Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Recovering Old Bean Seeds. 6.15.16

Germinating 10 year old bean seeds.

Rinsed Germinating Bean Seeds.  6.15.16
Ning had some old bean seeds.  I've been keeping them in the basement in plastic containers.  These are a Chinese variety, wide bean similar to Romas but with thicker pods.  They are not squeaky like most green beans.

The seeds are 3 types.  There is a dark brown seed, a light brown seed with darker markings, and a white seed. 

I have tried to locate new seeds, but can't find the variety.  At the saturday market, we did buy some once at a Chinese vegetable stand.

I decided to try to germinate the seeds.  There might be 400 seeds.  I did not count.  I used the wet paper towel method.

None grew the first week.  The second week there were some sprouts, and some seeds rotted.  I rinsed all of the seeds in a sieve, planted the sprouted seeds, and incubated the remainder for additional several days using fresh wet paper towel and fresh zipper plastic bag.  Then I repeated the sorting, rinsing, planting, and incubate for additional time.  Now, about 2 weeks having passed, about 40 seeds have sprouted.  It's possible they won't all get to the green leaf stage, since there was some rotting of dead seads.  The purpose of the rinsing is to remove as much detrimental bacterial life, as possible.
Bean Seedlings.  6.15.16

These will get special planting and treatment when they have their first true leaves.  I intend to save a few dozen seeds, so we have fresh seeds next year. 


  1. How old were the seeds that you were using? ( me foraging in the forest )

    1. Forgot that critical detail! They are somewhere around 15 years old. No date on label, but I recall that we grew some them the first or second year at our Vancouver house, and that was 2001.

  2. Wow this gives me hope. For a seed hoarder, I have a lot of old seeds. I think the bean seeds show signs of lack of vitality around 3 yrs in storage. I notice the "skin" will be rather hard so the cotyledon won't able to open. I use my fingers to peel away the covering and the seed will able to germinate. I have more seed lost due to mice and slugs then low germination rate.

  3. You and I both, seed hoarders. They do show a lack of vitality. Some also look mutated, with missing first leaves, or the first real leaves are distorted. Most look fine, healthy and ready to grow. Of course, that's of the germinated seeds, which is less than 20% of the bag.

    I wonder if abnormal plants will grow out of that, or maybe need to go to seed then the next generation will be more vigorous? Only way to find out is to try and see. I plan to set aside enough beans to ripen and dry out, to get a good batch of fresh seeds for next year.

    If there is mutation in the stored seed, it should be random so some are mutated in one way, and others not mutated, and others mutated in another way. Maybe while growing, the abnormal cells will fizzle out, while cells that mutate back to normal will take over. Some variegated plants do that, so the non-variaged back-mutation takes over and grows more vigorously than the variegated original.

    If lack of vigor is due to oxidized fats or depletion of nutrients or vitamins, then I would think that the growing plant would make normal nutrients and vitamins, and after making a few leaves would be back to normal. That's only a guess on my part.

    Or, the mutated plants will fizzle out, while the remaining normal plants will make seeds for the next generation.

  4. p.s. I also sprinkled Sluggo around the seedlings that I planted out. And they are fenced in, against the damn deer and rabbits. I want these beans to grow.

  5. I agreed on the deformed ones. Yeah, old seeds have more single first leaves then the fresh seeds. I hate to waste any seeds and I only saved seeds from parent plants that looks healthy. I've more lost from slugs and coon. He just won't quit, and have not find a bait that will work for the trap. I sometimes give away to fellow gardeners who never save any seeds. I've so much seedlings that I gorilla planted them at my friends' plot; they guessed it was me anyway:-o

  6. I hope you friends liked the gorilla seedlings!