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Seed Viability



Sowing the seed! It is a practice almost as old as human culture. For many gardeners, it is all things wonderful - a truly precious moment in springtime.

But all the good feelings can vanish in a heartbeat if the seed is old and fails to germinate. All gardeners know that seed left over from one year can be saved to the next. Many people use tiny bottles and keep them in a cool place - even the fridge. Seeds, however differ in their length of unplanted viability.

Generally the following guideline is accurate:

Onion seed - one year

Corn and peppers - two years

Beans, carrots, peas - three years

Beets, pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, watermelons - four years

Broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, lettuce, cantaloupes, radishes, spinach - five years


However, do not assume that you will have the same amount of germination in a 5 year old pack of spinach seed that you would reasonably expect in a new package. If you are considering using up old seed, it is smart to do a germination test.

People have many ways to do this, but here is the general principal: you will need a piece or two of wet paper towel, a plastic food storage bag and some seed. Wet the paper towel and place onto it 10 or 20 seeds. Fold the towel so the seeds are totally covered by wet towel. Place that in a food storage bag and label the name of the seed, the amount you are testing and the date you started. Seal the bag except for a small opening. Place it in a windowsill, on top of the fridge or some other warm place. Check daily for germination and count the sprouts (keep a record). When 3-4 days have passed with no new sprouts, do the math and figure what your germination rate is. (If 10 seeds of 20 germinated, you have 50% germination and will want to plant heavily.) If you have less than 50%, consider pitching the seed into the compost, wish it well and buy new seed.



News

Summer Food in Wintry February

 

16 Popular Foods You Didn’t Know You Could Freeze

1. Garlic – You can freeze whole garlic, garlic cloves or chopped fresh garlic. Frozen garlic does lose some of its texture, but the flavor remains intact.

2. Corn – You can freeze fresh-picked corn on the cob for up to one year. Pack it in freezer bags — husk and silk and all. For store-bought corn, husk and blanch it before freezing.

3. Avocados – The bad news is that frozen avocados lose their consistency. The good news is that they do not lose their taste, so you can use them for guacamole or dressing. Wash and halve them before peeling. Freeze as halves, or puree them with lime or lemon juice and then store for up to eight months.

4. Mushrooms — You can freeze raw button, creminis and portabellas mushrooms for later use. Chop and slice mushrooms and then spread them on a cookie sheet. Freeze. Then transfer the pieces to bags or containers.

5. Onion – You can save chopping time – and tears – by freezing onion for cooking later. Store peeled, chopped onion in plastic freezer bags. The best part is you can just toss them into your recipes without thawing them first.

6. Hummus – Scoop your fresh hummus into plastic containers. Then drizzle a thin layer of olive oil on the top to keep it from drying out. Thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before mixing and serving.


more such winter gardening from Off the Grid News