I am terrible at arranging my seeds. This always leads to me having a lot of seeds with no date on them and no idea how old they are.
Old seeds don’t always germinate, and we don’t want to wait weeks and weeks for seedlings to appear only to realise the seed was old and never going to work.
Testing your seeds before sowing is a great way to check if they are still viable without wasting weeks and weeks!
Even seeds within date might not germinate well because of how they were stored, so let me show you how to put them to the test.
Ideally, you want to test your seeds ahead of sowing time, as even the test itself takes time.
I recommend testing a few weeks before you plant to sow your seeds, or even earlier if you are organised.
What Is The Test?
The test itself is simple, we want to give the seeds the best possible conditions.
We want them to germinate as quickly as possible so we can see if they are still viable or not.
To do this, you want to wet a paper towel and put it in a clear plastic container with a lid.
Put the seeds on the paper towel and then close the lid. Place the plastic box in a warm, sunny spot.
This is even better if you have a heated seed mat and grow lights.
What To Expect
Different seeds germinate at different speeds, so there is no definitive rule for how quickly your seeds should start germinating.
However, we are giving these seeds perfect conditions in which to start. You hope to see some action within a week, and within two weeks, you will know whether they will germinate.
Some seeds will be much quicker than this and will have germinated in a couple of days.
You also want to observe the germination rate. If it is poor, this is a sure sign that the seeds are getting towards the end of their life and should be used this year.
How To Promote Better Germination
There are lots of tips and tricks out there to improve seed germination, I have tested a lot of them, and many don’t seem to make much difference.
Many suggest soaking the seeds in water for 24 hours before sowing, but I have never noticed this make any difference.
What I have always found to help is using a heated seed mat and also a lid or propagator.
I had great results with my DIY milk bottle propagator, which you can see above, but a professional one is even better.