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Old seed viability

Posted by woost2 (My Page) on
Thu, Feb 18, 10 at 10:20

I have been given a box of seed packets, mostly from 2007. I know tomatoes can last for years but is there a rule of thumb for other veggies? There are peppers, tons of odd lettuce varieties, dry beans, squash. Most are Italian varieties as this was part of a seed exchange with a village in Italy.

I know I can (and will) do some wet paper towel tests, but I did that last year with basil and parsley seeds. All of them sprouts in the paper towels and in the seed trays but they certainly did not thrive.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Old seed viability

With the exception of the allium family (onions and such) most all seeds have a long term viability IF they were well stored (cool and dry). Germination rates fall off very gradually. So 2007 seeds aren't very old.

All of them sprouts in the paper towels and in the seed trays but they certainly did not thrive.

If they didn't thrive it wasn't the fault of the seeds. Once sprouted it is the growing conditions provided by the grower - the soil, the temperatures, the light, water, and nutrients - that determine if they thrive or not.

In other words, failure to thrive is a result of poor growing conditions, not the age of the seed. So consider changing your growing mix, watering habits, amount of light provided, fertilizers, etc.

Dave


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RE: Old seed viability

Thanks Dave. This means I need to learn more about herbs--probably more heat. "Matoes and peppers did fine, but these herbs (and ... oh yea, the shallots) were pathetic.


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RE: Old seed viability

probably more heat.

Keep in mind that heat is used only for germination. Once germinated most all plants prefer cooler temps for growing - at least until ready to go into the garden. The recommended "growing temps" for seedlings is 50-65 degrees maximum.

Dave


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RE: Old seed viability

I've had parsley and basil from 2005 germinate this year, not a high percentage, but still viable nonetheless.

Similarly I've germinated hot peppers from 2005 this January, about 60% germinated.

On the other hand, I'm still waiting over four weeks for cubanelle peppers from 2006 to germinate, I think they're a goner.

While were on the subject, a poster named spinonitaliani on the Vegetable forum was inquiring about heirloom Italian seed a few weeks ago. You might have some interests in common.


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RE: Old seed viability

Hi Tom. Question on your cubanelles that are disappointing you. Don't give up on 'em quite yet. I have learned over the years that some take FORever it seems, and then they don't pop up all at the same time. I've heard a theory about the timing of seeds from the same pack (or saved)... that somehow, they have a built in 'hedge your bets' way of not all coming up at once, in case the weather is not good. I don't know for sure if that's true, but I sure like the theory!

Woost2, be sure to store your seeds COOL very cool...

Best to all, Homegrown


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RE: Old seed viability

I germinated alyssum seeds from 1997, so I will report back on some of my old tomato and lettuce seeds....and more!


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RE: Old seed viability

Hopefully the seeds were stored properly. What a great gift; a box of Italian veggie seeds for FREE! Good luck.


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