Texas Ready

How to Conduct a Germination Test

Like all living organisms, over time seeds will grow old and die. The specific life span of any given seed is dependent upon a number of factors. The variety of seed it happens to be (i.e., Roma Tomato, Blue Lake Pole Bean, etc.), the temperature and conditions in which it has been stored, the length of time since it was harvested, and the manner in which it was saved are all important considerations.

If you have seed that you know to be old (or that you are simply unsure of), a simple germination test can either confirm your fears or put your mind at rest. Here are 5 easy steps to find out.

  1. Saturate a paper towel with water - but not to the point that it is dripping - and place ten undamaged seeds on it. (If you are testing beets, chard or spinach, first soak the seeds overnight in room-temperature water.)
  2. Fold the towel over the seeds a couple of times and insert it into a labeled ziploc bag.
  3. Place the bag on top of your refrigerator (or other warm surface), and lay a cloth over it to block out the light.
  4. After 10-12 days, unfold the paper towels to see how many seeds have sprouted.

If your germination rate is . . .

50-60%, the seeds should be replaced.

60-70%, you need to plant this year and properly save the new seed you grow.

70-80%, you have some breathing room, but should start gardening as soon as possible.

80% or better, your seeds are strong, but we still encourage you to get your gardens started. Even viable seeds do you no good if you haven't learned the necessary skills to successfully grow your family's food.

You can do it, and we can help!

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