Germination test, longevity and storage of seeds

Seed germination and longevity

Germination tests are carried out regularly on seed lots.

High germination potential is guaranteed in the year of seed purchase. Thereafter, depending on the variety of vegetable and the storage conditions of your seeds, the germination rate decreases more or less rapidly from one year to the next. Take, for example, parsnip seeds, which retain a good germination rate for only one year, or squash, which can retain their germination power for 5 to 10 years.

Therefore it is recommended to note the year of purchase on your seed packets, store in the best possible conditions and of consult a seed germination longevity chart depending on the variety of vegetables.

You can consult this list for information only:

Seed germination longevity*

Lettuce | 3 years

Sunflower | 7 years

bean | 4 years

Peas | 3 years

Tomato | 4-10 years old

Squashes | 6 years

Cucumber | 10 years

Spinach | 2-5 years

*May be affected downwards or upwards by storage conditions

If you doubt that your seeds are still viable, you can perform a germination test . It's easy, you just have to put some seeds inside a sheet of paper towel, a cloth or a handkerchief. Soak the seeds wrapped in paper with water and place them in a closed, non-watertight plastic bag. Place the bag in a warm place like the top of kitchen cabinets or the refrigerator. Wait longer or shorter depending on the number of days normally required for germination of the variety tested. Once this time has elapsed, take the seeds out of the paper to check whether they have germinated and whether the germination rate is satisfactory or not.

With these few tips, you will be able to better plan your seed purchases and avoid disappointment in the garden come spring.

Seed storage

To keep the seeds as long as possible, they must be placed away from what triggers germination: heat, humidity and light.

Seeds should be stored in a cool, dry and dark place. A temperature below 10°C is ideal.

The cooler the temperature, the longer the seeds stay alive. You can put them in the refrigerator but in this case, be sure to place them in an airtight container to protect them from humidity and always wait until the jar has taken the same temperature as the ambient air before opening the jar in order to avoid condensation on the seeds.

Julie Ross - Artisanal seed company since 2009