If you have saved seeds at home and you are not sure if these seeds are still viable, you can do a quick germination test. You can have at least 5 seeds to do a germination test but you need at least 20 seeds to have a more accurate prediction of germination percentage. Some gardeners use 20 to 30 seeds in germination testing.
Doing a germination test is easy; all you need are damp paper towels and plastic bags.
Get one towel then moisten it, place the seeds in the towel – make sure to arrange them. If you are testing larger seeds like peas, beans, and corns, you will need one more towel. Moisten it and put in on top then roll them together in a shape of a tube.
If you are testing smaller seeds you can just simply fold the towel and roll it into a tube. If you’re done rolling it, put them in a plastic bag or Ziploc. Placing the seeds in a plastic bag will keep them from drying out. After that, place the bag in a warm area like on top of the fridge or in the kitchen. A good temperature for a germination test is 70 °F to 80 °F.
The seeds must not be too close to one another before you roll the towels. Sometimes there are seeds that don’t germinate and they can mold, nearby seeds can be infected by molds if they are too close or touching each other.
Check the towel once a day and see if the seeds are starting to germinate, do this after two days. If you see that the towels are dry or starting to dry-out, you will have to moisten them again with some drops of water. Your seeds will germinate in 5 days if they are stored at a room temperature.
The germination percentage of the seeds will give you an idea of how well the seeds will do in your garden. If you check the result of the germination test and only 50 percent of the seeds germinates well, you will have to plant them close to each other to make up for the low result of the germination test. You can also consider buying new seeds to replace the seeds.
Germination test with low rate can still be useful. You can sow the seeds in a container or pots and grow them under lights. For root crops you can plant the pre-germinated seeds directly in your garden.
If the seeds are properly stored in a cool and dry place they will last for at least 3 years.
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