I use a large container to store my seeds in. It keeps them dry and I store them in a dark, cool place. Each year I usually purchase a few new packets of seeds (I just can’t resist), but I also have seeds left over from the year before.
Usually I start seeds indoors, but this is the first year in many years that I am not starting my tomatoes, eggplants or peppers indoors. Our house is on the market and my grow table adds too much clutter to the kitchen when in use. Instead I will purchase heirloom plants from a local source.
I am however, planning a garden and although we are still having nights with temperatures in the 20s it is time to plant my peas and spinach! How do I know when to plant my seeds? The back of the seed packet will give you this information. All seed packets indicate the optimum sowing time based on the average last spring frost date. You can also check the new Plant Hardiness Zone Map from the USDA, which will give you an idea, of what plants will thrive in your area.How do you find out the last spring frost date for your area? There are several sites online that can give you this information. Dave’s Garden has a page where you just enter your zip code and it will tell you. For Nancy On The Home Front (Windsor country) it is almost guaranteed that we will not get frost from June 3 through September 17th! Our frost-free growing season is around 129 days. I do not usually transplant any seedlings into the ground until Memorial Day weekend. Even waiting until then, we will often have a very cold night where I have to cover the seedlings in the garden!
Sorting through my seeds is a fun activity. If you are using seeds left over from a previous year it is a good idea to check the viability of the seeds. An easy way to do this is to take 10 seeds and place them on a dampened paper towel. Moisten the paper towel and lay it over the seeds. Place the covered seeds in a zip lock plastic bag and store in a warm, dark place such as a cupboard. Check it occasionally to make sure it is still moist. After a week check the seeds to see if any have sprouted. By using ten seeds you can convert the viability to a percentage. If all 10 seeds have sprouted you have 100% viability. If only 6 sprouted the percentage drops to 60%. If the viability is low you may just have to plant more seeds or get a new packet of seeds. Check my video on the seed viability test I did on some pepper and tomato seeds.
You may also wonder how long are your seeds good for? Generally corn, leeks, onions, parsnips and spinach are short-lived seeds lasting only 1-2 years. Check the date on your seed packets from last year and make sure they are still viable.
Squash, pumpkins, peas, eggplant, parsley, beans, carrots and celery should last up to five years.
The seeds that last the longest are broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, peppers and turnips.After sorting through my seeds and tossing the old corn seeds I am ready to plant! By choosing the right seeds you will have a better chance at a wonderful garden harvest.