Dec 312010

I have a five gallon bucket half full of seed packets, some going back to 2008. We’ve all heard the stories about viable seed found in the Pyramids. But how do you check your seed to see if it’s viable? As always, Steve Solomon has the answer:

“Do a germ test on every packet; the packets that germ well now will germ
well next spring. Put 10 to 20 seeds in a folded moist paper towel in a
sealed plastic container held at 75° (for most sorts of seed). If you get
more than 70% germ within ten days, assume it is good seed for next spring.”

I was getting ready to toss them but this seems like a much better idea.


  11 Responses to “Old Vegetable Seed”

  1. we regularly use seed that is two to three years old. i just sow extra, but a germ test is probably a better idea.

  2. Are there any markings to tell if seeds in a package will grow plants with seeds that can be harvested for next season?
    Or maybe a link to Seeds 101.

  3. Now that I think about the BBS and labor exchange idea, having a couple of “Seed Bank” growers on Lummi would be a worthwhile exchange of “Lummi Hours”. Anyone need some weeds pulled for some lettuce and carrot seeds?

  4. I think we should hold a ‘seedy saturday’ (; — some Sat toward the end of January where we can get together for seed swap and/or (nod to Mike) seed-for-labor swap. If I could find 1-2 other people to work with, I’d even be willing to help organize this.

    And Mike – I’m willing not only to swap some weeding for seeds, I’d even like to swap effort-for-food. I really like growing stuff and saving seed and have the space & conditions to grow more than I need. I’d love to find someone to partner with, to help with (some) chores for a substantial part of the harvest. I’d put this on the test bb but am waiting for approval.

  5. I really like the hour swap thing, as it makes life so much easier to have people doing what they like or do best.
    I’ve been wondering how hours can be assigned for things, other than people hours. Say my backhoe and loader. Would someone like me get credit for 1 people hour, and the backhoe say 1 or 2 more people hours. How about a carpenter, who provides all their own tools to do a job, or the electrician.
    I suppose each laborer could specify what there terms are, up front, and see what happens.
    One other observation I noted last summer. When I paid my grandkids to pull weeds, by the hour, the buckets didn’t fill up very fast. When I switched to a nickel a weed, they flew out of the ground. I wonder if people outgrow that behavior?

  6. Mike, I will query time banks until I get an answer to your question. Although I recall watching an video on time banks where a physician was in the bank and traded hour for hour. There is unequal value in labor too. But, equipment, particularly heavy equipment would seem to fit in a different category. Randy.

  7. A seedy Saturday is a bit too organized for me — I don’t even think about squash till much later than late January. Maybe, in addition to a S.S. we could have a basket at Sisters or somewhere at The Islander where we can donate the packets we won’t be using for anyone to take.
    As far as well-out-of-date seeds are concerned, I periodically spread the remains of a packet of, e.g., carrots or radishes in an out-of-the-way bit of garden bed, ignore it, and am often delighted with an unexpected harvest.

  8. I like Nancy’s suggestions, not really being very inclined to organization myself. However . . . I just talked with Ginny Winfield who started up the gardening group/club last year. She had already been thinking about seed swapping at upcoming garden club events (next is on Feb. 3, 6:30 at the Firehall).

    We agreed that coordination would be a Really Good Thing. Hopefully we’ll find some other seedy types, to find out more about community seed swaps and who are good organizers (not me — I’m good at starting stuff … like seeds … but not so good at later stuff . . . like weeding or harvesting). Anyone who wants to jump in, please let me or Ginny know.

  9. I am very interested in the idea of skills/materials exchange, it has been on my mind for a few months; great to find out people have been discussing and doing this. I was on staff at the Community Skills Bank in Ashland OR in the 70’s. We traded out hour for hour and and not even directly across; folks just logged hours and the ‘bank’ kept track. We actually wrote a grant for some part time paid staff.
    On the seed exchange: Would it work for folks Feb 3rd at Garden Network meeting time, and place (6:30 at the firehall).

  10. Ginny, were there any special provisions for equipment used in the time bank, i.e. a backhoe or rototiller (something relative expensive that gets wear and tear). Or, was an hour just an hour no matter what?

  11. […] Feb. 3, 2011 meeting of the garden group, at the Fire Hall (6:30 pm).  Randy posted an article on Transition Lummi Island, to which I responded with a comment (4th  down) about Canada’s recent “Seedy […]

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