Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Seed Organizing. Old Seeds.

Organized garden seed collection.
I organized the garden seed collection.  The packets were in boxes and scattered in drawers.  Some are old and may be dead.  There are multiple examples of multiple packets of the same or similar variety.  Wasteful on my part.

Now they are organized.  Each envelope is labeled with a category, such as Okra, Tomatoes, Peppers, Carrots & Radishes & Root vegetables, Squashes & Pumpkins, etc.  That way I can look in the envelope and see what I have.  For some I can do direct comparisons of different varieties this year, and see if there is a difference.

I should plant some of the oldest ones first this year.  Then if I have newer examples of the same variety, it should be good for next year.

Over the years I have germinated some pretty old seeds.  As I recall, some tomato seeds more than 5 years old, and some peppers more than 10 years old.  They are not in ideal seed storage conditions, just the house and some downstairs where it is cooler.

Bottom line is I have some old seeds to try.  I can plant old seeds and new seeds together, and compare the results.

This website "The Garden Bench" gives some expectations:

2 years: Sweet corn, lettuce, parsley, peppers, chard.
3 years: Bush and pole beans, carrots, cucumbers, melons, peas, squashes, tomatoes.
4: Radishes, turnips.
Seeds of annual flowers: 1 – 3 years
Seeds of perennials: 2 – 4 years.

From Gardening Know How
Corn and peppers - 2 years
Beans, peas, tomatos, carrots - 4 years
Cucumber, lettuce - 6 years

Tomato seeds, depending on how stored and how germinated, can last 4 to 7 years, up to 10 years, and an expert has germinated 22 year old seeds.

Seedsavers forum discussion on germinating old seeds - they report using an organice nitrogen fertilizer soak, to improve germination.  Beans at 6 years old and cotton at 12 years old.  Tomatoes at 20 years old.

This writer reports seeds that were frozen for a couple of years, then stored in a cool room for about 10 years.  There was germination of at least a few, for most varieties.  That included tomatoes, brassicas, squash, cucumbers, peas, beans, and others.  Probably better than my storage conditions, but also longer.

From the Argonne National Laboratory website -
 "The Garden Dictionary lists corn, dandelion, onion, and parsnip seeds as having an average viability of two years. Beet, carrot, lettuce, squash, turnip, and watermelon seeds remain viable for an average of 5 or 6 years but under ideal conditions may exceed 10 years. Cucumber and endive seeds are good for 10 years at least."

From Iowa State University-

How long will vegetable seeds last if stored properly? -
Seed TypeYearsSeed TypeYears

From 'Dirt Happy" website -

Estimated longevity of vegetable seeds, under good storage conditions.
5 years4 years3 years2 years1 year
CollardsBeetsAsparagusCorn, sweetOnion
Corn salad (mache)Brussels SproutsBeansLeekParsley
CucumberCauliflowerCabbage, ChinesePepperSalsify
EndiveChard, SwissCarrot

Muskmelon (Cantaloupe)EggplantCelery

Spinach *KaleKohlrabi

PumpkinNew Zealand Spinach








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