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.
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.
PS - Not to get into your domestic scene, but -- with respect - WHO decides what "should" be thrown away is a risky call...
I have seeds in the refrigerator that have been there ten years or more.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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?
the riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped
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
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.
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:
the riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped
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.
I've noticed that sometimes the plants that grow from my older squash seeds
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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