Viability – It’s All in a Seed

For the next several weeks our Friday post will focus on helping you have a more successful garden experience this year, starting with seeds.

Before purchasing your seeds it’s a good idea to determine which plants you want to grow and how many you are going to need. For tips on this, see our previous post “Grow a Year’s Worth of Produce”.

Seed Packet/Envelopes

If you’re anything like me, you probably have a stack of seeds from last year or maybe even from several years. Growing plants from seed is the cheapest way to get your garden started and it will give you a greater variety of plants to chose from than the seedlings your might purchase from your local home and garden store.


You’ll notice every seed packet is different, but they all pretty much have the same information.

  • Name of the Plant (Common & often Latin).
  • Variety.
  • The number of seeds or weight of seeds.
  • Annual, Biennial or Perennial – annuals only live for one year and need to be replanted. Biennials take two years to complete their life cycle.  Perennials will come back year after year.
  • Days to Germination – this is how long it should take for your seed sprout to emerge.
  • Days to Maturity – this is the time it takes your plant to reach bearing age.  This information, along with days to harvest is particularly important for those of us with relatively short growing seasons.
  • Days to Harvest – this date is usually based on when the seed is direct sown or when the seedling is transplanted into the garden.
  • Planting Instructions – how to plant the seed, depth, and spacing, amount of sunlight, etc.
  • Whether it’s an Heirloom, Hybrid or an Open-Pollinated Seeds – All Heirloom seeds are Open-Pollinated (OP) but not all OP seeds are old enough (50+ years) to have a proven track record that would give them the Heirloom designation.  As long as pollen is not shared between different varieties within the same species, then the seed produced by Heirlooms and OP will remain true-to-type year after year.  Hybrid (sometimes called FI) – Are NOT GMO related. They are created through selective breeding that can enhance their disease resistance and increase production. While this sounds great, these seeds should not be collected and saved for used next year as the plant may have different characteristics than the one produced by the original seed.
  • Packaging Date or Expiration Date – though the package may indicate the seeds are only viable for that growing season, most are still good to use, as long as stored properly, for several more years.

Seed Viability

The viability of your seeds is very important, especially if you are using seeds from previous years or seeds you have saved from your garden or seeds others have given you.

Testing your seeds viability (germination rate) is easy – you will need the following items:

  • Seeds to be tested.
  • A spray bottle with tap water.
  • A paper towel.
  • Ziplock type baggie.
  1. Fold the paper towel in half and moisten well.
  2. Place 5 seeds on one-half of the paper towel and fold in half.
  3. Place in a marked zipper bag and
  4. place in a warm spot like on top of your refrigerator and wait until the package says the seeds should germinate.

If the seeds are good, most of them will germinate.  If they don’t, you might consider purchasing new seeds.

Don’t throw out the seed that germinated.  Carefully plant them in some soil and treat them as you would a new seedling.  We’ll talk more about that next week.

Now for the exciting news! We have created an amazing tool – the 2017 Printable “My Garden Planner“!!

This Journal 30+ page has been designed to be printed landscape (11″x8.5”) and fits nicely in a standard 3-ring binder. You’ll find very helpful logs, planners, charts and tips which will not only help you stay organized but, as a result of being organized, you’ll have a much better gardening experience–you will refer year after year to this amazing journal.


And it’s available, through the month of February for 25% off in our Etsy store!!

Use code: 2017FebWP.

Get yours today and get your 2017 gardening season off to a great start!

Do you have any tips for starting seeds or do you have questions we or one of our awesome readers can answer? Leave a comment below!

Ps. Next week we will talk about getting a jump start on your growing season by starting your seeds indoors. I hope you’ll visit us again then.

If you like this post, please feel free to share and please click the follow button on the side or return to Misty Meadows Homestead to follow our adventures… Oh!  Wait!  Before you go – don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel!  Thanks!

This post was shared on The Homesteader Hop

Content and Photos by Misty Meadows Homestead and S.Lago © All Rights Reserved 

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38 thoughts on “Viability – It’s All in a Seed

  1. A lot of useful information here, and excellent ideas and suggestions.. With the advent of pesticides and GMO’s home gardening is the best bet. Spring is coming, time to plant soon. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Ok, good suggestion. Yes, I have both, but rarely use twitter, but my blog posts go there. I don’t know how many people are actually seeing them.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Well I don’t think that will be hard with the content that you cover. I only have 240 I think, but a lot of them I am sure have dropped off. You can’t read all your followers blogs, when you start to get a lot.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great tips. I’ll try with tomato and pepper next time. For people who lack the time like me, I put all old flower seeds in a plastic bag, shake it up then cast the mixed seeds in an area reserved for wild flowers. Vegetable seeds that are not tomato and chili pepper, I also mix together and sow in a small area reserved for baby greens.

    Liked by 2 people

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