Joanie Lapic has been gardening in Pennsylvania for about 45 years, at first alongside her Daddy in his vegetable patches, and the past 20 years or so as an intent Herb grower and studier. Master Herbalist, owner of Everlasting Gardener in New Brighton,  Herb grower and teacher, lecturer, therapeutic horticulture teacher,  developer of Pocket Therapy aromatherapy products.
 

 

Seed Viability
by Joanie Lapic - posted 02/20/16

 This is the time of year when gardeners are getting serious about planting seeds, whether indoors or outside in the garden. Usually it’s also when new seed orders are placed.
   I especially cherish this time of year, because my “early” planted seeds have begun sprouting. Here in western Pennsylvania, I start Lavandula angustifolia(usually ‘Hidcote’, my favorite Lavender) and Leeks in January, as they need the extra months to grow to planting out/selling size.
   Going through my seed collection, I came across this seed viability list and think it might be helpful to other gardeners. It is a partial listing, so I’d be interested to hear from any of you with experience with other seeds, especially Herb seeds.
   First thing I do, when I purchase seed packets, is write prominently on the package that particular year, for future reference. And I always store all seeds in a refrigerator bin. This keeps them chilled and just moist enough, ensuring best future germination and strength. 
   I also group seed packets in plastic bags according to when they need to be planted: Fall/Jan., Feb., Mar. 1, Mar. 15. April 1 and 15, May 1 and 15. Those seeds which need planted directly in the garden are also grouped in the bag with seeds needing to be started indoors. I just note ‘outside’ on the packets. 
   Last summer my kids and I constructed a tall teepee trellis for my Kentucky Wonder green beans. This Spring, around St. Patrick's Day, I plan to plant Oregon Giant peas on that teepee. Planting peas and onions on or about St. Patrick's Day is a tradition here in western Pennsylvania. There is nearly always a significant (2" or more) snowfall after that, we call 'the onion snow'. Once my pea plants have yielded all they will, I'll plant the bean seeds to re-adorn the teepee.
SEED VIABILITY
1 year: chive, leek, onion, parsnip, rosemary, shallot, sweet corn
2 years: okra, parsley, popcorn
3 years: anise, asparagus, bean, caraway, carrot, chervil, coriander, cow pea (black eye), dill, fennel, lima bean, pea, pepper, soybean, tomato
4 years: beet, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, collards, cress, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, New Zealand spinach, pumpkin, radish, rutabaga, spinach, squash, Swiss chard, turnip
5 years: celeriac, celery, citron, collard, cucumber, eggplant, endive, gherkin, lettuce, mushroom, muskmelon, salsify, watermelon
   I don’t usually discard ‘old’ seeds, unless that variety of plant has fallen out of favor. I just plant MORE of them, to be sure enough sprout for my harvesting needs.

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