Seed life

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My wife is the daughter of a depression baby, and has a sometimes bad habit of keeping things she should throw away.
We planted some Bush contender string beans last year, nice germination time, and great growers and producers right into frost.
We had seeds left over, which she kept in a plastic ziploc in the garden shed, temps sometimes very hot, and then through a freezing winter.
This year, it seems they to be taking a long time to germinate. Is there a good estimate of how long seeds are good for? I would say to buy just enough for what you need each year, but perhaps you find a strain that you really like, and don't know if they will carry that at the seed store next year.
And tips on storage from season to season would be appreciated.
Thanks.
Steve
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SteveB wrote:

407 days, 15 hours, and 12 seconds... +/- 2 seconds.
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On Monday, May 26, 2014 9:30:48 PM UTC-7, SteveB wrote:

NOT in garden shed, subject to temperature swings!!!
In refrigerator or freezer. Double plastic bags VERY tightly sealed to protect against moisture. Point opening of outside bag to bottom of inside bag.
How long since beans planted, compared with last year germination time? Weather conditions comparable? Warmth of ground matters.
How long is it taking for seeds of OTHER plants **with comparable germination times?**
If any seeds left above ground, try the old gimmick of spreading them between paper towels kept continually most. Should find out within +- a week if viable.
Good luck.
PS - Not to get into your domestic scene, but -- with respect - WHO decides what "should" be thrown away is a risky call...
HB
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On 5/26/2014 11:30 PM, SteveB wrote:

Germination rate drops even with chilling, sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. My wife has a habit of leaving the container of seeds on the kitchen table for a few days if I don't watch her. Your Contenders may or may not, in my opinion NOT, germinate.
I've been growing the same strain of crowder peas for twenty years, each year I let a few pods stay on the vine to ripen fully, shuck them and put them into a paper envelope and keep them until the following year. These are heirloom seeds so are okay, some of the specialty seeds may revert to one or more of the original parents.
George
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On 5/26/2014 11:30 PM, SteveB wrote:

Seed companies just keep their bulk seed in the warehouse/bulk storage facilities, where it stays dry and safe from wide temperature swings. The following year they'll perform germination testing and if necessary add fresher seeds to bring the germination rate up to what is stated on their package labeling. All seed companies do this, which is why the label says, "Packed for <calendar year>", instead of "grown for" or "harvested in" <calendar year>.
For home gardeners dealing with small amounts, the seed company I worked for suggested storing the left-over seed packets in clean, dry glass jars indoors to ensure the seeds were kept dry.
Properly stored - i.e. kept dry and safe from temperature swings - most vegetable seeds will retain most of their germinating ability for at least a couple more years.
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On 28/05/2014 12:23 AM, Moe DeLoughan wrote:

Whew! Sounds like I'm doing the right thing. I store my seeds in my large walk in pantry in the middle of the house where the temperature stays not too hot and not too cool. I store my saved seeds in recycled glass pill bottles or, for purchased seed, in the original packets in metal boxes.

And some gardeners prefer older seeds too - pumpkin is one seed that I've been told a few times does better if the seed is older rather than fresh.
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On 5/28/2014 1:42 AM, Fran Farmer wrote:

The owner of the seed company I worked for told me that was true of tomato seeds, too. Though I did the germination testing for the company, I can't say if that was really true, because I never saved a specific sample for long-term testing. We just tested what was held over every year and adjusted with fresh seed as necessary.
Oh - and when a customer complained about poor germination, we'd ask for a sample of the seed (assuming there was any left) and tested that, too. Invariably, it met specs, meaning the poor germination was due to environmental conditions, not that it was non-viable seed. Ironically, the fad now is for 'organic' seeds, most usually meaning seed that isn't treated with a fungicide to reduce the risk of decaying before it sprouts. If you want untreated seed, fine, but if the weather doesn't cooperate it will have a greater chance of rotting rather than sprouting.
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On 05/28/2014 05:25 AM, Moe DeLoughan wrote:

Hi Moe,
Not to ask too basic a question, but do seeds need to "breath"? (Do they need a source of air?)
And, do you have to be careful not the "Freeze" them (water in the seed crystallizing)?

I try to do all organic (I am Paleo/diabetic and their are a lot of allergies in the family). I have always never paid much attention to if my seeds or sprouts are "Organic". I figured that by the time I got around to eating the things that the plants themselves would have processed the chemicals to harmless. Your thoughts?
-T
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On 28/05/2014 10:25 PM, Moe DeLoughan wrote:

That's interesting. I hadn't ever heard that before. I'll tuck it into my memory banks and try it next year with some older seed.
Though I did the germination testing for the company,

Thankfully, seeds in my part of Australia are more in danger of failing to sprout due to dry conditions rather than rotting.
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On Tuesday, May 27, 2014 11:42:40 PM UTC-7, Fran Farmer wrote:

That sounds wildly counter-intuitive. Did your interlocutors say why?
HB
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On 29/05/2014 2:28 PM, Higgs Boson wrote:

No.
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SteveB wrote:

No. You will find several tables of viability of seeds available on the web. The problem is that the time is very dependent on species (from a few months to tens of year), the conditions they are stored under and how you define viability.
On the last point seeds do not all cease to germinate at a given interval after harvest. You might get 95% after a year, 70% after two and 30% after three, and so on until you eventually reach zero. If you are growing commercially or only have 5 seeds, 30% might be quite unacceptable, if you have lots of seed and you are prepared to wait and plant out those that germinate it might be fine.

Cool and dry. Not in the shed!
David
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No, there is no respiration going on in a seed.

Freezing seeds enhances their storage time.

I can't see how anyone can be "Paleo/diabetic". The first part is the weird idea that eating like a caveman is good for you. The second part is a disease.

"Organic" means pay more for stuff.
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Dan Espen

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On 05/28/2014 12:27 PM, Dan.Espen wrote:

Hi Dan,
Paleo keeps you from getting T2 Diabetes. It also helps you heal from it.
Also, T2 Diabetes is not a "disease". It is an "injury" (carbohydrate poisoning) and it is self inflicted. I speak from experience.
Here is a great web site, if you want to follow up on Diabetes from a Paleo perspective:
http://www.diabetes-warrior.net/ http://www.diabetes-warrior.net/about-me-and-diabetes/
-T
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On 05/28/2014 12:27 PM, Dan.Espen wrote:

Hi Dan,
Thank you!
-T
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Todd wrote:

Until they start to germinate the amount of oxygen they need is miniscule, for practical purposes zero, so they will be quite happy in a sealed container for a long time. I imagine this is dependent on temperature to some degree. Note that if you do want them to germinate properly they do need air as their metabolism starts up and they converts stored starches and oils into new plant tissue, inhaling oxygen and exhaling CO2.

Apparently freezing is OK. The seed vault at Svalbard is kept at -18C (about 0 F) with seeds in sealed packets. I wouldn't be repeatedly freezing and thawing them however, as might happen in an outbuilding in a cold climate. For most purposes cool dry conditions will suffice. The more important part is the dry.
D
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On 05/28/2014 05:44 PM, David Hare-Scott wrote:

Hi David,
Great explanation! Thank you!
I know my Hollyhock seeds need sunlight to germinate too, so keep seeds dark too, I presume.
-T
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Higgs Boson said:

are more likely to skip the first flush of male flowers and get right to producing female flowers. Most particularly this seems to be true of the C. pepo types (zuchinni, summer squash, delicata, acorn).
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Pat in Plymouth MI

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On 05/29/2014 05:46 AM, Pat Kiewicz wrote:

I had a year when my zukes only produced dude flowers. Never figured out why. Very frustrating.
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On Thursday, May 29, 2014 10:32:02 AM UTC-7, Todd wrote:

You never heard of gay zuke liberation??!!
HB
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