Rachael Boyle - Phillips-Rooks District Extension Agent

Using Old Garden Seed


Rachael Boyle

Phillips-Rooks District Extension Agent

Agriculture and Natural Resources 


Do you have some leftover seed from last year? Seed stores best if kept in a cold, dark, dry location. Normally seed will remain viable for about 3 years under these conditions though there are exceptions. For example, members of the carrot family (carrots, parsnips and parsley) are short-lived and are usually good for only 1 to 2 years. If you are unsure of viability and have plenty of seed, there is an easy method of determining how good your seed is.

Place 10 seeds on a paper towel moistened with warm water and cover with a second moistened towel. Roll up the towels and place inside a plastic bag with enough holes for air exchange but not so many that the towels dry quickly. Place the bag in a warm place such as the top of a refrigerator. Remoisten towels with warm water as needed. After the first week, check for germination. Remove sprouted seed and check again after another week. Add these numbers together to determine the percent germination. For more information, please contact the local K-State Research & Extension Office.