Time to get your seed pack­ets sorted

Amateur Gardening - - Your Gardening Week -

AS a rule, it is al­ways best to use seeds be­fore they reach the best-be­fore or sow by date – usu­ally given as a month and year - printed on the back of pack­ets. Most will have been packed be­tween one to two years be­fore this date and will be at their most vi­able, pro­vid­ing high ger­mi­na­tion rates.

Once the seeds have gone past their best-be­fore date, they are likely to re­main vi­able for up to two years, pos­si­bly longer, but ger­mi­na­tion rates will nose­dive. So, there’s no need to throw the pack­ets away, as long as you don’t ex­pect the kind of re­sults you would get with newer seeds.

A big fac­tor in all of this is how seeds are stored. Those placed in an air­tight con­tainer, and stashed in a cool, dry and dark place, will pro­vide much bet­ter re­sults than seed pack­ets de­posited in a damp shed or inside a shoe box kept on a shelf in a light room. My cri­te­rion for evic­tion is that any pack­ets more than three years past their best be­fore date should go and there was no short­age of ca­su­al­ties when I had a sort out this week. Out went tomato ‘Strillo’ from 2012 and let­tuce ‘Mazur’, which should have been used by 2013, along with a host of pack­ets with no dates printed on them at all.

The worst of­fend­ers by far were sev­eral pack­ets of sprout­ing seeds, in­clud­ing cress, fenu­greek and gar­lic chives. Re­mark­ably, I bought these seeds way back in 2008 and they should have been used by 2010.

Ger­mi­na­tion rates fall once seeds are past their best-be­fore date

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