I often find myself looking through my small library of store bought packets and randomly collected seeds. Just looking at my seed collection inspires me. I think about the upcoming season and all the plants I hope to grow.
Over the years, I have learned that, if stored properly, seeds can have a much longer shelf life than most gardeners expect — especially if you are as hopeful (and as frugal) as I am. Faced with the demands of childcare, running a household, and a relatively short growing season, I am not one for wasting time with seeds that are no longer viable, and so I’ve learned of an easy way to verify the viability of my seeds before spending time digging in the dirt. This tip will be helpful to determine which seeds in your collection will germinate – before you start filling those containers with potting medium and before you are disappointed.
- You will need a damp paper towel, a sealable plastic bag, and a marker.
- Dampen the paper towel so it is moist but not sopping wet.
- Place the seeds you are testing or germinating on one half of the paper towel. Leave a little space between them.
- Fold the other half of the paper towel over the seeds.
- Place the folded flat paper towel inside the sealable plastic bag. Seal three quarters of the bag, leaving a small opening. Label the bag with seed name and date.
- Place the flattened bag in a dark drawer or cabinet.
- After four days, check on the seeds by opening the bag and paper towel. The seeds should be absorbing the water and puffing up, eventually sprouting. If they haven’t sprouted, give them more time and keep the paper towel moist. Continue to check on them daily. If nothing happens by a week or so, the seeds are probably not going to sprout.
- Once the seeds do sprout, you can transplant them into a pot or, if the outdoor temperatures are warm enough, straight into the ground.