How to check if your older seeds are still good.
Many types of seeds will still be alive even after being stored for many months, some even for years. You only want to plant seeds that will germinate and grow. How do you know if your seeds are viable? Do this simple germination test.
What does viable mean?
Seeds that are viable are alive and able to germinate, they still have life force in them. Seeds that are not viable are dead, they cannot germinate or grow into plants.
How long do seeds last?
How long seeds will last depends on many factors including the type of seed as well as the saving and storage methods. Some seeds will only stay viable for one year, while others might last over a decade when stored properly. Lettuce and onion seeds often have a very short life, while tomato seeds have been known to stay viable for well over 10 years.
How do I know if my seeds are still viable?
Are you wondering if those seeds in that drawer in your basement are viable (able to germinate and grow)?
Maybe you didn't plant all the seeds that came in those packets last year or the year before, or, if you're like me, your eyes were bigger than your calendar, and you bought more seed varieties than you could plant or manage, so you want to try them this year? OR perhaps you tried saving seeds last year, and now your are wondering "are my saved seeds viable?".
It is much easier to test the germination of seeds prior to planting, then to wait and wonder over moist earth.
Supplies you need to test the germination rate of your seeds:
You don't need any fancy equipment to test if your seeds are still good. Many people recommend placing each type of seed in separate plastic baggies, but I prefer to avoid using plastic when I can, so I have modified the method.
a glass casserole dish with a lid (or a similar container)
a piece of paper (for making your legend)
Steps for a simple paper towel germination test: