In the Garden | Put seedlings to the test | Gardening

Have you ever found a pack of seeds lying around and wondered if you could grow them? Find packets or packets you completely forgot to plant. Unfortunately, as seeds age, germination rates decline. Luckily, there are easy ways to test seeds to see if they’re worth planting.

Many seeds will last for years if stored properly. Plants such as basil, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, cosmos, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, nasturtium, oregano, pumpkin, radish, snapdragon, squash, sunflower, tomato, watermelon, and zinnia can actually Long lasting. 4 to 5 years.

Beans, carrots, cockscombs, daisies, peas, poppies, okra and pepper seeds can be stored for about three years. Seeds of asters, cornflowers, fennel, sage, onions, pansies, parsnips and sweet corn last only one to two years.

Seed germination testing is relatively straightforward, requiring only paper towels, a sealable plastic bag or container, water, a permanent marker, and the seeds you wish to test. Dampen a paper towel and spread it flat. Place about 10 (or more) seeds on a paper towel and fold the towel over the seeds. Carefully place the paper towels in a plastic bag or container and seal. This will prevent the paper towels from drying out. Label the container with the plant name and planting date. Check every few days to see if the seeds have germinated. Seed packages often state how many days it takes for seeds to germinate. You can also use this information to decide when to start checking for seeds. Many seeds he germinates within 7-10 days.

Once the seeds have germinated, the germination rate can be determined. For most people he runs 10 seeds to simplify this calculation. Once all the seeds have sprouted, you can plant them normally. If 90-70% of the seed germinates, it can still be used, but it is recommended to sow a little more than usual. If the germination rate is less than 50-60%, it’s probably best to buy new seeds.

Seed germination and viability are often used interchangeably. Remember that germination is the ability of a seed to germinate, whereas viability is the seed’s ability to produce healthy seedlings. Even if the seed germinates, it may become a weak seedling.

Most vegetables do not require layering, but some flowers do. Stratification is the process of simulating natural conditions, such as cold exposure in winter, to stimulate germination. Plants such as milkweed, purple coneflowers, and black-eyed susans, like many other native plant seeds, require cool, moist stratification. Make sure that does not require any sort of stratification.

If you have leftover seeds, or are planning to save seeds for next year, be sure to store them properly so they can run for as long as possible. should be stored in a cool, dry place no higher than 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Putting the seeds in a sealed jar or bag in the refrigerator is also a good option to ensure that your seed stash will still work next year. .

Ken Johnson is a gardening educator for UI extensions serving Calhoun, Cass, Greene, Morgan, and Scott counties. This column also appears on the “Good Growing” blog at

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