ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Checking Seed Viability - Seed Starting Basics

Updated on January 29, 2016
Jeanne Grunert profile image

Jeanne Grunert is a Virginia Master Gardener, gardening magazine columnist, and book author. She is a full-time freelance writer.

Source

Use Your Leftover Flower and Vegetable Seeds

If you're like many home gardeners, you probably have a bunch of opened seed packets stored away. Maybe you grew some vegetables from seed last year, or you have flower seeds that you loved so you carefully saved some for this year's garden. But how can you tell if the seeds are still good?

Testing seeds to see if they can still grow or germinate is called testing seed viability. "Viability" means life - is there enough life left inside those seeds so that they will germinate or sprout? Testing your open seed packages for viability is very easy. Before spending the time and effort of planting an entire package of garden seeds, test seed viability using this simple at-home method. For frugal gardeners and those who need to save money on their gardening practices, using what you have on hand before racing out to buy new seeds will save you money.

How to Test Your Stored Garden Seeds

To test seeds that you have leftover from last year, you will need the following materials:

  • Seeds
  • A plastic zip lock bag big enough to hold a folded paper towel
  • A paper towel
  • Magic marker to label the bag

Count out an even number of seeds from the open package you wish to test. For example, count out 10 or 20 seeds. Moisten the paper towel and place your seeds on one quarter of the paper towel. Fold the towel so that the seeds are nestled between the moist folds of the paper towel. Slide the paper towel into the plastic bag and zip it sealed, gently pressing air out of the bag. Use your magic marker and label the baggy with the date and name of the seeds you are testing.

Place the sealed bag in a warm area. It's not necessary for it to receive sunlight; just keep it warm. Some people place it on a windowsill near a radiator, or perhaps on top of the refrigerator where the motor generates some heat. Either method is fine. You want the package at room temperature or slightly warmer.

After two days, open the bag and unfold the paper towel. Count how many seeds are showing signs of life. Look for green shoots or the seeds splitting and cracking while the tiny new leaves emerge. If you used 10 seeds and 4 sprouted, you have a germination rate of 40%, which isn't great but not bad. If none sprout, you can try your test again if you have extra seeds or just throw the open seed package away - it's not likely you have many seeds in the package that will sprout.

You can use this method to test any open package of flower, herb or vegetable seeds. Some seeds are very tiny, however, and will be difficult to see or test. This test works best with many vegetable seeds such as beans, pumpkin, cucumbers, squash, corn and similar vegetables - large seeds you can see easily.

Source

Storing Vegetable Seeds and Flower Seeds

Most home gardeners need only a percentage of the seeds in every seed package. After all, if you buy a package of tomato seeds, there are about 30 seeds in the average package - and you may not have room for 30 tomato plants. There are certain ways of saving vegetable seeds, flower seeds and herb seeds over the winter to improve the potential for successful germination the following year.

  • Keep seeds dry. Moisture helps them germinate; dry temperatures keep them stored.
  • Store them in airtight containers with tight-fitting lids. Many seeds are tasty treats for pests such as mice. I use old coffee cans or similar containers to store my seeds and keep critters out of them.
  • Cool or cold temperatures also help keep seeds viable longer. Some gardeners store them in the basement of their homes, which generally has a steady 60-65 degree temperature for most homes.

Be sure to keep your original seed packages. These contain helpful planting tips including germination times, planting times, and more.

Source

© 2012 Jeanne Grunert

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)