Sunday, January 10, 2010

Garden Log: Testing seeds for germination

As planned, this is the start of the germination testing for old seeds. The objective is to determine which packets might as well be composted, and which ones can be planted for this year's vegetable garden. I haven't done it this way in the past, so it's an experiment.

Two generic white paper towels, marked with squares and labeled with the seed varieties and year. The year is the year to sell, so they were one season old at that point. I wanted to test tomato varieties, peppers, and beans. There were also some squash, spinach, radish, and Chinese parsley seeds, so i thought, "why not".

The seed sizes are quite different, but I don't think that matters.

Covered with a paper towel, and very carefully slid into zipper type plastic bag. I did not lift them from the table, just slid, to avoid spilling seeds. This was the most difficult step, especially for round seeds.

I used a tablespoon to add water to the paper towels, about 1-2 tablespoons to each square. This was challenging, again trying to avoid spilling seeds from their designated squares. The labels became more visible when the paper towels were moist. Most of the seeds stayed in place. Once moist, they don't move around much. These photos are also my record, in case the labels become nonlegible.

Then moved to the seed warming pad. My main concern is that the pad is designed to have a seed flat sitting on it, and this method may cause overheating. It's not an exact science. I may give in and buy a thermometer. Regardless, it's a few months to seed starting season, so if this doesn't work, I can try again.

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