Monthly Archives: August 2012

Seed Germination Test (Saving Seeds from Year to Year)

I ran across this at Menards one day when looking for some peat pellets or something.  I think I actually resisted the urge to buy seeds this year.  I’m always so tempted by them.  I know that I can save them from year to year to year, and I do, but when the seed displays come out early in the spring, I just can’t help myself.  I start looking at all the interesting plants and think about all the things I want to try.  They never sell for the price listed on the package, there’s always some kind of discount off the package price, so it feels like a deal.  Plus each packet is so cheap to begin with that it’s easy to justify.  So for years I could be found walking up to the register with handfuls of seed packets, multiple times each year.  Then when it came time to put the seeds in the ground, I’d realize I just didn’t have room for that many plants.  I’d use some and save the rest for the next year, when I would buy even more seeds! This year I didn’t do that.  I had to run to the store to buy bean seeds because when I went to plant them, I didn’t have any! Well, actually I only THOUGHT I didn’t have any.  A couple days later when I was organizing my seeds, I ran across a brown lunch bag full of beans that I’d saved for seeds but never shelled.  So I shelled them and saved them for next year. 

Even though I already know about saving seeds from year to year, and how to do a germination test, I was pretty excited to see this displayed at Menards.  I’ve written about it in Resist zine, and had a little sidebar in How and Why describing it, but I don’t think most people know that seeds will last quite a while.  Gardening (like everything else) had turned into such a consumer sport.  They’re always trying to convince you of some new thing you need to buy for your garden and people lose track of the idea that gardening is a natural process that doesn’t necessarily need a lot of outside resources.  Perhaps getting folks to think about saving seeds from year to year will get them to thinking that these plants actually produce more seeds which can be saved and used the following year(s).

I do find it funny that this sign is really just a cross selling promotion for Scotts Rag in a Box® and Ziploc®, but at least the information is getting out there.  I will say that I don’t use 4 sheets of paper towel, one usually works just fine.  Also, I don’t worry about a cool or dark place.  In fact, I usually try to find a warm place.  Cool might better replicate the conditions in the soil, but warm seeds usually germinate faster and I’m usually in a hurry to find out if my seeds are still good.  Also, I don’t store my seeds in glass jars.  It’s too bulky.  I just keep them in a box in the cool basement.