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Sowing old seed

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Last weekend I sowed all the old seeds I had of broccoli, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, collards and beets.

To my delight some of them have already sprouted!

So, if you are wondering whether or not your old seed will grow, give them a try - you never know...

Now I have to figure out where I'm going to transplant all those seedlings to.

Büllingen, Belgium(Zone 6b)

How old are the seeds and where did you store them?
Jonna

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Some where dated 2007 and some were dated 2008. They were stored in their originaly packages - most of those packages were opened, some were not. They have been hanging around with no special attention.

The packages that were opened - I had planted seeds from them during the year the package was dated - so none of opened packages were full.

Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

I store my seed packs in a zip lock or a jar with a lid. This lets them avoid getting dried out by the heat or A/C in the house. Some people keep theirs in the refrigerator in an airtight container because some seeds benefit from the cold treatment that mimics the winter. Most will stay viable for years if you control moisture and heat.

Lakeland, FL(Zone 9b)

some seeds are good for years depends what kind ----- Paul

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

I sowed some flower seeds I've had for about 10 years and some germinated, so you just never know.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

HoneybeeNC,
So your cole crop seeds are up already! I have all new fresh seeds and planned to sow this weekend, but we FINALLY got a hard rain today.

Did you direct sow in the ground or in containers, or did you start 'em inside under lights?

Linda

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Gymgirl - I sowed them in shallow rows, and covered them with a lightweight row cover. Hubby has been watering them three times a day to be sure they don't dry out. I checked them again this weekend and they look strong and healthy.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

On March 20th I sowed some 2009 seeds of melons and herbs. One package of Sweet Marjoram was even a 2008. I'm happy to say the seeds are sprouting.

So don't be afraid to sow "old seed"

Incidentally, I store the seeds in their original packages in a cardboard box on the counter. Nothing special - just make sure they stay dry.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

I plan on saving my seeds in old pill bottles. Does anyone foresee a problem doing this? We have LOTS of pill bottles (the brown pharmacy bottles)...

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Gymgirl - I have often thought of doing this, but am not so well organized. I'd have to put the seeds in the bottles, and label them.

Folding over the edge of the seed package and fastening with a paper clip is sooo much faster (giggle)

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9a)

Linda, I know people who store seeds that way. Just keep them cool and out of direct sunlight as the plastic will get hot and sweat... Oh, and make sure your seeds are dry dry dry before placing in said plastic bottle...

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks, Kell!

Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

My house gets dry when I'm using heat or a/c so I store the packages in wide mouth jars and coffee cans, with lids. I have lots of seeds so I try to organize them. Peppers, herbs and flowers. Tomatoes. Squash, cukes, melons. Legumes. Cole crops.

Christiansted, VI(Zone 11)

Easy label: Write on masking tape with a marker, before you pull the bit of tape off the roll.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Girl,
You are just too full of great ideas! You need to spend time compiling them into a book!

Sierra Foothills, CA(Zone 8a)

The Homestead tomato seeds that my mother had before she passed away, had the date of 1987. I just transplanted them into 2 6-packs. She did not store them in any special way, just at room temperature.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Every year I sow seeds that are 5-6 years old I get the same germination rate I never thought of them as old.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

1lisac - are these seeds you have saved from your own vegetables?

Central Valley, CA(Zone 9a)

Quote from HoneybeeNC :
On March 20th I sowed some 2009 seeds of melons and herbs. One package of Sweet Marjoram was even a 2008. I'm happy to say the seeds are sprouting.

So don't be afraid to sow "old seed"

Incidentally, I store the seeds in their original packages in a cardboard box on the counter. Nothing special - just make sure they stay dry.


1-2 years is not old for melons, cucumbers, gourds and squash or most other seeds. They will stay viable for several years even in less than perfect conditions. Planted some that were 6 years old once. They sprouted and grew like it was their first year. I believe that cucumberaes are one of those types of seeds that have better germination in the second and third years.

Seeds are designed to stay in the soil for a few years until the conditions are right to sprout. That is why whenever you till in the Spring things are sprouting all over. They had been waiting for light, water and air to get them going. Soil conditions can vary widely from cold to hot, wet to dry with tons of microbes. If seeds can survive this, then a container in the house is fine.

Holding seed over for the next year doesn't make a bit of difference. Do this all the time with no problem.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

HB-Sorry I didn't post sooner. For the most part these are seeds I bought a few are from my garden. To be honest I don't have the patience to save my own seeds.
Lisa

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

1lisac - I don't have the patience to save seeds, either. I do hold over garlic - I found one in the supermarket that I really liked. It has a hot garlicky taste!

Sierra Foothills, CA(Zone 8a)

My old seeds were in various storage areas that my DH moved around, unbeknownst to me...maybe he was afraid I might find them Well his nightmare has come true, as I asked him where he put them, and then found other places where they were as well...as you see, I am not so organized and sometimes he takes over and puts things where I don't know where they are...

Well, all that has changed, well about the seeds anyway. It took a while to organize them and I will be re-organizing them again as well. First into categories...WS - hardy annuals, tender annuals, perennials, biennials, seeds that need stratification....etc., and then alphabetically in their categories, according mainly for sowing dates... As you can surmise, I have been collecting quite a bit of seeds over the past few years, as every year I think I will get started on them and then something happens...I have had several operations which for a while, has even prevented me from living in our home. Now all that has changed, and am now working in the garden, trying to get the weeds out, and add soil amendments to our wonderful hard, clay soil. And getting all the seeds going. Well, I found out...it is impossible for me to start all og them this year...but I have started a garden calendar with proposed sowing dates, found from many different websites...that were very helpful. I never realized how complicated this "hobby" would be. And then, of course, DG as well.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Evelyn - it's nice to hear that you are back on your feet and into your garden. My hubby "tidies-up" too! Unfortunately, he doesn't remember where he puts things, so I end up buying more of what we already have. The only time things come to light, is when we move.

Charlotte, VT

Wow, I've got some old seed that I'm going to plant now. With my son in college I can cut my garden size by about a half and don't need to use so much seed. He's a tall and hungry guy. I have heard that parsnip loses its ability to germinate very quickly. Anyone with experience with year old parsnip seed?

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Helen, I did not know that about parsnip seed - which could explain why my "old seed" did not sprout last fall!

Sierra Foothills, CA(Zone 8a)

I am planting a Homestead tomato, from a seed packet from 1987...I don't think I sowed very many, and for sure Idid not get many, but will count my seeds next time to let you knw the germination rate.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

About a week ago I gathered all my old pea seeds, mixed them together and sowed them in a single 24ft row. Not expecting many to grow, I'm surprised to see that many of them have sprouted!

I think I'll do the same with my old bean seeds in a couple of weeks when the weather settles.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

When I started some new seeds a week ago, I also started some basil and chive seeds from 2007. I'm surprised to see a few of those old seeds actually have sprouted. They were not stored well, just in a box in the house.

I also put a few heirloom Kentucky Wonder bean seeds from a 2007 pack in a damp paper towel to check for germination. It has taken a few days but so far 11 out of 14 have sprouted. I now plan to start the rest of the pack in a few days, still a little early to set out beans here.

Sierra Foothills, CA(Zone 8a)

I think from 2010 I had one or two Homestead that made it. Still pretty good for old seed. I had not yet learned how to dry the tomato seeds properly. I will have to practice again this year, but I do have enough seeds for a while, anyway.

I did germinate some old sweet pea seeds planted in November. Some were from 2003, and I think some from 2006. I did not think they would come up so I did not make detailed labels with sowing dates and dates on pkg...20/20 hindsight! ^_^

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

I haven't has as much success with saving tomato seeds either. I think I must be letting them ferment too long. I haven't had enough ddecent tomato crops in the last 2 years to save any seeds.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I live in a fairly humid climate, so I keep my seeds in small Zip-locks inside a series of plastic jars with screw-lids (they used to hold 2 pounds of peanuts.)

To keep them dry, I give eqach jar one coin envelope with 1-2 tablespoons of silica gel in it. That can be dried in the oven and re-used.

I worry about prolonged storage "too dry", but according to humidity cards I have, the RH inside hovers around 10% when the silica gel is fresh, and 10-20% after a few openings.

I hope that the Ziplocks and the paper labels inside them "buffer" the humidity that the seeds experience, so they don;t dry out so much that they die.

Thumbnail by RickCorey_WA
Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

I have tons of seeds from 06-07. I never considered that old. I just sow them until the package is gone. I do soak them but I never even thought about them being too old.

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