This year I have had good germination rates with most of my seeds. In the case of the tomatoes (which are easy to keep track of) it was 100%. Likewise, all but one of my Broad Bean seeds germinated - and both of its replacements! It's not so easy to judge the germination rate of smaller seeds sown in bigger quantities, but I'm very satisfied with these:
Those are Calendulas, from seeds given to me last year by Mike Rogers (aka Flighty), who writes the blog "Flighty's Plot". Mike sent me a very generous quantity of seeds, and I didn't sow them all last year. These ones are therefore about two years old, yet they are still obviously very vigorous.
These Chives are the ones from the cheap pack I bought at Wilkinson's. No germination problems here either!
Likewise plenty of Thyme seedlings have come up.
When sowing seeds I always sow a lot more than I really need, so a less-than-100% germination rate is seldom an issue. The exception is when I'm sowing F1 seeds, because packets of those normally contain only a very small number, and cost a lot of money. I generally sow F1 seeds individually, and monitor them very carefully.
I wonder what your opinion is of using "old" seeds? I think seed-merchants try to maximise their sales by trying to persuade us that seeds have a short shelf-life, but (with certain exceptions) I remain unconvinced. I regularly use seeds from packets opened two or three years previously, and sometimes much older than that. I'm still using some Chicories from a pack with a 2009 expiry date! The seeds with the shortest viability are supposed to be Parsnips. Most people think you should use fresh Parsnip seeds each year. I would normally not have much hesitation in using the previous year's seeds, but I would probably not use Parsnip seeds from two years previously.
Longevity really depends upon what kinds of seed it is and how it is stored. I always buy spinach and carrots every year as they are iffy with germination and their seed usually only lasts maybe two years. New seed is just safer. But with any of the brassicas or lettuce the seed lasts 5 years. So why buy new? One of the companies that I buy from sell larger packs too which are a lot cheaper per seed. And I buy them for things that I use a lot of like bok choy and radishes.ReplyDelete
I did find germination issues in one of my seeds. I collected lettuce seed in 2009 and that seed no longer germinated this year. Luckily I had collected more last year so I used that. But it lasted five years before it failed. That is pretty good.
I had poor germination with the first lot of Maskotka tomatoes which I sowed, no problems with the second batch though and they were from the same packet which was new this year. Sometimes they just don't want to grow for you. The other tomatoes I sowed at the same time as the first batch all came up, it was just the Maskotkas. Old seed seems to perform ok, and if you're unsure that they're going to germinate, just sow extra because some are bound to.ReplyDelete
I store my seeds in the refrigerator and have had luck with germination with old seeds. Last year I purchased new seeds for spinach and germination was zilch. What a disappointment. I changed brands and varieties and this year have had success. I buy fresh seeds of snow peas each year because I use them all.ReplyDelete
Onion seeds are supposed to drop in viability after a year, so I buy those new. Most other things I use for several years. With my fresh spinach seed, only 2 of 40 have germinated, so you can never predict. You can always try a germination test, which is what the seed companies do.ReplyDelete
I guess if you have the millennium seed storage possibilities like Kew they can technically and thankfully last forever. However, some places, garden centres, supermarkets, my own bookshelf, magazines don't have the greatest conditions. In some garden centres seed packets are in full sun!! I'm most disappointed with expensive seeds that don't germinate. As you say F1 hybrid costing *£5 for 3 seeds... I throw out 3 years or older packets usually of seeds that have not been stored well.ReplyDelete
If in doubt about old seed you can always try to see if a sprinkling on damp cotton wool will shoot. Basically if 5 out of 10 shoot you may expect about a 50% viability rate.ReplyDelete
I don't hesitate to keep seeds around for a few years except for lettuce and alliums. As a general rule I just sow more seeds the older they get. And like you I always sow more than what I need and then plant the best of the best. I don't take particularly special measures to store my seeds, just keep them out of the sun and away from a heat source. I've had a number of experiences where my old seeds perform better than newly purchased seeds, so it makes me wonder how some seed purveyors store their stock.ReplyDelete
Looks like a booming year indeed! I inherited my Dad's seed box which has packets ranging from 2007-2011, they haven't failed me yet! I will update on that soon, I only got down to serious planting last week! KatieReplyDelete
I don't tend to pay too much attention to seed packet dates apart from parsnip and ones that are really really old. Your thyme seedlings look really cute, I must sow some too.ReplyDelete
I generally don't give up on old seeds until I at least try them first. I knew that onions are supposed to have a one year shelf life, so purchased new stock this year, but still tried to germinate my leftovers from last year. In this case, I actually got zero germination from the olds seeds so was very glad I had purchased new.ReplyDelete