Monday, February 05, 2007

Testing Your Seeds

Are you influenced by the colorful seed packets in hardware stores during the early spring? They are usually displayed in a prominent place during the time of year when your fingers are just itching to dig in the dirt and get something growing again. It's usually still to cold to plant when this happens to me, but I tend to plan ahead and start my little collection of seed packets, only to find that I have too many for the space that's available (or that I want to care for and weed). Thus, my collection of seed packets do not all get used and some are left-over to plant later in the growing season or the following spring. Additionally, as the recipient of my mother's collection of hand-collected and specialty seeds, I have found it necessary to determine which seeds are viable and which are old seeds that need to be thrown away. Here's what I've discovered:

Testing Your Seeds

1. Moisten an unbleached coffee filter.

2. Select two or three seeds from the seed packet you wish to test. Space them evenly on the coffee filter. Place the filter in an upright yogurt or Rubbermaid container with a lid. Set the container in a cool spot.

3. Peek into the container to filter each day for about 7 - 10 days. Some seeds may take a day or two longer. When you see a bulge in the coffee filter, you'll know the seeds are still viable and will sprout for you.


  1. Forest and I are itching to start gardening. We are going to start some tomatoes inside here real soon. He has his little portable green house up in his garden bed, hoping for some warmer weather when we will try to get some fresh greens growing. When I look through the seed catalogs, I'd like to have one of everything, but I'm holding myself back this year. I have too many left from years before, and should try to see if they will grow. Maybe Forest will do some seed testing for me.

    Elizabeth Joy

  2. That is a good thing to know, I think a lot of us will have seeds left over from one year to the next, it’s a shame to throw them away if they are still viable, on the other hand it would not be good to rely on them without knowing for sure if they would still sprout so I think that is a good tip. Bob.


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