Featured Garden Sense

Seed Viability #GardenSense

Jim Nix photo flickr creative commons.

Jim Nix photo flickr creative commons.

If you are like me, by now you probably have put your garden to bed. Your focus turned to raking leaves. Maybe mulching and reseeding some bare patches in the lawn.
Your hand tools are clean and stored. Starter pots are neatly stacked on their designated shelves.
Yeah right. 😉
I have most of those things done and a few others too. One thing I always agonize over is throwing out seeds.
Now I know I’m always talking about how important it is to save seeds. Saving seeds is vital to preserving heirloom varieties. That’s all well and good. But what if you don’t get to plant those seeds come spring? How long can you keep them?
Seed viability depends on age of the seed as much as how you dry and store it. Once your seeds are totally dried, store them in a dark, cool place that has low humidity.
You can get an estimate of how well your seeds weathered winter by doing a germination test in spring. Count out about 20 seeds and place them in a damp paper towel. Place the towel in a zip baggie and store it according to the conditions for germinating those seeds. Check it in about a week and see what percentage of seeds sprouted.
Here is an easy reference chart for some popular garden vegetables.
5 years:
Artichokes, celery, collards, cress, cucumbers, endive, escarole, lettuce, melons, radish, turnips
4 years:
Chard, eggplant, fennel, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, pumpkins, rutabagas, summer squash, tomatoes, watermelons
3 years: peas, spinach
2 years: corn, okra
1 year: leeks, onions

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About the author

Cindy's Recipes and Writings

As a professional cook, I love creating exciting new recipes on the job as well as at home. Assisting in teaching low-income families how to buy, store and prepare healthy food through Penn State’s alliance with Pennsylvania’s Supercupboard Program was very rewarding. During my 11 years with the Master Gardener program, I taught horticultural therapy to assisted living patients using healthful, fr
esh grown food as a focal point. . My hands-on programs and instruction helped hundreds of children and adults learn about where their food comes from and how important fresh food is for your body.
Currently I’m a cook at a college in Pennsylvania. We prepare everything we can from scratch, including our potato chips that tout the seasoning of the day!
Of course I write about food; it's in my blood!

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