Is there any way to tell?

Louisville, IL(Zone 6a)

I came across some old seeds in a house hubby and I just purchased. I thought I would plant them (hundreds of them) and see if anything happens. Is there any way to tell what kind of variety a vegetable is by seed or after it has grown into a veggie? If there are heirlooms, I would like to try and save the seeds produced, if any of them grow. The packets and jars just say something common, i.e. pumpkins, squash, gourds...

Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)

In some cases there are distinctive visual signs that help identify varieties. But generally speaking, you can't look at the plant and make that determination. Takes a DNA scan to do that.

However, if the seeds were kept loose in jars, I would bet they are OPs that the family saved from year to year.

I would do a germination test before planting any of them, though, to save yourself a lot of work if they are not viable.

To do that, lay out a bunch of seeds on a slightly damp paper towel. Ten will do in a pinch. But if you have enough, 100 is much better. Roll the paper towel, and put it in a ziplock bag. Keep in a warm place.

Start checking after about three days, to see if the seeds have germinated. By the end of two weeks, all that will germinate usually have. Count 'em up and figure the percentage of viable seed.

If the seeds produce veggies, and you like them, then I would continue to grow them. Give them a private name. Maybe the previous owners name, i.e. Jone's Pumpkin. This may not be entirely correct, but you'll always have a referent for growing those particular ones.

Richmond Hill, GA(Zone 8b)

Don't you just love a mystery, Zabrina? Let us know what those seeds grow up to be okay? :)


Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

Can you post pictures of the seeds?
We might be able to give you a few clues just from looking at them.

This sort of thing is exactly what I search for.Most of the time,the seeds are in common use. But,every now and then,you come up with a real unique treasure.

Keep us posted on your progress.

Louisville, IL(Zone 6a)

Thanks so much for your help Brook! You are such a helpful person! I will let ya'll know if the seeds grow and what they turn out to be (if I can tell)haha! I cannot post pictures because I am on the generic internet (webtv). I keep meaning to check into getting a computer but don't want to spend that much money just yet. I want one I won't have to upgrade for a while. I had one but I was told t was only upgradable to 32 MB.
About the seeds, I know some seeds stay viable for years but some of the dates are 1987, 1981, and I think I saw some from the 70's (yikes)!
Anyone think it's worth a germination test?

Definitely worth a germination test!!

Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)

Go for it, Zabrina!

It doesn't cost anything, and takes very little time. Mostly it's just waiting to see what happens.

How about posting a list of the types you found. You mentioned pumpkins, squash, and gourds. What else did you uncover?

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

This looks like a good spot for the New Mexico Cave Bean story.

It seems that some scientists were doing excavations in the caves of New Mexico where ancient tribes of Native Americans lived. They found a clay pot sealed with pitch.(pine tar)

When opened,some bean seeds were found. Carbon dating estimated that they were about 1500 years old. Guess What.....The seeds were viable! their numbers have been increased and now they are available for growing in your garden,if you know where to look.

The moral of this story is..never underestimate what a seed is capable of.

Now ,these seeds were sealed and probably in ideal low humidity,cool conditions,but you should never throw something out just because you think it may be too old.

Incidently,I'm growing the Cave Beans for the first time this season.

Cool story, melody! I've heard another similar story about a Pharoah's tomb...

Be sure to let us know how you like the Cave Beans this year. Sounds like we'll be doing some trading this fall. ;-)


Louisville, IL(Zone 6a)

These were some of the names of the seeds that had labels- pie pumpkin, white long neck squash, b--- b--- beans (couldn't make out the rest of words), some kinda popcorn, lima beans (these were'nt labled), seeds that were rather large and dark blue, very small black seeds, lots of different pumpkin seeds. One seed packet said 'King of the Garden' on it. A bag had some things in it that we call mole beans because they are suppossed to drive moles away, not sure what they really are though. And also some packages with seeds mixed in with mulch stuff. I will give the germination test a try.

Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)

King of the Garden sound like they might be garden peas, Zabrina. Could you describe them for us?

Here's another suggestion. Be sure, for whichever of these you decide to grow out, to keep a quantity aside as a control group. That is, when the plant grows, the seed you gather should look pretty much like what you planted. That's often a indicator (not a final test, you understand) of genetic purity. Keep a sample of your seed, and then make a comparison the second grow-out year. You'll want to compare A. whether or not the plant grows the same the second year, and B. whether the seed looks the same the third year. If all of this works, you'll know for sure that they were OP varieites.

But, frankly, from the saving methods you've described, I'm convinced that they are.

Edgewood, MD(Zone 7a)

The cave bean story was also repeated in Egypt! I believe it was a variety of hard wheat that was found sealed in a tomb where a handful of the wheat kernals were viable when planted. This was a highly nutritious, fast growing , high yield wheat that had been extinct, to the scientist's knowledge, for well over 700 yrears! The variety is now in production all over the world! The name it was given has something to do with Pharoah's wheat, or Pyramid Wheat...something to that effect. That is just mind blowing isn't it? :-)


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