Earlier in December, I set up my seed growing area and planted some seeds under the lights. I wanted to test the viability of some older seeds and I was hoping to grow some lettuce, spinach, and some herbs for a few fresh greens. They sprouted and are growing:
Onion seeds are usually viable for only one year. I hate to waste seeds, so I am testing my one-year-old onion seeds using moistened paper towels in zipper bag.
|Onion Seeds on Wet Paper Towel|
This paper towel method can be used to test germination of most seeds:
- Moisten a paper towel.
- Squeeze to remove excess water.
- Place 10 seeds on the wet towel.
- Fold towel in half over seeds.
- Press down to make sure seeds touch the moistened paper towel.
- Place the paper towel and seeds in a zipper bag and seal it.
- Place the zipper bag in a warm place.
- Check to see if the seeds have sprouted each day, re-moisten paper towel if it dries out.
- Count the seeds that sprouted and calculate the percentage that sprouted out of the total tested. Example: if 9 out of 10 seeds sprout, you have 90% germination rate.
If the germination is greater than 5 sprouted seeds (50% percent) I will use them knowing that I will have to sow a little heavier to make of for the reduced viability. I also want to observe seedlings as they grow. If they are not healthy looking, I will throw them out and buy a fresh package of seeds. I want my seedlings to have the best shot at success.
Seeds that do germinate can be planted. Just be sure to not tear the tender roots. If the root has grown into the paper towel, I just tear carefully around it and plant it paper towel and all.
The garden planning has begun. There are many seed catalogs arriving in the mail lately. Some from companies that I have never heard of and probably won’t order from, but it is fun to flip through the pages. I am also looking forward to reading about your 2011 garden plans.