Someone asked me just the other day… How long do seeds last? They always say packed for (insert year)… Are they still good a year later? Two years? Ten years?Good question! But no good answer, unfortunately. I’ve heard of seeds being discovered in ancient tombs that still germinate and grow! Yet I’ve also had packages of seed from the most recent year that don’t do anything at all. I think that there’s a lot that goes into it.
Here are some of the things that I know can affect seed viability:
What’s the best way not to waste your pots, soil, fertilizer and time on questionable seed?
If you know your seed has gotten frozen, overheated, wet or crushed, maybe just chuck it and buy fresh seed. But if you’re not sure about the seed and don’t want to waste it, maybe give it a try in a tray and see what it does! Starting the seed in a tray is a faster than starting it in starter pots, plus you don’t have a bunch of empty pots if your seed is not very productive. Trays often also save space on the greenhouse shelf. (I start almost all of my seeds in trays these days, good or questionable.)
So that begs the question… How good is seed that you get at the community seed exchange?
Well, that’s also a good question that’s not easily answered. Many of the seeds I’ve traded for at my local exchange have had a very good germination rate! But maybe I have just been lucky. You never know what preparation and storage conditions were like at someone else’s house.