Many gardeners, including myself, enjoy saving seeds from their own gardens. I save seeds from non-hybrid tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, winter and summer squash, cosmos, calendula, foxglove, and more. I also store leftover store-bought seeds from year to year. I clean and dry my collected seed, package it in homemade paper packets, and store the packets along with any leftover seeds in a well-sealed jar in the refrigerator. Sometime in January I bring everything out, sort through it, and test the seeds for germination.
I don’t want to waste my time planting seeds that will not grow so testing for germination is the easy solution. You will need:
Seeds – Duh!
Count out 10 seeds (this is an important number!) and place them on a paper towel. Label a baggie with the name of the seed and the date.
Fold the seeds into a strip of paper towel. Fold the top of the paper towel down over the seed, fold the bottom up and then fold the strip, with the seeds enclosed, end over end until you have a (approximately) 2×2 package. Hold the package under a faucett of warm water, soak it well, and squeeze it out.
Put the wet, squeezed out package of ten seeds into its matching labeled baggie. I line up all the baggies of seed packages in a loaf pan and stash it in a warm place – I use the top of my refrigerator.
After 5 days check the seeds for germination. This picture (I took the seeds out of the paper towel and put them onto a dark background) shows pea seeds that have been in their baggie for 5 days. I now know that, out of 10 seeds, 8 germinated. This tells me that these seeds have 80% germination. Because I used 10 seeds I can easily figure out the percentage of germination - 4 seeds germinate = 40% - 8 seeds germinate = 80% germination, etc. I know that these seeds are worthy of my time. I also know that I will not have to buy more snow pea seeds this year.
Now is the perfect time to dig out those seeds you stashed away last fall. Most of us have a limited time to devote to our gardens and planting seed that will never germinate wastes precious time. Besides, messing around with seeds somehow makes spring feel closer.
Hey from the farm,
Fran The Country Cousin