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Seed sprouting for testing viability of Old seed

 
Posts: 29
Location: N Kentucky/S Ohio
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Hey everybody,
If there is a already post on this I haven't found it, if so please let me know!

Money is tight I'm in the middle of a move but apparently I can't go a year without plants, I'm in too deep...

I was offered a large amount of old seed packets anywhere from one season to four years old of mostly heirloom seed, and along with my own stash, after planting some and just wondering..Ive ran over myself and gone nuts this morning laying them all out on moist towels layered between plastic to try to sprout them to just mess with the healthy ones. If they all spout honestly I'll be in trouble..or Dad and I will both be because he's still got our big garden. I'm good at going overboard.

Has anyone tried this/had any luck with it/have any idea the best way if they do sprout to go about getting them moved to soil without hurting them? I washed some off, some not, does that make a difference? Should I have soaked any of them first or anything?

Thanks 💚  
-Natalie
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pollinator
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I have done this with tree seed.  They often stick to the paper towel and I was concerned about damaging them pulling them of, so I use scissors and cut the paper towel and plant the little piece of paper towel with the seed.  I have had pretty good success doing this.

As long as you keep the paper towel damp, you should have good success.  I put mine in low plastic bins with the cover on, but cracked, to help keep them from drying out.
 
gardener
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I've had good luck just sowing the older seed doubly or triply.  Usually too much of it germinates and I have to thin, but that's a lot less work than messing with carefully planting sprouted seeds.  Or so at least it seems to me, but I have limited patience for fiddly delicate projects.
 
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I'm also really good at going overboard, so I totally get ya!

I also tend towards just sowing extra of the old seeds. Most folks throw em away anyhow, so I figure whatever comes up is already doing me better than most.
Some seeds last longer than others, I think lettuce and flowers are more finicky and tend to only keep a couple years, but it has been a while since I read about it.

Someone gifted me a bag of old cat grass seeds and I thought I would be ingenious and sprout them for the rabbits.. well, despite being 7 years old they sprouted, but my patio chicken got to them before I did. she's the same one who nicked my dozen apple seedlings. darn her.

good luck and let us know how they grow!
 
Natalie Lawrence
Posts: 29
Location: N Kentucky/S Ohio
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Thanks Trace, I will keep that in mind if any sprout, and I will make sure to keep them wet. I do have a plastic tub I can put them in I'll do that.

To Dan and Allison yeah I usually don't have patience for it either, that's usually my solution too but I'm living gypsy style right now until my house sells, and I'm only allowed to have potted plants at my temp spot which have been travelling around with me to make sure they are cared for.. and I have limited pots and limited space in my truck and camper..that's how I got into this mess this morning. Silly to carry a bunch of seed trays back and forth for two weeks waiting on germination that are full of a mess of old unviable seeds. But baby seedlings I will carry happily :)


 
Natalie Lawrence
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Oh and Im still gardening with Dad at his place so most will be going there but he likes things organized and needs to know what's what and what's going on, no wild gardening there, limited bed space mowed grass etc so I figured it would help him to know what's what so we can label things.
 
gardener
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I have done this many time, I like to start peas this way. I keep the seed on the refrigerator to to give them warmth.  I plant them as soon as I see something poke out of the seed.  The longer you wait the easier it is to brake or damage the little sprout.  Good luck.
 
Natalie Lawrence
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Thanks Jen, good to know another success. That makes sense, I will be getting them planted quickly!
 
Natalie Lawrence
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I'm glad I did this, seemed to be a good way to pick out the good seeds. Two packs of seeds only spouted maybe a tenth of the time so it was a good filter.

Some just sat and rotted, some had only a few sprout, some went totally nuts and grew huge in half their noted germination time!!

So..all the tips were good. One at the edge got dried out and didn't do so well, they need to be checked every day, much easier to take them off of the paper towels the smaller they are. I did wash some of the beans and squash, I am giving them a little more time before I decide if it helped. They do like the warmth maybe a little too much.
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Melon seeds
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Sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds
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Some beers and turnips went nuts... Uh oh
Some beers and turnips went nuts... Uh oh
 
Natalie Lawrence
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Location: N Kentucky/S Ohio
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Sorry, beets..  not beers. I tried to edit once I saw my typo but the dire warning made me change my mind. 😳
 
master steward
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Thanks for sharing your results.  Some of those seeds might still germinate if given the chance.  They just might need a little more time.
 
Natalie Lawrence
Posts: 29
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Thanks Anne, yeah I still have a ton I'm giving more time, some said at least two weeks time to geminate. I'll update how the rest do.
 
Natalie Lawrence
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Okay, so still very positive from my view! My Dad is set on me starting all seeds this way now..😳

I got some old seeds to grow strong and healthy that I have never had luck with. I had some luffa seeds I had babied when I first bought them because I was so excited for them but never had one come up. Now like five years later after giving up? I have probably ten seedlings, strong and healthy!

My worst luck was with the squash and beans, some grew nothing but mold but I did get a few healthy strong seedlings from each bunch. Only two groups, one of kidney beans and one of acorn squash were completely gone.

The cucumbers went nuts. Overwhelmed but excited for all the pickles.

No one brand seemed any different, they were all kept different amounts of time and in different spots so I can't report on that.

Transplanting seemed to go smoothly. I didn't cut the paper towel, I soaked it and pulled it apart which seemed to pull the roots apart and untangle them and for the most part the paper pulp just fell away. When it didn't I just planted it  too.  I haven't noticed any casualties at all. There was some roots breaking that grabbed onto the paper towel but the plants have continued to grow strong.

More to come.
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Natalie Lawrence
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All that sprouted still seem to be growing strong and healthy.
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