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Seed Expiration

Updated: Jan 19

Do you know if your seeds are still viable? How long do seeds remain viable before expiring?


Checking my seeds for expired packages

Checking your seed stash for expiration is something you can do every year, but don't throw out an "old" seeds just yet. You can test your expired seeds to see if they are still viable, and test their germination rate. They may still be worth planting.


This seed pack is from 2015. 7 years old. 3 years past the recommended usage period

Simply place the seeds on a damp paper towel and place in a ziploc bag with the corner left open. Ten seeds is ideal (for math reasons), but test what you can spare. Label the bag and set on the counter. After 7-10 days (depends on the variety), check on the germination.


Don't forget to label!







I put mine on a heat mat, but it's not necessary

Divide the number of seeds that germinated by the total that you started for your germination rate. Example: you started 7 seeds, and 4 of them germinated. Your germination rate is 4/7 = 57%. It's up to you if the germination rate is worth your time to plant. You can plant the germinated seeds up in pots of soil and continue to grow, or you can throw the whole experiment in the compost pile (minus the ziploc bag of course!)



Here is a guideline for seed expiration based on variety. I used three different sources for this information which is why some of the varieties show a timeframe as opposed to a single number of years.


Vegetable

Storage Years

Vegetable

Storage Years

Arugula

6

Kohrabi

3-5

Asparagus

3

Leek

2

Bean

3

Lettuce

6

Beet

5

Muskmelon

5

Broccoli

3-5

Mustard

4

Brussels Sprouts

4-5

Okra

2

Cabbage

4-5

Onion

1

Cantaloupe

5

Parsley

1

Carrot

3-6

Parsnip

1

Cauliflower

4-5

Pea

3

Celeriac

3

Pepper

2

Celery

3

Pumpkin

4

Chard, Swiss

4-5

Radish

5-6

Chicory

4

Rutabaga

4

Collards

5

Salsify

1

Corn

2

Spinach

3

Cucumber

5

Squash

4

Eggplant

4

Tomato

4

Endive

5-6

Turnip

4

Fennel

4

Water Cress

5

Kale

4

Watermelon

4-5


Storage Years
.pdf
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If you are up for a garden experiment, check the germination before throwing out any old seeds. There are stories of tomato seeds still germinating after 20+ years!

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