Now that my new seed orders or rolling in, I’m feeling the need to go through my seed storage box.
How Long do Seeds Last?
Seeds lose vigor with age, some faster than others. According to the Sustainable Gardening Handbook here are some averages on how long seeds remain viable.
- 1 year: sweet corn, onion, parsnip, leek
- 2 years: okra, parsley
- 3 years: asparagus, bean, carrot
- 4 years: beet, mustard, pepper, pumpkin, tomato
- 5 years: broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, collard, cucumber, eggplant, kale, lettuce, spinach
Caveats: Fluctuation in temperature and moisture stimulate seeds and zap their vitality. If your seeds have been exposed to humidity and varying high and low temps, they likely won’t last as long as listed above. A good method to promote longevity of stored seeds is to use a sealed container with silica packs inside, and place it in a refrigerator where the temperature is 40 degrees or less.
Test Your Old Seeds
If you’re unsure of the condition of your seeds, try germinating some in a wet paper towel in a warm place. Keep the towel moist and peek inside every few days. If you are getting a lot of germination of vigorous little sprouts, then you should be good to go. If not, consider replacing them. Need seeds? Consider joining the free Grow This! Gardening Challenge.
Old Seeds Can Become Nutritious Microgreens!
If you have a difficult time throwing out old seeds, many can be germinated and harvested for microgreens. The brassica family (cabbage, broccoli), beans, beets, radish, and lettuces all make excellent microgreens. I don’t use anything from the Solanaceae (tomatoes, pepper, eggplant) family or Cucurbit family (cucumber, squash) because their vegetation isn’t edible. Fill a shallow container with potting soil, moisten thoroughly and add your old seeds. Place under a grow light or on a sunny window sill and as clip and enjoy!
Ready to Get Some Seeds Going?
Check out my Seed Starting Guide for more information on dates and soil temperatures to start garden veggies, herbs, and flowers.
- OSU Extension: Get Big Flavor From Tiny Microgreens
- OSU and Food Hero: Grow This! Gardening Challenge