The Q&A Archives: Germinating Seeds from Cold Storage

Question: I have several different types of vegetable and flower seeds that I inherited when my grandmother passed away. She kept them in her refrigerator or freezer and I have kept them that way since last summer. What is the best way to germinate them?

Answer: What a wonderful inheritance! Seeds that have been stored in a freezer ideally have a very low moisture content, and should be exposed to air for a few days before planting. This allows them to absorb moisture from the relatively humid air before being placed in a moist soil medium. After these few days of acclimation, if you want to test seed viability before planting, place a few seeds of each type between moistened paper towels, place the towels in a plastic bag with the end left open, and leave them in a warm spot (not in direct sunlight). You can then transfer the germinated seeds to soil, if you wish, or just use this method as a way to determine that seeds will still sprout.

Were these seeds she had saved from her own garden plants? If you've been bitten by the seed-saving bug, you'll be glad to know there is a lot of information on the Web and in books to help you in this new hobby. Enjoy!

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