Do garden seeds go bad?

Most vegetable seeds will last until their expiration date if they are kept fresh, dry and out of sunlight. Baker Seed guarantees seeds for at least two years after purchase.

Do garden seeds go bad?

Most vegetable seeds will last until their expiration date if they are kept fresh, dry and out of sunlight. Baker Seed guarantees seeds for at least two years after purchase. Most seeds last three to five years after purchase, but those dates may vary by variety. Every time a seed experiences suboptimal conditions, it suffers a decline in quality.

It may not die right away, but it may take a little longer to germinate. Eventually, it can't germinate at all. Most vegetable seeds stay good for about two to three years, but some, such as onions, deteriorate in a year. Lettuce, on the other hand, can sprout successfully after five years.

The best way to store seeds is to make sure they are dry, then store them in an airtight container and keep the seeds at a constant and cool temperature. The answer is, yes, the seeds will eventually spoil and no longer germinate, but it can take quite some time. There is a good chance that those old seed packs have a high percentage of seeds that germinate well. Most, but not all, seeds will be preserved for at least three years, maintaining a decent germination percentage.

And even a group of very old seeds can have 10 or 20 percent that still sprout. Basically, you should allow about two months to pass from the time you start the seeds indoors to the day you plant them outdoors. That's one week for seeds to germinate, six weeks for strong, robust starts to grow, and one week for them to harden before planting. The common advice is to start two months before your area's last average frost date; that's the date, on average, when temperatures will stay above freezing.

Your local county extension service can provide you with the local date, and the dates are quite easy to find online. But “averages” don't mean much when cold air sweeps from Canada to say hello to your freshly planted tomatoes a week after “the book” says they shouldn't. And most of the plants we grow in our summer gardens are tomatoes, peppers, melons, beans, etc. they are tropical and do not enjoy nighttime temperatures that drop below 50.

So rushing the season can be a big mistake. I personally start preparing everything around the ides of March, and make sure that my seeds are all sown before April 1 to be planted in the ground around June 1 (as opposed to my “last average frost date” of May 15). I urge my fellow Northerners to also be climate cowards and start their seeds about 6 weeks before their last average frost date. If you live in a cool climate and want early tomatoes, start two weeks early and be prepared to protect young plants with warm caps and bells for the first few weeks outdoors.

Perhaps you will also use a cold-resistant variety for early harvest. I am about an acre and a half and have decided to plant pumpkins to sell as decorations around Halloween and Thanksgiving; also colored corn. When should I plant to harvest for Halloween and Thanksgiving? I've read about the '90 day' and '120 day' varieties, but June or August seems a little late, as we usually plant our garden crops sometime in April. Any advice you can give would be appreciated.

Ornamental corn is easy; it holds up very well after it reaches the dry stage of the stem, so you can start growing as soon as the soil is nice and warm. And you should start all at the same time, because the more plants you grow, the more corn pollen there will be in the air at the time of the tassel and the more ears of corn you will get. Those ears will also be fuller. Suppose you want to grow a 90-day pumpkin variety to sell for Halloween.

People start buying their carved pumpkins around October 1 and have practically finished purchasing them about a week before Halloween. So let's allow one week for the seeds to germinate, six weeks to reach transplant size, and about 13 weeks for those “90 days to maturity” — that is, a total of about 20 weeks from the day you start the seeds to the day your first harvestable pumpkins are ripe. Pumpkins are a form of winter squash and also store quite well; so let's plan to start harvesting the crop in mid-September. Oh, and if an early frost threatens, pick up all your full-size pumpkins and take them inside.

As with tomatoes, green fruits ripen very well at room temperature. Ask Mike A Question Mike's YBYG Archives Find YBYG Show You'll be notified once a new article is published. A package of vegetable seeds may appear dry, brittle and lifeless, but old seeds are very alive in many cases. Read on to learn how you can tell if old seeds are still good based on a germination test and see how some types of seeds last on average.

How long the seeds last in the freezer depends to a large extent on the seeds being completely dried before freezing. The seeds you can buy today for these two wonderful peppers are descendants of the seeds found in that old freezer. However, keep in mind that seeds collected from hybrid plants may not be realized from the seeds produced. Here's what you need to know about properly storing your seeds and what you can do to maximize the shelf life of your vegetable, herb and flower seeds.

Realistically, if less than 70 percent of your test seed germinated, you'd better start with fresh seeds. Don't take this date too seriously, seed manufacturers use this date to ensure customers experience a large percentage of germination, and many seeds can remain viable for many years beyond the date printed on the package. Depending on the type of seeds, the environmental conditions, and the manner in which the seeds have been stored, the germination rate of older seed packages can be greatly affected. Think of the dates printed on seed packages as those “expiration dates” on food; they are not set in stone, but rather are more of a guide as to how long the seeds are at their peak viability.

Saving and starting your own herb, vegetable, and flower seeds is a great way to garden for just a few pennies each year. If you store seeds from vegetables and fruits that you grow yourself, store them the same way you store seed packs in dry, cool conditions. . .

Laurie Dundlow
Laurie Dundlow

Incurable travel enthusiast. Subtly charming pop culture buff. General food aficionado. Incurable music trailblazer. Typical music trailblazer.