We've all noticed those dates on the back of the seed packages we buy, but what exactly does that mean? Do the seeds really expire? Let's find out...
According to Marie Woodie of Horticulture Magazine, it's not so much the date that matters, but the variety of seeds and how they've been stored. It's true that some seeds will keep much longer than others depending on the variety of the seeds themselves. So how do you know which ones are viable Without testing them you won't, so let's look into how to exactly do that.
How to Test for Germination:
First, you will need 10 seeds of the same variety, a paper towel, and some water. Place your seeds in a line on a damp paper towel. Fold the paper towel over and place it in a Ziploc bag. Place the bag in a warm area, but out of direct sunlight and keep it moistened. Make sure to check the seeds daily and remoisten the paper towel if it begins drying out. You should generally see germination within ten days, though depending on the seed variety it can take up to a couple of weeks. With this method, a pretty good result would be if at least half of the seeds germinate. You could also sow the 10 seeds directly into the soil in your garden to check the germination rate and the seeds reaction to your soil.
One very interesting article provides remarkable information regarding the longevity of seed life:
"Beyond the realm of vegetables, some seeds stay viable for very long periods. Last year, with a little expert care, some seeds from botanical specimens found tucked inside a book for 200 years were successfully germinated. And seeds of the common wild poppy are thought to remain viable for up to 100 years. The incredible display of poppies which bloomed on the First World War battlefields in the years immediately following the armistice was a mass germination of dormant seeds in the soil. Poppies are adapted as a cornfield weed and are sensitive to soil disturbance, so four years of pelting with mortar shells was just what they needed to trigger them off - generations of accumulated seed suddenly brought to life" You can read more from this article titled Why I Love Out of Date Seeds.
Did you read that 100-200 Years! So test those seeds and get to growing people!
Recently on our Facebook Fan Page, we gave away tons of free packets of seeds to participates in Our 3rd Annual Christmas Card Swap. Each package we sent out included a variety of 25 Certified Organic and/or Heirloom packets and a Garden Pouch Herb Kit all from 'Seeds of Change'.
Thank you to everyone who participated in our card swap, we gave away over 300 packets of seeds! We would love to see pictures of your gardens this season, so be sure to share pictures of your harvest with us. Happy Planting!