and they don't want to just toss them out. He fixes them and passes them on, and saves the best for himself. Until a few weeks ago, anyway. One of his co-workers had an ancient reel mower that they were throwing out. He asked for it, got it, and just had it sharpened. Seems he likes my idea of not having to lug around gas cans and getting a little exercise....
-=>epm<=-
In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same. - Albert Einstein
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@aol.com.no.junk (EvelynMcH) wrote:

Sounds like me and computers... I take in homeless computers, and transplant the better body parts into my own machines :)
~REZ~
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Yep. Us too. Make better stuff out of one from the dead bodies to donate elsewhere, or scavage for the kids. (One of my friends has a day care center and she can always use more machines able to run at least Win 95 - and what she can't use, she knows someone who can.)
-=>epm<=-
In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same. - Albert Einstein
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@aol.com.no.junk says...

As a retiree, I'm always looking for bargains. I found an ATX motherboard with a 300mhz Celeron in it for a buck at a garage sale. Seller says he upgraded and the board worked when last used. Now all I have to do is find some memory and an ATX case and I can get rid of my 200mhz Pentium :-).
--
Where ARE those Iraqi WMDs?

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sat, 05 Jun 2004 12:08:32 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@pmug.org (Glenna Rose) wrote:

Did you notice the smiley, Glenna? I was commenting on the illogic of 'old seeds' benefitting from old agricultural practices. Of *course* there are many reasons for our modern (average) lifespans. Just as there are many reasons why last year's parsnip seeds are unproductive while a 500-yr-old melon seed germinates.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I typically let a few parsnip go to seed every six or seven years, and, while I sow seed generously, I always get excellent yields even with seven year old seed. I don't understand why so many people say that parsnip seed lasts less than 1 year. I store the seed in a lidded cardboard can containers in the basement.
Rick
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@nowhere.com writes:

Geez, I didn't. My only excuse is being so tired from all the yard work.
Glenna <blushing>
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.