Raise your hand If, at this time of year, you have stepped out to the garage or other location where you have stored your seeds from the previous year or years and questioned, “Are these seeds any good?” Will they sprout (grow or produce shoots or buds)? Will I waste my time and effort if I sow these seeds? My hand is raised I have leftover flower and vegetable seeds from the previous year, gathered seeds, and seeds given to me by others.
- Seeds are expensive, and some seeds have sentimental value since they were given to you by particular friends or family members.
- So what can you do? There are a couple of tests that may be used to determine whether or not the seeds in question will germinate or are viable (able to take root or grow).
The water test is one way for assessing seed viability. Place the seeds in a jar containing water. Give the seeds 15 minutes to sit. If the seeds sink, they are still viable; if they float, they should be discarded as they are unlikely to germinate. Can seeds that sink be planted nonetheless? Answer: Yes.
Sow the seeds straight into the soil if it is the correct time to plant, or properly dry the seeds and plant them when the time is right. The germination test is a more reliable alternative procedure. Place at least ten seeds from the seed packet in question in a row on a slightly wet paper towel. The towel should be folded over the seeds and placed in a transparent plastic bag.
Place the sealed bag in a warm (above 70 degrees) area. Although light is not a significant influence for the majority of seeds, a warm windowsill or the top of the refrigerator is an excellent site. (Note: You may alternatively set the wet towel on a plate and cover it with plastic wrap.
Thus, more varieties of seeds can be sown in distinct rows on the moist towel. On the exterior of the bag, write the date and type of seed with a permanent marker. Examine the seed packaging (if available) and make note of the germination timeframes. Check the seeds after a few days based on the typical germination timeframes provided on the seed packaging to determine whether any have sprouted.
If no package is present, examine the seeds in seven to ten days. If you are like me, you will be checking them daily, maybe many times each day. Remove the paper towel-wrapped seeds from the bag and count the number of sprouting seeds after the seeds have begun to germinate.
If only half of the seeds sprouted, it is likely that only half will germinate. Do not yet press the panic button. Simply sprinkle the seeds more densely than usual in your container or garden. According to the University of Illinois Extension Office, it may be best to purchase new seeds if less than 70 percent germinate.
Can seeds that have sprouted be planted? Answer: Yes. Plan to conduct the germination test close to the planting date so that the seeds may be planted. Here is a delightful “Garden in a Glove” project for teaching youngsters about germination to parents and grandparents.
- Material requirements: a clear plastic glove, a permanent marker, five distinct types of seeds, cotton balls, a pencil, a twist knot or thread.
- Have the youngster use the permanent marker to write his or her name and the date of the project on the glove.
- Write each seed variety’s name on a glove finger.
Soak cotton balls in water and wring away extra moisture. Place three to four seeds in each cotton ball, then fold the cotton ball to secure the seeds. Place the cotton ball in the glove finger that has been suitably designated, then press the ball into the fingertip with the pencil.
- After placing all cotton balls with seeds, blow air into the glove and seal the top with a twist knot or thread.
- Hang the glove in a window or other warm area and observe for results.
- The seeds ought to sprout within three to five days.
- Once they have germinated, cut off the tips of the gloves, remove the cotton balls, and plant them in the soil.
Here are some other sources of information: S andusky County Extension 419-334-6340; The Ohio State University, https://sandusky.osu.edu/home ; Ottawa County Extension The Ohio State University Extension Ottawa County Office, https://extension.osu.edu/ottawa-countyoffice, 419-898-3631.
How can you recognize excellent seeds?
Seed Float Test for Viability
What is quality seed? – Good seed is pure (of the selected variety), full and uniform in size, viable (greater than 80% germination with good seedling vigor), and devoid of weed seeds, seed-borne illnesses, pathogens, insects, and other contaminants. Seed must be appropriately labeled.