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Wed Feb 15, 2012, 10:38 AM

With seeds, how old is too old?

I have a bunch of packets marked 2008. Stored in a zip lock bag out of the sun. Plant them and add extras to be sure I get seedlings or pitch them? I have beans, squash, melons, lettuce, leeks and cukes.

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Reply With seeds, how old is too old? (Original post)
wildeyed Feb 2012 OP
BlueToTheBone Feb 2012 #1
Scuba Feb 2012 #2
shraby Feb 2012 #3
NRaleighLiberal Feb 2012 #4
Gormy Cuss Feb 2012 #5
HopeHoops Feb 2012 #6
Le Taz Hot Feb 2012 #7
wildeyed Mar 2012 #8

Response to wildeyed (Original post)

Wed Feb 15, 2012, 11:57 AM

1. you can check viability

by taking a few from each pack and placing them in a paper towel on a dish, keep moist for a few days and see what happens. Long germination periods probably won't work this way, but things that germinate in a few days will work this way. Keep the paper evenly moist. If it drys out it may kill the seeds.
Have fun. BTW many seeds have a very long shelf life if stored well.

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Response to wildeyed (Original post)

Wed Feb 15, 2012, 04:38 PM

2. 2,000 years, but I open to older seeds....

 

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Response to wildeyed (Original post)

Wed Feb 15, 2012, 04:40 PM

3. Some years ago, I had a garden and my father-in-law planted some

corn in it that his mother who had been dead for over ten years had put away years before that. I know because she was around 80 when I got married and my kids were around 10 when we planted the garden..the seeds grew great and corn to eat was had by all.

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Response to wildeyed (Original post)

Wed Feb 15, 2012, 05:30 PM

4. 2008 is not that old....see below

the onion family loses viability quite quickly, so the leeks will be iffy.

I think you will find that the rest should have reasonable germination.

Tomato seeds last well with no special treatment for 15 years or so; I've done some experiments showing that 18 years seems to be the limit. Hot Peppers and Sweet Peppers are OK out to 5-6 years. Eggplant the same.

The biggest enemy of seeds is moisture...(until you plant them of course, then it is a friend!)

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Response to wildeyed (Original post)

Thu Feb 16, 2012, 10:01 PM

5. I never throw out seeds. I try to germinate old ones in a light seed starting blend or Jiffy pellet

I add extras and wait to see what comes up. If nothing germinates the soil or pellet is added to a garden bed.
I think most on that list will germinate at a good rate except the leeks but just this year I coaxed a couple of plants out of a package of 2 or 3 year old seed, so you never know.

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Response to wildeyed (Original post)

Sat Feb 18, 2012, 11:38 AM

6. Legumes - never if they are kept dry. Squash, about 3 years. Nightshades at least 10.

 

I've never had old lettuce-type seeds not sprout, or radishes for that matter. Root crops also tend to come up regardless of age. You'll get decreasing germination rates for most seeds, so the older they are the closer you need to plant them. It can also help to soak them overnight before planting day.

I'm still using radish and lettuce seeds that I know are at least 20 years old. I plant them everywhere in and around the other plants because they produce HUGE fibrous root systems that remain in the ground when you pluck them. It adds organic material. Radishes are also great for marking rows. The sprouts are probably the easiest thing to identify and usually come up within a week. Just mix them in with carrot or other slow-to-sprout seeds and the row will be easy to distinguish from weeds.

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Response to wildeyed (Original post)

Mon Feb 20, 2012, 10:01 AM

7. When I was new to gardening

I heeded the "experts'" advice and threw out my seeds after the current year expired. The next year, I decided NOT to throw them out and use them for the following year. I've found that each year I get a smaller and smaller yield from the old seeds but I figure even if only 20% of them come up say, in year 5, I'm still ahead because I've already paid for them.

I know I'm supposed to do all this sealing and refrigerating but I never do and I always have good results. I know, blasphemy! but it works for me.

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Response to wildeyed (Original post)

Sat Mar 17, 2012, 09:09 AM

8. Update

Everything sprouted, including the seeds from 2008. The older seeds maybe took longer to get started, but they are going like gangbusters now

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