Garden Seeds – How Long Do They Last?

In the wasteful socieity that we live in, we have been conditioned to believe that we have to buy new seeds every year. Even on the package, a date in stamped into it to make us think that they expire or something. Granted, a packet of seeds doesn’t cost a lot of money but why do that when you can use leftover seeds in the next growing season? Stored properly, in a dark, cool place, using seeds is an alternative to buying new seeds every year.

Examine your seeds for damage. If divots and indentations are detected, the seed may not be viable. To determine the quality of your seeds, a germination test can be performed. Siimply moisten a paper towel, place seeds on it, roll it up and put it in a plastic baggie, then store it in a dark place. Under the kitchen sink is a good place. In 2-3 days, check it and then again daily for 2-3 weeks. Divide the number of seeds germinated by all the seeds tried to get the germination percentage. These seeds can be transplated outdoors if handled carefully and after the danger of frost has passed.

Another alternative is to plant the seeds in flats and transplant into the garden when seedlings have emerged. Either way, seeds leftover from the previous year(s) can and should be used.

Below is the approximate life expectancy of seeds from the most common vegetables grown.

Beans – 3 years
Beets – 4 years
Broccoli – 3 years
Cabbage – 4 years
Carrots – 3 years
Cauliflower – 4 years
Corn – 2 years
Cucumbers – 5 years
Lettuce – 6 years
Peas – 3 years
Peppers – 2 years
Pumpkin – 4 years
Radish – 5 years
Spinach – 3 years
Squash – 4 years
Tomatoes – 4 years

As you can see, seeds do last more than one growing season if properly stored. There is no need to buy new seeds every year even though stores and manufacturers would like nothing more than for consumers to think that only new seeds will grow. Armed with the right information, the food you grow from seed does produce the same quality and quantity as the new seeds.

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