Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Edited February 14, 2013
Edited February 18, 2013
Edited February 24, 2013
Proofing Seeds saves money and time.  I was late starting the gardening for this year and ordering seeds.  I went ahead and ordered new seeds of varieties I had in the larder. I didn't want to be without.  I now wish I had proofed my seeds.  For example, after proofing my seeds last week I discovered I had viable sugar snap peas in enough quantities to suit my gardening needs for this year.  I had just receive a seed order where I had spent $8.99 for my snap peas.  I did not have to spend that money.  Needless to say these will be set aside for next year's garden.
Another advantage to proofing seeds is you won't waste time planting seeds which won't grow.  On seeds with a low germination rate you know how many to sow to make sure you have good germination.  You won't be disappointed a week later with nothing coming up.
If you are wondering how to proof seeds it is very simple.  If you keep your house at 72 degrees the heat requirement is satisfied (if your house is very cool you will want to have them on top of a water heater or other nice warm area). 
You'll need:
a roll of select the size paper towels
Sharpie fine point not ultra fine,
plastic bags (not the kind with the zippers, just a plain fold over top sandwich bag).
a  plate with sloped edges
old detergent bottle with the nozzle cap (a cream pitcher works too)
The object is to have the seeds in a moist, dark, warm environment.
I usually proof 10 seeds in each packet  (unless there is a limited amount of seeds).  The reason for ten is you can get a percentage when they sprout, I.E. if you have 10 seeds in the packet and 8 of them sprout you have 80% viability.  If you only have 2 sprout you only have 20%, which is pretty poor. 

Take a plastic bag for each seed packet you are going to proof.  Use your sharpie to write on the outside of the bag the information on the seed packet.  I.E. the name of the variety of seed, and the year it was produced for.
This is the time I want to say, when your seed order arrives, make sure the date on the back of the packets say, produced or packed for the current year.  I have a friend who received seed this year from a respected company that had a sticker saying it was packed for 2012..and on the bottom of the package in the fine print was that it was packed for 2010.  I have purchased old seed before but knew it was old seed and the company took the responsibility to proof the seeds before it left their building so I knew my percentage of viability.  The only reason we even noticed was because I was showing her about proofing seeds and told her, on new seed she didn't have to do it. I also explained there were charts available on line which told how long seeds of different varieties were viable. So we were reading the backs of packets and voila, the new that was old seed, reared its head.
How to proof your seed:
On a plate place a select -a-size towel.
Dampen with water.  Not sopping wet but very wet not just damp.
The seeds will absorb some of the water.

Place your seeds on the towel.  Then fold it into a little packet.
Pick the packet up and put it in the labeled plastic bag.
(Give a squeeze  before you do to make sure you don't have water running out of the towel. 
If you do, squeeze out the excess.  You only want the packet nicely wet...not sopping.)

I store my packages in a plastic box in a warm place.  You can see the seeds already in my storage box.  Any take out container works.
The box is then stuck in a brown paper bag to exclude the light.

You also need a pen and paper for compiling list of the seeds you are proofing.

The seed company listed as Mine OP stands for seed I saved and it was open pollinated.
This is how I made my list from this year and my results:

COMPANY              YEAR         VARIETY                DATE      DATE     DATE   DATE DATE
                                                                                         2-03          2-07         2-09     2-14    2-16
RISPENS SEED          10       SPARTAN ARROW                       10/10      10/10
                                                    BUSH BEANS
SHUMWAY                 07       EXPERIMENTAL                           4/10        8/10        
                                                    BUSH PEA
PINETREE                   10       SNAP PEA                                       9/10      9/10         
                                                 SUPER SUGAR SNAP

NEW ENGLAND SD O8   MELANZANA ROMANESCO          0/20      0/20        2/20     5/20  
(this seed is from Italy and the fruit was fantastic.  Even with horrible germination I will plant it)
February 18:  This is a note not to give up on old seed.  Today there are 4 more seeds sprouting in this variety.  I give seeds at least a week past when they should have sprouted, unless the seeds have obiously rotted.  Eggplants which are fresh seed have a sprouting window of 7-21 days.   This seed was planted February 03.  Today is well with in the 21 days.
SHUMWAY  A            08      LIMA SPECKLED                                 0/10       0/10
"     "            " B             "         "            "        "                                         "             "
GURNEYS                   07       DWARF GRAY SUGAR                     10/10     10/10
SHUMWAY                 07       SUPER SUGAR SNAP                         6/10       7/10
SHUMWAY                 08       MAMMOTH MELTING SUGAR        2/10       2/10
SHUMWAY    UNKNOWN   TENDERGREEN BUSH                      2/10       2/10
PINETREE                   10        JADE GREEN BUSH BEAN               7/10      7/10
SCHEEPERS               07        QUADRATO D'ASTI ROSSA             0/05        0/5       0/5
                                                          SWEET PEPPER                               Februar 24 2/5
MINE OP   harvested 12(Fall)   SPARTAN ARROW                         10/10      10/10
                                                    PERFECT SEED
MINE OP     ""     ""         ""     SPARTAN ARROW                             9/10       9/10
                                                  IMPERFECT SEED

MINE OP    """             11        COMPOST GOLD TOMATO  WET    0/10       8/10    8/10
                                                                                                                     February 24   9/10
MINE OP    """             11          COMPOST GOLD TOMATO  DRY  0/10       0/10    2/10
The above two tomatoes were from a plant which grew in the compost pile.  We had never planted a small yellow cocktail tomato.  It was extremely sweet, did not crack when it rained, very prolific not an extremely large plant like indeterminate cocktail plants usually are.  The plant set fruit after the nights went below 50 degrees.    The leaves never succumbed to the diseases that were prevalent that year.  The tomato labeled wet was the one we fermented the seed.  The label dry, was fruit retrieved off the plant that had dried on the plant.
MINE OP   ""    ""    "" 12        ACONCQUA PEPPER                         0/10       7/10
                                                  HARVESTED FROM GREEN HOUSE
We planted some of these pepper plants in the green house because the ground hogs were destroying our garden.  Due to the extreme heat they did not bear till after august. We were unsure if the seed would be save-able.  (The original seed was purchased from Pinetree Seeds.)
The results of this test don't just show me the viability of the seed.  They show me how fast they sprout.  Which is nice to know, especially on tomato and pepper seeds.  I am so anxious for everything to sprout so it keeps the stress out of the gardening.

February 18,  BTW the container you store your little plastic parcels in will have a strange fementing/yeasty smell when you open it.  Nothing is wrong it's natural.

February 24:  I was getting ready to throw away the contents of the box and decided to look and see if there had been any changes in the packages.  Much to my delight is the Scheepers pepper seed had sprouted.  2/5 This is a good enough percentage to plant it.  the test shows me I will just have to be patient for it to sprout.  ( I haven't checked the seeds for 4 days) It seems they took between 15-20 days to sprout.
What have I done with my seed because of the results of this test?  I have thrown away the speckled limas, the mammoth melting sugar, and the tender green experimental.  I have also thrown away the "compost gold dry". 
I was surprised the  07 Gurney's dwarf gray sugar had a 100% germination.  I know planting them in the ground probably won't give the 100% but it was nice to know I will have a high response when they go in the ground (if the ground isn't too cold and wet!)  I think we will put some in the green house this week and see what happens.  WE have done it before:
This blog shows the last time we planted them.
Good luck, have fun with your garden.  Read and google everything you can.  Glean what you think will work for you from the knowledge you harvest.  Remember what works for someone else may not work for you.  If it doesn't, work with what you have and try something new. 
Gardens thrive on attention, a good food and water.
For more blogs by me, visit at:
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