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Seed Viability & Germination Testing

Views: 12945 | Last Update: 2009-04-29
Try placing saved heirloom seeds in a damp napkin in a bag to check for viability. Learn about growing greens from old heirloom seeds from an organic farmer in this free gardening video. View Video Transcript

About this Author

Daniel Botkin

Video Transcript

So you've got some heirloom seeds, perhaps you've been given some or you collected some in a far away place, and you're not sure if they're any good, and you don't want to waste your time on seeds that are no good. So what do you do? Well there's a simple test. Here you have some sugar snap peas. One of my favorites. The seeds are several years old. They may be good. They may not be good. How do we know? Okay. So she's going to take, she's going to take ten seeds and put them in a napkin and fold it over and put the napkin into this little baggie and put a little tiny bit of moisture into the baggie. Good. Just enough to activate those seeds. Now left in a warm room, seventy degrees, we should know within three to five days how many of these seeds have some life left in them. If six germinate we have sixty percent germination. If two germinate it's pretty low. That's twenty percent of course. I might still plant these seeds, but it'll give me a better idea the viability of the seed. We also have some information about seed viability that we can apply to the situation. We know that the big fleshy wet seeds have a shorter, a shorter shelf life, and the hard rock little seeds they tend to last a long time. In fact I heard they took wheat out of pharoh's tomb and germinated it. Several thousand year old seeds and they still germinated. That's pretty miraculous.