How to tell if you should throw out old seeds

While those vegetable seeds that you bought two years ago might still look the same as the day you first opened the package, you may want to throw them away.

Here’s why: They might be dead.

Seeds don’t stay viable forever, so if they are too old, they won’t grow if you plant them. And that can take some of the fun out of gardening.

However, don’t go too crazy! I only said they might be dead.

Different seeds have different lifespans, so you should always go through left over seeds and see which ones are still good.

Here’s how

1. Check the seed package

Some seed companies will put a ‘sow by’ date somewhere on the seed packet, so check for that first. If the sow by date is past, those seeds are probably no longer viable.

2. Look up the viability window for each type of seed

First check the ‘packaged for’ date on the seed packet, then use this chart to determine if your seeds are still ‘good’ :

3. Germination Test Your Seeds

Take a piece of paper towel, place a few seeds in it, then fold it over. Dampen and stuff it into a sealed plastic bag.

Be sure to keep the bag with the seeds in it in somewhere that meets the germination requirement for those seeds. Then check back in a week or so to see if your seeds have germinated.

If only a few seeds have germinated, it’s probably not worth planting them.

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