Make seeds last longer
IT’S HARD TO PREDICT how long seeds will remain viable. Looking at ‘sow by’ or ‘packaged on’ dates should quickly tell you how long you’ve had the seed or how long they were hanging on the garden centre rack. Some seeds, such as tomatoes or cucumbers, germinate readily, even after six or more years, provided they’ve been stored well – albeit with a gradual reduction in success. Others, such as parsnip, have a very short shelf life and are best bought fresh each year. If in doubt, it’s worth giving old seed a go. Test a few on damp kitchen towel kept warm and you’ll often be pleasantly surprised by how many germinate. To store your seeds from year to year, keep them somewhere cool, dry and dark; a well-ventilated spot in the coolest room of the house works well. If you want to keep them for as long as possible, store in the fridge but take care to allow the seeds to come up to room temperature for a couple of days before sowing.